The magic word that every consumer loves to hear more than any other is, FREE! Sales promotions offering a free sample or product inducement are always exceedingly popular. Human nature being what it is, the opportunity to obtain something of perceived value for nothing is usually very desirable.

Creative entrepreneurs can craft and develop a very effective, and free, promotional tool for their business or invention. The ability to utilize public relations is a key component of any successful enterprise. The potential to create and deliver your own message, and widely disseminate this message, is very powerful.

Advertising is a wonderful sales promotional tool. It offers a product the opportunity to deliver a specific message detailing the features and benefits inherent in the item being advertised to a potentially vast audience. A business can buy advertising to custom deliver a story to an appropriate demographic. Based on a company’s advertising budget, an effective campaign can be crafted to deliver a maximum result and return on invested advertising dollar.

Nevertheless, contemporary media is a vast, cluttered world of segmentation, niche players and competing new technologies. It has become very difficult to measure advertising effectiveness owing to this maelstrom. The inter-net is now a huge advertising vehicle being utilized by many businesses that only a few years ago were exclusive users of television as the advertising medium of choice.

Additionally, advertising can be extremely expensive. A campaign designed to effectively reach the masses is prohibitively expensive for almost any entrepreneur or small business. Creative, production and media-buy are expensive if any level of quality is to be achieved when delivering a print ad, television spot, direct mail message or radio commercial.

Free publicity offers several benefits denied when using most advertising mediums. Every consumer recognizes advertising when they see it. We are bombarded every day with thousands of commercial messages, everywhere we turn the senses are being challenged. Publicity, however, does not assault our senses and cause a barrier response. Effective publicity informs, teaches and imparts useful detail that assumes editorial status and is readily read. Publicity is not framed in advertising structures where content is exclusively commercial. We change the channel when commercials come on, but we are interested in gaining knowledge, exactly the benefit proffered by public relations.

I am always amazed at how few businesses and entrepreneurs effectively utilize a public relations component in their sales promotion campaign. The ability to spread product/company specific messages to interested consumers of this information, at no expense, is a bonanza not to be missed. If you can write a letter you can write a press release. If you have access to the inter-net you have the delivery system required to implement a publicity campaign for your new product or small business. If your industry has trade journals, industry specific magazines, trade associations or affiliations you have a built in audience interested in staying current on industry happenings. Take full advantage!

It costs nothing to e-mail a press release to thousands of consumers. It costs virtually nothing to fax a press release to targeted, important decision- makers in your area of commerce. The opportunity to have a portion, or all, of your press release re-printed in a newspaper, magazine or trade journal, for free, is exponentially more important and beneficial than an ad placement in the same vehicle.

There are professional public relations firms everywhere. They perform a valuable service and can be as important to a business as an advertising agency relationship. However, there is no reason for an entrepreneur to have to pay to implement a publicity campaign for their business. It can be self-directed and achieve excellent results.

I utilize Public Relations for every client I serve. The results have proven, when measured against the time invested, stunningly positive. A cosmetic product highlighted in Mademoiselle, a tow-able float featured in Boat Magazine or a novel fire extinguisher described in Popular Mechanics are only a few of the dozens of examples of placements that have leveraged successful product launches.

When organizing a self-directed publicity campaign keep several things in mind. Your goal is to highlight a new feature, offering or extension of your business. You are not trying to sell an item in the press release. A blatant commercial appeal will not be read, re-printed or quoted. The content should be written as an informational announcement. A new product, featuring a new technology, available at sporting goods stores, will be launched by (your name/company here). Provide a contact name, phone number, e-mail address, and fax number so consumers of your press release can make contact and ask questions. This often leads to an interview or expanded quotes.

The effective press release is NEVER more than one page in length. Obviously, it is crucial that grammar, spelling and wording be correct and appropriate. Keep sentences short, one bullet point per sentence, and clear. Summarize you, or your company, in a short last paragraph. An example:

Duquesa Marketing is an international marketing and product development consulting firm specializing in consumer products. The firm typically works with inventors, entrepreneurs and small business to customize and execute sales, marketing, launch and funding strategies.

There are a number of inter-net sites that are highly efficient at broadly distributing free lance written press releases. is one, and there are many more. You will need to submit your press release for consideration and review. Editors will confirm that the press release has been accepted for network distribution. You might be asked to provide key words relative to your content. This will enable the distributor to target industry subsets more likely to be interested in learning about your product.

These services are offered at no charge. However, there are optional maximization programs. Utilizing this service requires making a small investment. I usually use this service. My experience is that a $40 investment gives me an outsize return in terms of response, pick-ups and placement.

Most entrepreneurs and startup businesses face daunting financial issues at every step of development. The library, a few mentors, and not much else will be available at no cost. Publicity for an opportunity is invaluable. Take advantage of every chance to publicize any and all aspects of your venture, especially when the notoriety gained is positive and free.

Author's Bio: 

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, Inc. ( has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.