One of the toughest things to do is start a successful small business, especially in a weak economy. The banks aren’t lending as much as they used to, costs of production have gone up drastically, and while labor costs are down, the labor pool is so large that finding the right people can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

What’s more, you are dealing with well-entrenched companies and brands that are already widely popular, and having to make your mark stand out from the herd. The bigger the brands in your field, the more money, effort, and time that will have to be put forward to wiggle your way into the market.

How To Promote a Start-Up Business

But all is not lost. It may be tough, even under better circumstances, but it is never impossible. With the right plan, the right tools, the right people, and a little bit of know-how, you can put together a public relations and marketing plan that can help you jump in with both feet, and stick the landing. Here are some PR tips from public relations expert Ronn Torossian, the CEO of 5WPR.

1. Plan Your Brand

You know what field you are working to be competitive in, and you generally know your established competition. People want something they recognize, but they don’t want something too similar. Figure out how you are going to set your brand apart. In burgers, there’s McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s, but there’s also In & Out, Whataburger, and 5 Guys. Notice that they focus on different selling points, different ad styles, different colors, and distinct logos. People who have a preference will drive out of their way for what they want. Just because you are small, doesn’t mean you can’t make your mark. Plan accordingly.

2. Use Resources Wisely

Chances are when starting a small business, you won’t have the capital to float yourself for a year or two while you slowly take off. Generally, a business plan will have enough money for six months of operation as you become established. Don’t waste more money and manpower trying to grow your show. Utilize free media, through social networking and events. A grand opening banner isn’t enough. Hold a charitable function when you open, and get local press there to cover the event. Partner with other small businesses that might have parallel clientele, like a gym and a health food store.

3. Retention

Whatever your business, you will need repeat customers, especially starting out. Find unique ways to retain your new clients. Put up pictures of them, offer to host their business or community group function, get them to follow you on social media, and above all, deliver world-class customer service. You can’t lose any of your new clients, because starting out, there are few people to replace them. Stay on the ball, and success should come your way.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.

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