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.

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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 and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.