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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

The personal touch: How raising your profile can improve your PR

There’s plenty of advice about how to get PR and write press releases, but the fact remains that it can be incredibly hard for small businesses to get press coverage. Try promoting yourself, advises Dee Blick of The Marketing Gym, so you can use your profile to help you get exposure

I attended a seminar recently in which the speaker explained how to gain coverage in magazines and newspapers. He made it sound incredibly straightforward - an idiot's guide to PR, no more than the process of finding a newsworthy story and targeting the right media before hey presto, you're in print.

In my experience, it's not quite this easy. You can have a compelling and newsworthy story but so can hundreds of other people in your sector. You are in a beauty parade, often with little to choose between you.

So what could make your story jump out? What about raising your profile so that your media contact is not only inspired by your story, they are inspired by you as a person? They're interested in what you have to say because it comes from you.

This is an approach that has worked for me on many occasions, although I hasten to add that I still get my share of rejections. That said, in the past five years, I've appeared on the BBC as a marketing entrepreneur, I've been interviewed by the Financial Times and The Mail on Sunday and my input, by way of interviews, articles and expertise, continues to be sought by many trade and business magazines and reputable websites.

I'm not all that special and different from other marketing practitioners. I've just been adept at raising my profile in the following ways. I hope you find my approach useful.

Speak out

Despite having a fear of public speaking, I volunteered to speak at many exhibitions, business networking events and seminars as a marketing expert in my early months of trading - when nobody knew about me.

Why? Firstly, people admire anyone with the guts to stand up and speak - so you are invited to bigger and better events. Secondly, your name, your business details and your expertise is included in every event communication, which in itself constitutes positive PR.

What's more, with online communications, you start to build your name and profile on Google. When a journalist looks you up, hey presto your details appear, linked to the events that you have spoken at. You're on your way to raising your positive profile.

Share your advice for free

I've consistently responded to blogs and forums on websites that are visited by journalists on the lookout for an interesting person and an interesting story. If you can go down the route of sharing your advice freely and not attempting to sell, you'll make the best impression. And of course you're continuing to build your profile online.

The BBC found me via a blog, as did the editor of a Royal Mail business magazine.

Write an online bio

I wrote my own biography as soon as I began to raise my profile - a 200-word summary of my key professional achievements and qualifications and a summary of my public speaking activities plus a snapshot of how I contributed as an expert to blogs and forums. In my early months there was not an awful lot to say, but it was better than sending an article on its own to a journalist.

Read the author biographies on the back cover of business books if you want to know how to write your biography - and if you email me, I'll send you a copy of mine as a guide.

Your biography gives journalists an insight into you as a person and what makes you interesting and credible. It could make you stand out in that beauty parade.

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