I’ve written about 37signals, a web software company, before.Â This small business of 12 people has a big influence on the internet software industry.Â Their business blog reaches over 70,000 RSS subscribers and has made them a lot of money apart from the main products they sell.
Recently, the founder, Jason Fried, did an interview.Â In this interview, Jason talked about his advice not to use a PR firm. Instead, he advocates teaching.
Tim O’Brien: Now, you don’t have a PR firm…
Jason Fried: We don’t.
TO: …unlike a lot of start-ups, unlike a lot of companies.
TO: And that’s something that you’ve said, “Don’t hire a PR firm.”
TO: Could you tell me, you know, in hindsight, what were the pros and cons of this?
JF: Sure. Just to come clean about that, we did work with a PR firm once for three months. So I just wanna make sure that I’m not burying that. That was more of an experiment. It worked out pretty well, but it wasn’t really something we wanted to continue to do.
We’ve always chosen to teach to get the word out. So we think that, you know, you can spend a lot on PR firms. Good ones are $10,000.00, $20,000.00 a month, which just seems like a lot of cash to spend on something that isn’t really guaranteeing a whole lot. So we’ve just chosen to teach and to tell a story about who we are and what we believe in. And I think when you teach people, you get a lot of attention. And when you share things a lot of companies wouldn’t share, you get a lot of attention, and the media seems to have liked that a lot.
In every industry, there is an opportunity to teach through a business blog. I’m sure many of you started a small business because you were passionate about your industry. You know things about your industry that the average person in your target audience doesn’t know.
Share those things. Let your target audience know your passion and expertise. Tell them about your views on industry issues.
This teaching strategy will personalize your business and build your reputation as an expert. As you can probably guess, over the long term, this will lead to many repeat visitors, subscribers, and ultimately, more sales.