If you are a small company, how do you get the word out about your product or service? How do you break out and become known?

Traditionally, companies hire a PR firm and spend a fortune on press releases and advertising. With this approach, you have to continue to spend money to tell people about your product or service.

But there is another way.

One of my favorite videos is by Jason Fried of 37 Signals, a web based software company. In this video Jason describes an approach that they have used to great success - he calls it "Marketing by Sharing."

I love this concept - sharing and teaching is a great way to get the word out about your product or business and build an audience. We trust the people we learn from.

In the video, he relates an example of some of the content they have shared. At one point, they developed a neat new user interface technique for one of their products called the "Yellow Fade Technique."

Instead of keeping it secret, they blogged about it. They wrote about the thought behind the feature, and provided examples. The post also mentioned their product. That blog post was eventually read over 800,000 times! 7,000 other blog posts referenced that article. You can't buy that kind of advertising.

Granted, this was not just a one-time hit. The company spent time building up their Signal to Noise blog by sharing lots of good content and perspectives. I think his point is this: building an audience in this way is much more satisfying and effective than advertising and PR.

Take Away:

If you don't have an audience, you have to constantly spend money to tell people about your product or service. But when you generate useful content, people come to you. You build an audience. They may not buy from you right away, but when they do need something, they will keep you in mind.

What do you think? Will you go an write a blog post sharing something of value and start building your audience, or go buy more clicks on Google AdWords?