Continuing proof of the power of HARO comes to us in a testimonial from Fresh Green Light—a New York State-based driving school that opened its doors in 2009. Steve Mochel and his wife both left a 20-year career at the same marketing agency to develop the concept for Fresh Green Light. Now Crain’s New York Business, CNN/Money and American Express’ Open Forum have all featured the small business in their news.
“Since we are a small business, we basically pitched local reporters about our business and had some local success,” says Steve. “But our goal is to grow into a national brand, so we needed to get on the radar of some national publications to start building buzz around our concept and brand.”
“HARO gave me access to reporters I would have NEVER had access to as a small business. There has definitely been an influx of customers and the placements have given us credibility that would have taken years to establish. But more importantly, it’s shined a spotlight on our little company across the U.S. and the world. After the Money article, we received almost 30 franchisee inquiries from 18 states, South Africa and New Zealand.”
“HARO is a perfect example of how the Internet and social media is changing the business landscape and making local business just as valuable, perhaps even MORE valuable than a national footprint.”
Fresh Green Light is currently continuing its small business success with the opening of a second location in Greenwich, CT.
Let’s take a closer look: what did Fresh Green Light do to garner so much attention from the media?
1) A new twist on an old concept. Everyone has to go to driving school. But did your driving school have driving simulators (that actually simulate what it is like to drive distracted or intoxicated), in-car video cameras (to analyze mistakes made during driving back in the classroom), a variety of vehicles such as hybrid SUVs and sedans (to protect the environment), and ADD/ADHD training (for those who need a little extra help)? These new features opened up the market for this driving school to a whole different set of demographics. New technology that goes beyond what the state requires shows parents that the school is serious about safe driving.
2) Supporting the community. “As a driving school that caters to new teen drivers,” says Mochel, “ our core customer is moms aged 40-plus. We created a program where we donate one percent of our student registration fees to the PTA organization of the high school the students attend. The response has been great — the PTAs love the donation, we we are connecting in an organic way with our core target and they are talking about us to all their friends!” Now that’s a great way to start natural word of mouth marketing.
3) Being an educational resource. What was driving school like when you got your license years ago? “Drivers Ed hasn’t changed in 50 years,” says Mochel. Offering new stats on teen accidents and how we can prevent them gives peace of mind to parents who are letting their loved ones take the wheel. Mochel and his wife constantly update their Twitter page with new driver resources as well as info for other small businesses looking for success.
4) Never underestimate the value of being friendly and personable. For Mochel and his wife, it’s not just about business. It’s about establishing great relationships with parents and their children in the local community as well as online.
What tips do you have for using HARO to get small biz coverage? Has your small biz gained online visibility through the use of HARO? Tell us about it in the comments section below!