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Ballstars Franchisee Uses Free Publicity To Promote Business!

After 20 years working as an executive for non-profit organizations, Mark Reed had plenty of experience with fund-raising. So much in fact that about a year ago, he started his own business as a fund-raising consultant. The challenge, he found, was helping smaller groups raise enough initial capital to get the ball rolling. Then he discovered Ballstars.

"The Ballstars system is a great fit for some of my smaller clients, because they have an immediate need to raise quick money," says Reed. "Many smaller nonprofits don't have a lot of funds. This is a great avenue to raise dollars that gives them a solid base to get started."

Reed decided to form his Ballstars company as a separate entity from his consulting business and On- The-Balls®, Urbandale, Iowa, was created. Since Reed purchased his system, he has actively targeted sports associations, booster clubs, high school athletics, and other groups. "We use a pricing strategy that allows us to make a fair profit while bringing in needed revenue to our clients' organizations," he says.

To promote his new business, Reed is aggressively soliciting for free publicity, a proven strategy that has worked for him as a nonprofit executive. With his business being less than six months old, he already has been featured in two publications. The first article ran in the Des Moines Register, a statewide daily paper read by 4 out of 5 Iowans, and the second article was featured in the Des Moines Business Record, a weekly business newspaper.

"I've worked hard to get stories in the newspaper," says Reed. "That's marketing you can't put a price on."

His first story came about after Reed contacted the business editor of the Des Moines Register to pitch his company's story. He has two suggestions to increase the chances of having a story run. "What I've learned is you have to have a really great facts sheet. It should include facts about your business and explain what you do. Then you should direct the reporter to your Web site. If you don't have your Web site up, you miss an opportunity," says Reed. "One of the first things the reporter did was go to my Web site to see what it was all about. Then she reviewed the fact sheet during the interview. She'd say, 'Tell me more about this part.'"

Some features that appealed to her was that you could order one personalized ball and that orders were turned quickly. Also, we knew nobody else had photo sports balls. So when I initially talked to the reporter I told her, "This is something you won't find anywhere else," notes Reed.

"I used the Des Moines Register article to convince the Des Moines Business Record to do a story. Another key is to be as helpful and cooperative as possible," Reed says. "You've got to be willing to do what they need you to do. Be open and tell them that you can provide as much information as they like. You also have to package the story in such a way that even if a reporter can't use it today he or she will put it in a file and when a future story idea is needed, there's a great one in there."

Reed also suggested that the paper send out a photographer to shoot his fully decorated On-The- Balls® van. "When the photographer arrived and I showed him the van, he said, 'The van is great but we'll get a glare in the picture. Let's put you in your office tossing a ball.' That photo landed me on the first page of the article."

Reed plans to continue to work the press. His next goal is to be featured on a radio sports program. His advice to other Ballstars' licensees is simple: "You've got to be persistent. Ask reporters if they need you to come to them. Offer to send photos and/or samples. If you plant the seeds, you can get some great stories."

Mark Reed, president, On-The-Balls, Urbandale, Iowa, intends to use his Ballstars system to put together fund-raising programs for his smaller clients. He has a fund-raising consulting business that he started after being a fund-raiser himself for 20 years.

One of Reed’s advertising tools is his On-The-Balls van. Where ever he goes, people see the van, which has created great exposure for Reed’s business.

Reed understands the value of having professional photos that he uses to promote his business via his Web site and to the local press. He likes to provide as much information to reporters as possible and make himself available for questions or anything else a reporter might request.