It is the digital age,\u00a0 and technology advances seem to happen daily. So I try to pay attention. Watching - and benefiting - from all these technology changes creates a desire to improve my own business. To update my systems. To simplify my processes. To enhance my marketing - to brand and expand.\u00a0 In Ries\u2019 Pieces, the blog on the business of branding, Laura Ries says, \u201cAll brands need to stay focused on the battles they can win. Not the ones they can\u2019t.\u201d As small business owners there are a lot of battles that we can\u2019t win because of budget and access. But if we can shift our mind-set, there are more ways to win than we realize. Make your mark in the right place. It\u2019s easy to watch TV and try to imitate what you see big companies do. But in reality most small business owners are not trying to take over the world or even the state\u2014just their little part of the city.\u00a0 If this is true for you, then work to make your mark in your area. You don\u2019t need to blanket half the state with your marketing pieces if the the people you want to reach (at least in the beginning) are all in a few neighboring cities. This way you can maximize your marketing dollars. Free is an option. Money is a necessity. Effective marketing brings in more money. Yet, you need money to market. Wait a minute\u2014it that really true? Yes. No. Sometimes. You don\u2019t have to have bundles of company cash to start marketing. But you certainly can\u2019t afford to skip the marketing part of your business. There are free options. It\u2019s the difference between advertising (paid marketing) and publicity (free marketing). Marketing guarantees attention. Paying for marketing guarantees that people will have the chance to see your ad and hear about your business, but it doesn\u2019t guarantee that they will care. With publicity, you give up the guarantee that your message will be seen -- but if it is, it will be a more engaging story.\u00a0 The reporter, the journalist, the voice has to find your story interesting and choose to share it. If they do, then you have the chance to get attention for your business without spending\u00a0 money. For publicity, you pay in other ways. What\u2019s happening with your company that your local paper or news could get excited about? Take the time to find the story and once you do, write a press release and send it to the local paper. You just may get some great publicity out of it. For publicity to work, you will need combinations of the following: Authentic relationships with the storytellers in your city. Get known for letting them know about great stories in your community, even those that aren't about you. Hip them to cool things happening with local charities, youth events and your business. And remember, you don\u2019t have to do this yourself; someone else on your team can. Just be friendly, sincere and helpful. Engaging press releases that make it interesting and as easy as possible to tell your story. The media needs the facts and something interesting to share. A press release costs you the time it takes to write it. Again, if you\u2019re not good with writing, then find a member of your team who is or take the time to learn\u2014this skill will pay off in many areas of your business. Stories worth telling. That means something that matters to the community, not just to you. Figure out what matters to your city. Then share your story with your community in mind. Want to know more about press releases? Janet Meiners Thaeler gives excellent advice in Five Killer Press Release Tips for Small Businesses.