What should you know about working with a PR and marketing communications firm?

What does a marketing communications / PR firm do?

A marketing and PR firm helps you define and refine your brand presentation to align with your company DNA and position in the marketplace. We work with you to ensure that your marketing aligns with and supports your business goals.

From there, we help you refine your key messages and presentation of them so that they help increase awareness, pull your ideal customers to you and support every aspect of your brand.

We design marketing materials such as flyers, brochures, social media messaging materials, blog content, website content). We also recommend appropriate channels in which to communicate. These channels can be Owned (your website, your social media channels and blog); Earned (media mentions, earned media, shared and comments on posts on social and on your website); Paid (paid social media advertising, print advertising, digital advertising such as pay per click, etc.) 

When should I work with a marketing communications / PR firm?

You should work with a marketing communications and PR firm when your efforts to market your company, services and present yourself to the world are not achieving the goals you expect. 

If your business is growing and your time is limited or you know that your marketing is not hitting the mark, it’s time to consult a professional. 

If you feel you do not know what to do to market your company, you may wish to consider working with a marketing consultant. 

Many entrepreneurs can work on their own to promote their businesses. In fact, many entrepreneurs enjoy the challenges of marketing their services. However, even these very involved individuals may need some mentoring and support to be certain their marketing goals align with their wishes. In such cases, a professional may be the perfect individual to guide you, allowing you to do the actual implementation.

What are the best ways to increase awareness of my business?

There is no one best way to increase awareness of your business. Methods used to promote it are determined based on your customers and their needs. 

When working with a professional to figure out the best ways to market your business, you can expect to answer a lot of questions to help us understand your product, services and when and how people need and use them. Only after we have these insights can we properly provide guidance.

Amanda Milligan of Fractl, authored a blog post for MOZ on the topic of marketing tactics and wrote,

“It’s critical to analyze the attitudes and behaviors of your current and potential clients/customers in order to best communicate with them in the methods they prefer.”

Fractl’s survey, which is cited in her article, notes that for most business leaders, being found in search results is critical to success.

Graph from Fractl on the most effective way to attract business
Image Credit: Fractl graph from MOZ blog post.

She also noted that very few tactics die out. We’re always hearing about the end of some (formerly highly utilized) ad type which is at risk for imminent death. The truth is that there are fads and phases in advertising, marketing and PR. 

Today’s influencers are yesterday’s local celebs. Instagram TV is today’s version of local access TV. 

However, with this being true, there are some ways of getting out in front of your potential customers that are better received than others. One of these which showed up as better liked is blogging.

Sentiment around Marketing tactics
Image Credit: Fractl via Moz blog post

We also learned from the Fractl survey that most people who seek new products or services utilize the Internet to find or identify what they need.

Given these findings, making certain that your company ranks well and shows up is critical. In order to make this happen, a carefully crafted content plan and tactical strategy is required as is ongoing commitment to publicizing your existing content.

If you need assistance identifying your potential customers, or how to gain awareness or increase your potential customers, get a complimentary marketing analysis. We would be pleased to offer you an initial conversation at no cost.

Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

New businesses need a marketing plan

marketing graphic

Every few days one hears about the closing of a fairly recently opened business. Recently, I heard one of the owners of a just closed business attribute her restaurant’s demise to “poor marketing, we weren’t able to sustain staying open.” Other problems cited were delayed opening in December rather than in a more robust time of the year (as far as restaurant patronage goes, opening during the Thanksgiving – Christmas period is a terrible mistake) and a poor choice of name which gave mis-cues to the customer as to the restaurant’s concept.

Low budgets often blamed for lack of marketing

Every new business needs a marketing plan. Your marketing must start prior to your opening. But many small business owners feel that they are on short financial leashes and so jettison any marketing plan. But, I think many confuse marketing with advertising.

What marketing is

Marketing is a systematic approach to understanding and communicating relevant information about your products with your potential customer. It includes a messaging strategy often called a communications plan that encompasses public relations, social media, paid advertising, community relations and events. It may or may not include paid ad placement. Every new business plan must allocate resources to marketing your business. These resources are time and money.

Be where your customers are

As you begin to develop your marketing plan you must comprehend where and how your customers seek information about the category of goods you sell. If you are selling a product primarily for women between the ages of 25 and 35, understand what influences these women, where they get their information and plan a strategy to have information in those channels.

You can create your own marketing plan

In the case of some businesses, you may find you have less time than money and so you pay a professional to assist with the development of your marketing and communications strategies. If you are a very small business, you can often create and implement your marketing plan yourself, however, in no instance can you choose to believe “If I build it, they will come.” Nor should you put all your eggs in the viral (e.g. “I’m going to create a new video and it’s going to go viral.”) myth basket. It’s great if an aspect of your business catches the attention of customers, but what will sustain actual paying customers?

Provided your services or products meet a need or create a new need and are well made, available to the market with a good distribution system, properly priced, provided with superior customer service and people know about you, and you consistently share interesting information, you will meet with success.

Public relations tactics that work

This evergreen post was first published on our blog in 2009. We’ve updated it and republished it.

Everybody loves to win!

When we were children, we may have avidly collected cereal box tops or points in order to enter a contest. We also may have colored a picture to send to the local weather broadcast hoping to be selected the “Weather Picture of the Week.” These days with ubiquitous cell phone cameras, many of us submit photos to our local news outlets for their weekly or daily Picture of the Day/Week. We buy lottery tickets and enter contests believing that our luck is great and we will win. We enjoy competing and being singled out as special. 

Each one of us believes that we have a specialness about some aspect of our lives. An entire generation of children have been raised believing that they are special. Psychologists call this Pseudo-exceptionalism. Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D., MPP writes in his post on Psychology Today, “Pseudo-exceptionalism — the unearned conviction that we are exceptional, superior to others because we were born…us.” 

When it comes to public relations for your company, you can use these traits of human nature to your advantage.

People love contests. We are competitive by nature and want to demonstrate our prowess. Look at the success of America’s Got Talent, American Idol and other competitive reality television shows. We get a vicarious thrill rooting for those we favor. Businesses love contests because through contests they are able to increase brand awareness, build their email marketing lists, gain new social media followers, and move the needle of those visiting the brand’s website. Contests can be synchronized to fit holiday schedules and seasonal business goals. They can help you boost sales. 

Contests are one of the oldest ways to bring attention to a company. They work well when piggybacked on current news or cultural trends making the news.  As an example, mother’s day and father’s day contests and sweepstakes giveaways are very popular.

We also like to share our opinions with others.  Whether use use social media comments, consumer surveys or Google Reviews, we crowd source referrals for auto repair, haircuts, new doctors and lawn care.

As noted on Marketing Charts, and from Kantar Media’s report Dimension 2019 “Just one-third (33%) of consumers who rely on advertising for brand information say they trust its messaging, making it the least credible source of information among the options given.”  Most of us rely on friends and family for recommendations. However, we also rely on review sites. “Some 44% of the respondents across 5 markets use reviews for brand information, with 7 in 10 of these trusting the information they find.”

What Brand Information Sources Do People Trust the Most?

Businesses regularly use Google Reviews to spotlight their superiority and Google uses them to help show us companies which are more successful their others. Here’s an example of how one company calls for their social media followers to rate their company on Google.

Survey says!

Conducting surveys to allow your company to announce the results and spotlight your firm’s knowledge of what customers think is a sound tactic. You make the news — especially if your survey is timed to fit the news cycle. BrandSpark is a company that issues brand trust awards which regularly surveys consumers to learn which brands are most trusted. In doing so, they make the news. 

As another example, YouGov and ACI Worldwide surveyed consumers to learn they are “concerned about the security of their financial data when they pay at gas pumps and convenience stores.” ACI Worldwide states that they “deliver electronic banking and payment solutions for more than 5000 financial institutions, merchants, billers and processors around the world.” By conducting this survey ACI signals to merchants their awareness of consumer issues, thus increasing the opportunity for trust from those needing payment and electronic banking services.

Surveys do not need to be national. They can be local. So can contests. Have you used contests, giveaways, surveys or research to help position and market your firm? Tell us about how you used them.

Remember, The most successful marketing tactics and strategies build on human nature and on current trends and seasonality.