Many business people are unsure of, or unclear what PR is; is it advertising, marketing, press releases or what?
PR – #PublicRelations – is just that – what YOUR relationship and the face of your business is to the public, your existing and potential customers.
- “getting caught at doing something good”
- releasing info on awards you have won
- charity or community work putting business in the public eye.
- establishing someone from your company as an “expert” that the media turns to when they need expert opinions or facts on the subject of a story they are doing (print, radio, TV, Social Media, etc).
Having someone handling what info gets put out is generally a good idea, especially for a small business. It is better to have someone other than the owner or manager of a business, a professional at PR, telling what your business and you are doing and how you are giving back to your community. Sometimes an owner (or manager) can put the info out with the incorrect emphasis, where it may be perceived as advertising, rather than a public interest story.
A PR person also knows what is trending, what people are talking about, topics and events that are time sensitive and current, and knows how to showcase and promote your business with the emphasis on the right points. A business owner or a manager (or your marketing person) should be also involved in #localcharities or #communityevents.
Writing and distributing Press Releases in the proper format, using the buzz words and trending topics, and distribution are so important to getting your info “picked up”; showing how a business (and owner & staff) are real people doing real-life things.
Advertising and publicity just about what products or services a business offers is not always enough of a “recommendation” – you need to show the “heart” of your business.
Public relations is the practice of deliberately managing the release and spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public. Public relations and publicity differ in that PR is controlled internally, whereas publicity is not controlled and contributed by external parties. Wikipedia
So as salespeople and almost everyone in business has heard at least once – something you presented, proposed, planned got the reaction “It Didn’t Work” from your client.
Well, 99% of the time #ItDidn’tWork BECAUSE they did not follow it exactly or fully. When, as a business owner, you try to save $$, sometimes it winds up costing more or being a waste of the $$ spent.
Marketing, Advertising, Promotional and PR plans are called plans because they are not a ONE STEP ANSWER to increasing business. When a business owner doesn’t follow or implement ALL of the steps in a plan, it is NOT the plan that didn’t work – it’s the partial or incorrect execution of it that doesn’t give the results expected.
So, as a salesperson or consultant make sure you stress the importance of following your plan or program fully. IF the owner is not willing to do it right, then it is better for you to advise them NOT to do it in a partial, or pick and choose method. Because when it doesn’t work, you will get the blame.
And as an owner, if you are not open fully to the ideas, or do not have confidence in the plan or person….then don’t do it. There is no point asking for advice and then not following it or not following it fully. On the flip side, do not follow blindly, make sure the salesperson or consultant has a proven track record, has references and has a really good working knowledge of YOUR particular business and industry, not just their own product or plan.
Not following all the steps is like planning and preparing to serve a great dinner, then using the wrong ingredients or spices, or not cooking it at all and expecting it to be great.
It Doesn’t Work!
Owning and operating a business is hard, and sometimes it’s hard to spend money on a marketing and advertising plan or program that has no guarantees. Let’s face it though, there are NO GUARANTEES.
But, again if you do it right you can expect results. And if you do not do anything, most likely nothing will happen or change. Many businesses throughout the years have said “It didn’t work” – generally, they are no longer in business.
It’s like raising prices and wondering why your business isn’t making more money. 10-15% of existing customers are lost when prices go up, especially in the restaurant industry. If you cannot afford to lose them, or cannot generate enough new customers to replace and surpass that number, think about what effect raising prices will have.
There are better ways to increase sales and profits. Watch for next blog with some ideas and stories about small changes than can bring big results!
We have probably all heard of Secret Shoppers and thought they were used mostly in big retail businesses. We have all heard of corporate spies! With face masks now common, everyone looks like a secret shopper.
They can be a valuable asset to a small business almost more than to the big corporations.
#SecretShoppers come in to your business, ask questions, try or buy your products or services, and report back to you, the business owner. Just sending someone in and saying let me know what you think is not the way to do it – there are a series of questions a Secret Shopper should answer, so you, the owner, get the right info and feedback. (I have a form with a great set of questions). The way you compensate and treat the Secret Shopper is also very important.
You want the info to actually help you if changes are needed – you want to see and experience what a customer does. If you don’t use the info gathered properly, it was a waste of time and money to even use a Secret Shopper approach.
Secret Shoppers accomplish a few things, one of which is creating a new customer (the Secret Shopper) and a spokesperson. If they enjoy their experience, after you give the OK, they will then tell other people firsthand about your business, and how they helped.
But – you do have to be prepared for potentially bad feedback. When an owner or manager is on-site, staff – and their interactions with customers – are usually pretty different than when no one is watching over them.
Many owners say the info they got back was not helpful — because it was not what they wanted to hear, or it different from what they saw when they were on-site. They then do not make any adjustments and, of course, say secret shoppers are waste of time.
What you do with the info is also extremely important – if you ignore what you do not like or want to hear, and do nothing, it will accomplish nothing. Getting info to help fix small problems before they become BIG problems is so important to a small business, which typically does not have the luxury of waiting for things like the virus shut-downs and decrease in customers to get better, and go back to normal. Face it, normal will NOT be the normal we used to have, it will be a #NewNormal – and businesses that adapt and get creative will survive it.
Secret Shoppers are just one of the creative and inexpensive ways to help increase your share of the limited budgets people now have to spend. Don’t wait until it’s too late to help your business. You invested too much time, effort and money not to keep it going.
More ways to help keep your business afloat coming. Check out BestMarketingNC.com for info on our services.
A lot of people use the term marketing as interchangeable with advertising. They are not the same thing.
Marketing is creating a NEED and want for your product or service, on an on-going basis, and increasing the sale of existing products. I am sure there are other definitions that people use, but something from the past has always given me a clear view of it.
Some great examples of marketing from the past: (these may be true or may be one of many “urban legends” in the ad agency world, but did put things in a unique perspective):
- Ad agencies were asked to present plan to market a personal care item that everyone already knew how to use – ONE tiny word made all the difference – “REPEAT” Shampoo directions were changed to say Lather, Rinse, Repeat. People now needed to buy it more often, thus creating more repeat sales and increasing revenues from an existing product. All the other brands shortly followed adding Repeat to their directions,
- Re Branding or Re-naming – the case of the Spider Crabs – although the taste was delicious, they were not selling very well when called Spider Crabs (along with a few species) and had to be sold at a low profit margin. A creative person came up with the idea to call them King Crabs (re-branded product) changing Spider to KING – and King Crabs became the high end product it is now. Sales increased quickly.
- Buzz and celebrity endorsements – getting stories out to the public about your product being used by Celebrities – or Influencers – as we now have! Products were shown on TV shows as being used by the stars, not just in ads. Companies gave stars samples of their products – when the public saw them, they wanted them too. We now have podcasts, blogs, influencers on social media to help with this. There are local influencers too. Businesses should take advantage of these.
- Impulse buy and Product placement – WHERE and HOW you display a product or position your service, can make all the difference. Seeing suntan lotion in bathing suit or outdoor sections, as well as the health and beauty area, create additional sales. This is why end-caps and cashier lines have products on display, and stores charge companies for visibility and product placement. You have time to look at them, and think I could use that! Just putting a product out there is not always enough. In the huge pool of competition, you need to get your business, service or product noticed, and have it stand out among competitors.Future blogs will talk about Advertising (letting potential customers know what you offer, what it cost, where it is, etc). Promoting and cross-promoting. Creating new revenue streams. Turning slow times into income producing times. Product placement, perception and more. Low or no-cost options. Sales techniques. Plus some funny business and sales stories too.
Check out BestMarketingNC.com
Tip for business owners: You are open and/or possibly struggling to stay open. It’s important, more now than ever, to make sure your info, links and public profile position your business, product or service in the right way, so customers can find you.
Don’t send potential customers to No-Where-Land!
Broken Links: Many businesses send out newsletters, tweet, or have social media presence, but links don’t always work or send people to the right location. Think about it like putting an address in your GPS, getting there and being told You Have Arrived...and it is an empty parking lot OR the GPS says Address Unknown. That’s what a non-working or incorrect link is like in your newsletters, social media posts, and website.
People are pre-planning where they go, not as many are driving or walking by storefronts and businesses as pre-Covid. There is not as much foot traffic as in the past. They are checking online to preview a business, it’s hours, if any specials, and, most importantly IF they are even open.
You can search for info online, but not always get an answer or get the answer you are looking for No one wants to drive somewhere only to find out it is closed, or their hours, products or services you need have been cut. They check online – websites, facebook pages, tweets, yelp, etc. If the info is not up to date or you get an error message, or links go to no-where-land, it is frustrating and many people give up and look for another place to take their business.
Many retail stores are closing brick and mortar locations and relying on online – this may be the new future of your business too…if you cannot be a strictly online business, you need to get people to your location, online and actually through your door.
Using the services of a person dedicated to that rather than an owner or staff who have their own jobs to do, or just trying to post now and then, can be a huge asset to a business. It is almost worse to have your latest up-to-date info be from a year or more in the past! That is like opening your business and keeping the lights off and door locked. It appears to potential customers that you may be closed. But it needs to be done creatively, and be current and consistent. Now is the time to re-position your business, and look for new ways to create customers and customer loyalty.
It doesn’t take a lot of budget to have someone handle your online presence. You invested a lot of money and time in your business, you should promote it – don’t rely on people just finding you by chance. Protect your invest and future. The shopping and dining habits of people change very easily, your loyal customers of the past can be loyal customers of a new business pretty quickly.
People are finding out every day that one or more of their favorite places have given up and closed for good.
Don’t let your business address be in NoWhereLand!
More tips coming on What’s the difference between advertising and marketing – What Actually does Marketing mean? and more; plus some funny business stories to lighten things.
Check out some of the services we offer at Best Marketing.
Here are some tips when cold-calling:
Learn the peak and off hours so you do not interrupt their business or customers. Do not expect the customer to wait til you are done; you should wait til they have been taken care of.
When the first person you see may be sweeping the floor, cleaning a table, stocking shelves or answering phones – most people would ask politely, “can I speak to the owner (or manager).” You should NOT assume they are not the owner or manager. A better way is to ask are you the owner, or manager, or even person in charge. It accomplishes a few things. IF they aren’t, they now feel respected and can become an ally, getting you in front of the decision maker; if they are, then you still showed respect for their business and staff. Many owners have to do every job at some point during their day to day operations and get their hands dirty, or wear same uniform as their staff.
Never underestimate who you are talking to…they may not be the owner or manager, but could be a relative. If they ask what it’s about, or what you want, don’t talk down saying you only want to talk to owner.
Same thing applies when you do talk to decision maker – don’t knock their business and say you can make it better; you can offer some suggestions to help – but putting someone on the defensive by saying they are not handling their business correctly only puts up a wall. You want to become an asset, talk about helping them save time, as well as money, by using your or your company’s products or services.
Remember TIME is very valuable in small businesses, and especially now with Covid-19, Coronavirus affecting so many. There is a short time to make a comeback to remain open.
There is so much to do that a lot of the marketing, advertising, promotion of the business gets put off; especially keeping the public up to date on social media, and keeping website current. If you can show how you can help them save time as well as money, it can be a deciding point for a harried owner.
You should also offer conversationally a reference or business similar to theirs that you have worked with in past, or are working with currently, to show you understand their potential needs, so you can provide a solution.
Never be Negative! A radio sales rep once asked a client of mine if he felt I knew what I was doing, did I have his business interests as priority, and was I really helping his business. The client said well I hope so, that’s why I hired her. Rep proceeded to say that since I advised against his station, I did not have the best interest of the business at the forefront, and that he could a much better job. The owner then said – how do you know that is not my wife, or sister or business partner that you are knocking! All that rep accomplished was to make 2 enemies, and of course, the owner never would work with him since. Not every service is the right fit for every business.
Never burn your bridges! You never know when you may need to talk to that person again, or patronize their business, or, if you change jobs, or they do, you may need to call on them again. Even if you do not earn their business right away, it is always better to be on good terms. They may even refer you to someone else.
Be knowledgable! Salespeople should learn something about the business and the industry that they are calling on, so you can talk the “language” and use proper terminology. To be able to help a business you really need to know about it. Too many salespeople are so busy talking about what they do or sell, that they ignore the trends in the particular business or industry, or what the business owner wants or needs.
Be positive! It is always better to be positive and creative, than to downgrade what is or has been done, even if it didn’t work. A no today does not necessarily mean no tomorrow or in the near future – circumstances change in businesses every day. Covid is a prime example – no one could have imagined being shut down for months.
For business owners, it’s like starting from opening day again.
Be pleasant! No one wants to talk to someone who is depressed, angry or makes you feel like your time is not valuable.
90% of sales closings are personality driven. An old saying is that as a salesperson you have to sell yourself, then the product or service!
Business is getting better, and although many are being forced to make the decision to close permanently, it is better to be part of the solution, than the problem.
Businesses have to do their part and find creative ways to keep serving their customers – BUT, we, as consumers, also need to do our part to help small, local businesses stay in business.
We are all talking about how awful it is that our favorite places are struggling or closing, but we can do more than just talk about it. When we shop, dine or take out, get hair cuts, get our nails done, hire small independent firms and consultants etc, think of the type of ownership of those businesses. LOCALLY owned helps all of us….there is a trickle down effect that is a good one. When you spend your hard earned dollars locally, the money stays here and helps other local families and businesses. What you spend keeps people working, helps to pay someone’s rent or mortgage, pay local taxes and give a boost to the local economy, with us all spending our dollars locally.
Everyone’s money is tight right now, and although there are amenities we can skip or cut back on, we all for example, have to eat. So why not at least spend part of your food budget for 1 or 2 meals a week in a local restaurant (take out or dine in) and help everyone from the business owner to the waitstaff, to their suppliers. It actually benefits a lot of people locally and can make the difference in whether your favorite place stays open or becomes yet another victim of this virus.
You could be that one more customer that helps keep a local business open. There will unfortunately be a lot of closings, changes and scaling down due to this virus, but if we do our part it really does benefit all of us. The more businesses that can survive and the more people back to work, our way of life may be able to be close to what was “before Covid-19”.
If we do nothing, nothing happens!
…for business (and personal) telephone conversations… in business, we all have those people we have to smile while talking to, even if it is a fake smile…so they cannot hear the tone of the aggravation.
One thing I learned years ago was to be aware of is that phones do not immediately disconnect when you think you have hung up, especially older land-line phones with hand to ear receiver… I remember talking to an especially irritating advertiser, who had called to complain about one of my sales reps who wouldn’t do what the advertiser wanted..one of those “I deserve better special deals than everyone else” people.
After I spent 10 minutes explaining that we could not do what he asked, and offering him some other pacifying options, we came to somewhat of an agreement…and… then I said “have a nice day…” hung up, or at least thought I did, and said “YOU JERK!” which he of course heard. Lesson learned, anything bad you have to say, say it in your head! Sort of funny, in an, OH NO DID I JUST DO THAT way.
I will be sharing some stories and more tips – some mistakes and missteps, things I learned, sometimes the hard way, through the years. Hope it helps some of you avoid making the same mistakes, and gives some insight and tips on how to do business with people day in and day out.