It might seem like the right thing to do, but blowing one’s own trumpet can often lead to disenfranchised customers and uninterested prospects. After all, it’s not about you is it?
But therein lies the rub — we are taught in business that headline-grabbing figures of growth, size, and market domination are all good things. But too easily in this environment, companies can get caught up in the “me” and forget about the “you”.
Do your customers really want to be repeatedly told of your success — to be bludgeoned by unrelenting news of your size in the market and how many users or systems you have sold? Will they flock to your banner if you give them your latest profitability and revenue figures and tell them how really well you are doing enjoying the benefits of their custom?
Or do they really want to hear about how you are going to help them get to the next level; help them to grow and flourish in their particular market? And all the time you are monologuing, you could be missing out on having a dialogue over, say, social media.
This is where talking to your market about their market can set you apart from your competition and from those people who are determined to win the contest about who has the most users or systems sold, or for that matter, bells and whistles on their product or service.
Your customers want to hear that you understand their market — that you understand their problems. They will sit up and listen if you can identify with the issues and drivers in their space, but they’ll be positively ecstatic if you can demonstrate that you are proactively pursuing a programme of activity in your product or service that actively addresses the needs that you have shown you understand.
Talking to your market about their market — or thought leadership — is where you separate yourself from the gaggle of other suppliers in your space. Being prepared to stand up and be counted in recognising your customers’ issues and their market drivers and highlighting that you can do something to help, will elevate you to market leader status not based on size, but based on reputation.
Yes, there is a place for talking about your successes — of proof points with customer stories and case studies — but this should be the undertone, not the main thrust of your messaging machine.
A well-prepared and executed campaign of thought leadership will attract the attention of the commentators in your industry; the journalists and analysts whose job it is to talk to the market about the market. Give these valuable contacts the material they need, making it easy for them by giving it to them in a timely and consumable manner, and you’ll steal the lion’s share of their coverage, getting even more people pointing at you as the perceived market leader. Not because you are biggest — but because you demonstrate you truly understand the market.
Actually, it’s you, not me…
Ashley Carr is the managing director at Neo PR.
Attracting quality press attention for your start up business can be an uphill struggle. Here are our top tips for gaining media coverage.
Make it personal
Each and every approach must be personalised. Let’s face it — nobody likes to be nameless. Avoid sending bulk emails with hundreds of recipients under the BCC tag. Most servers are auto-configured to junk incoming emails when the BCC is active with multiple emails.
Spend the extra time researching every recipient. Yes, it’s time consuming, but it will deliver results. Your conversion in terms of responses will definitely increase.
Target specific media
If you’re not clear about your target audience, then how can you execute an effective public relations campaign?
First of all, focus on the niche publications — these are your heavy hitters. Think of them as little gold mines, waiting to be found and crying out for your news. Who views them? A high majority are people solely interested in that specific topic. They are also used as research hubs for journalists from national newspapers.
By contrast, the national media titles tend to cover a broad range of topics and finding the most relevant point of contact is often laborious. Use the website search function to find relevant articles similar to your news and check the author profile.
Another great media opportunity is niche blogs. Land of the free speech, make sure they are floating high on your research list.
Make a list of all the journalists you want to target and consider making a smaller list of the key journalists that you would like to build relationships with. Keep them in the loop, invite them to your events, schmooze them! Focus your main efforts on this select group of journalists every time you have a story to convey.
The way that journalists get their hands on news has changed dramatically over the past decade. Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms are real-time news hubs. Stories can go viral before they are even picked up by media sources.
The days of Ivy Lee, who created the first modern press release, have all but gone. Fax machines and snail mail are still a viable delivery method but they just aren’t used that often.
So why not use this to your advantage and go old school? Fax your press release and avoid the cluttered mailbox of a journalist. Traditional mail is another good option — you can use fancy paper, a nice envelope or even send a gift.
When you're pitching to the media, make sure you have all the assets a journalist might need, ready to send off at a moments notice. But don’t send these first time — send them to those that request them.
• A photo to go with your story;
• A screenshot of your product/website in multiple formats and sizes;
• Your company logo in multiple formats and sizes;
• What makes you different that your competitors;
• Additional quotes from relevant persons;
• A document with facts/figures about your business.
Matthew Lobas is account manager at Pressat.
Securing media coverage is often at the very heart of a PR campaign. There is no doubt that it is a great way to drive awareness among new customers.
But the effort shouldn’t end with the successful publication of coverage.
Having secured it, the smart business will share it, particularly among existing customers.
Why sharing media coverage makes good business sense
Firstly, it reinforces the business’s credibility. Unlike an advert, a piece of editorial coverage has the endorsement of an independent journalist. It is trusted. Sharing it with customers can strengthen their perceptions of the business.
Secondly, it demonstrates that the business is newsworthy and professional. It inspires confidence.
It is also a great way of staying in touch with people. Updating customers with new snippets helps keep the business front of mind.
And it’s not just in sales that media coverage can play an important role.
Virtually any VIP that a business wants to impress, is likely to be influenced by positive media coverage. It could be an industry association, or a partner organisation, or new staff that the business is trying to recruit. The list goes on.
How media coverage can be shared
For sales guys, media coverage can be worth its weight in gold. Showing it to existing or warm customers is powerful stuff. It makes their pitch much, much more believable.
Likewise, putting it on the website is a must. Not only will it impress visitors, it will help keep the website’s content fresh, which search engines like.
Other areas to consider displaying it are: sales brochures, exhibition stands and office/reception areas.
Giving a little thought as to how media coverage can be fully utilised, can reap big rewards. After all, if a business has worked hard to secure media coverage, it would be foolish not to make the most of it.
Peter O’Shea is the founder of POS Communications; for a free PR consultation, visit www.poscommunications.co.uk .
More guidance on PR:
Would you like to be part of a documentary series focusing on Britain’s small and medium-sized firms?
The makers of fly-on-the-wall series such as One Born Every Minute and The Hotel tell us that they are looking for independent businesses to feature in a new series.
Dragonfly Film and Television is a BAFTA award-winning documentary company searching for “Britain’s most colourful and unconventional workplaces”. Could this be you?
Sarah Faulds, researcher at Dragonfly, says they are looking to produce a “feel-good documentary series that profiles remarkable businesses to find out what working life is like in a 21st century British workplace.” The working title for the series is The Business.
Sarah continues: “We are looking for colourful bosses who make their own rules and don't care what other people think. If you are passionate about your business, and feel tremendously loyal towards the (sometimes long-suffering) staff you employ – we would love to hear from you. If your workforce is like an extension of your family — full of laughter, honesty, and graft — please do get in touch.”
So, if you think you are “the business” or know anyone that might be suitable please get in touch with Anshu Ahuja on 0207 033 2267 or email email@example.com with the name of your company and a brief description.
A business birthday is a perfect excuse for a celebration —and a valuable marketing opportunity too.
Business anniversaries can be important milestones for your small business. They are a good way to mark progress in your growth, reinforce your trading credibility and track record, and they also help to build your business and personal brand. So it’s well worth recognising and celebrating them.
My own business, Orchard Marketing Associates, was five years old in January 2012 and I marked the occasion by celebrating and promoting it. I am very proud to have been trading for this amount of time, especially as much of it has been during a very tough period of recession. Unfortunately, not all small businesses have been so fortunate. Starting your own business is never easy and we should all acknowledge and celebrate these achievements for our businesses.
The key thing is always to re-visit your marketing objectives. Don't just throw away money on random ideas that don't support your broader marketing goals — for example, common mistakes would be giving away something of high value like a holiday and yet not supporting your marketing objectives such as increasing your website traffic, boosting your search engine rankings, building your mailing list, getting quality Twitter followers, downloads of your e-book, generating online sales, boosting footfall to your retail premises or getting more readers for your blog.
Remember to maximise your birthday PR power by issuing a press release online and distributing this information across all of your available channels — your blog, website, email marketing campaigns or e-newsletters, free online press release distribution sites, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, et al!
1. Run a competition
You could give away a number of items that reinforce your birthday message, such as ten bottles of champagne for the best ten comments on a blog post, or five winners drawn at random from email sign ups or e-book downloads.
2. Discount code or voucher
Why not create a special discount voucher, promotional postcard or code to be redeemed in your online shop or in person when visiting your shop to boost customer footfall. If you offer a service, you can still offer a discount without undermining your brand.
3. Throw a party
A bit of birthday cake and some champagne goes a long way to create publicity and a buzz about your business. Invite your existing and potential customers, influential contacts and suppliers in your network to help celebrate your business milestone.
4. Recognise the efforts of your employees
If you employ staff, recognise their role in making your business and organise a staff party or meal, team reward or incentive, or even a gift for every staff member, to help boost their feelings of company pride, loyalty and motivation. After all, keeping and motivating great staff is important, particularly in the current climate.
5. Customer gifts
Send your valuable customers a personalised gift that carries your birthday message. Again, try and make it fit the theme and offer them a discount if they continue to use your service or reward them for increased spend with your company.
We’ll be taking a short break from blogging over Christmas and will be back in the New Year, bringing you more news, views and advice to help your business grow in 2012.
And the Donuts continue to grow — we launched Tax Donut in August and our combined Donut Twitter following has reached almost 35,000 followers.
We couldn’t have done it without all of you — it’s your insights, comments, blogs and tweets that make the Donuts such a fantastic resource for small businesses in the UK.
We’d especially like to thank all our experts that have generously shared their knowledge with us. We’d also like to say a big thank you to the small firms that have told us about their experiences.
We are especially fortunate to have a growing band of bloggers who continue to inform and delight us in equal measure. We know you love our blogs too, judging by the number of tweets they attract.
But what do you want to see on Marketing Donut in 2012? Tell us below which areas you’d like us to cover. Do you need more information, guidance or resources to help you with your marketing strategy? Let us know and we’ll try to help.
Have a great Christmas and a fun New Year. We’ll be back on 3 January with more news, articles, blogs, tweets, offers and advice — everything you need to help you run your business better.
Rachel Miller, Marketing Donut Editor