Business Insight: Use old, new sources to market your business
Marsha Friedman, CEO of EMSI Public Relations, says companies should never stop marketing, yet it can be the first thing that's cut when times get tough.
Why is sustained marketing important?
Marketing is the foundation of every business. If you don't constantly generate interest in your company (or product or service), you'll feel it later in sales. It's like a stream that feeds a pond: If the stream stops flowing, the pond eventually dries up. If a company has a good product and goes out of business, I can assure you it's because the CEO is either not marketing or not marketing effectively. CEOs who aren't marketers just don't realize how essential it is, and it's the first thing they cut when times get tough. In any business or practice, you've got competition. If your competitor is marketing and you're not, they're going to get the customers. It's that simple.
How can companies regain marketing momentum?
The best approaches can be different depending on the industry, but in general, the first thing to do is to immediately pull together a database of past, current and prospective customers and start communicating with them. Create a newsletter or some other communication that provides them with valuable information relevant to the problem(s) that your product or service solves, establish a schedule for creating and distributing it, and then send it out like clockwork. The key here is to provide valuable information not try to sell! This will remind your past customers of what you have to offer; they'll be your best prospects for new sales. Your information will strengthen the confidence current customers have in you, and it will encourage prospective customers to move toward a sale. It's important to keep growing that customer database, so the next step is to establish other means for adding to it, such as offering a newsletter sign up on your website.
What are some fresh ways to stay in the public eye?
If you're not using social media, you need to get on that immediately and start building your profile. There are a number of social networks now, from Facebook to Pinterest to Twitter. But the social media landscape is constantly changing: New networks are created, and old networks make changes that can make them more or less popular, so you need to find the ones that work best for your message and your audience. I like Google+. It's only 2 years old, but it has grown quickly in popularity. Facebook isn't the great deal it once was. They've done too much to try to monetize it since their IPO. I'm also a big believer in using traditional media radio, TV and print, both hard copy and online to establish visibility and credibility as an authority on topics relevant to your business. Just as you share valuable information in a newsletter that goes out to your customer database, you should offer yourself up as an expert for interviews by journalists and talk show hosts. That kind of publicity will give you a reputation no advertising can buy!
What are other marketing tools?
There are a whole range of tools. The advent of the Internet has opened up all kinds of opportunities that are so much more affordable even free than what we had 23 years ago when I launched my business. Identify your audience and figure out which tools are the best for getting in front of it, keeping in mind that an integrated approach usually works best. Some of the tools? Social media, traditional media, speaking engagements, hosting seminars and hosting your own radio show. You can write a blog and a book it doesn't have to be long in fact shorter is preferred nowadays, and it's great marketing, too. Create a free newsletter or other tips-sharing communication or connect with a charity. With everything you do, your goal is to drive people back to your website, where they can connect with you and be added to your customer database. Marsha Friedman, executive