So you have a budget for Sales and Marketing but it’s looking kind of tight. Orders are down and you know promotion is key but your £30k a year sale rep seems to have achieved bugger all (and the last one that did took it with him when he started up in competition down the road!). You are questioning your advertising budgets, directories don’t seem to have the same allure, and online has limited success. You want to build credence and prestige – build a reputation that sets you above the rest. Then I suggest PR.
Bill Gates famously said that if he were down to his last $100, he’d spend it on PR. And one of my favourites, the late great Anita Roddick, grew her Body Shop empire in the early days purely on PR as she could not afford advertising.
So why do people use public relations and how can it be so powerful?
PR is about targeting specific target audiences with very specific messages. Essentially, it’s a creative and very cost-effective way of talking directly about your products, services and your values, without blatantly advertising. It builds credibility.
You know the best way of getting business is recommendation – this is a media driven way of getting potential clients to know you even if you haven’t been recommended. It increases their awareness of you and, as part of that seven part client winning process, it builds credence and substance to your brand. The sales environment today is fickle – with many believing that telesales is dead. Adverts in local directories or random websites are equally ineffectual. Mail outs need to be directed and attention grabbing, and even then it’s difficult to gauge the effectiveness. But with 6 months of sustained PR under our belts we are seeing a very real impact in our sales.
We’ve been on radio, on the Sunday Times, in the Financial Time, in Elite franchise, in Real Business, Growth Business, City AM and more – it is great for credibility, helps people find you more easily and it a great door opener to resistant clients.
You can do it yourself, or you can outsource and get it done for you. Funnily enough all the PR we have had in the last year has been without an agency, although very good ones are out there. The one cautionary tale I would state though is make sure your PR agency is up to the job – you need to make sure it is very targeted and you are getting the right kind of publicity. Not all publicity is good publicity – or the right market, and that’s a waste of your time and effort!
In marketing it is a given that what you write or what a journalist writes about you (providing it is positive) is at least TWICE AS POWERUL as an advert. That’s because people will trust it more than a piece of subjective self-promotion.
So think about PR – it’s a great tool in your marketing armoury. And I am sure you have lots to share that the journalist will be all too happy to tell your clients all about.