Over the past couple of months I have spoken to over 100 small and medium sized business owners, and have asked them the same question:
What is the one thing that would improve your company?
99% of the time (the odd man out wanted more donuts) the answer is something along the lines of, “we’d like more sales”.
With a little more digging, it’s clear that the organization really doesn’t have a problem with sales. Irrespective of whether this is a B-to-C or B-to-B company, or the company sells a product or a service, once in front of the prospective customer (in-person or virtual), they can make the sale with a good success rate.
What it comes down to is a need for business owners to increase the number of prospective customers they can sell to. Oh, by the way, that’s called marketing.
Marketing can very simply be broken down into three prospect buckets:
- had no idea the company existed, which is why there was no interaction
- have some idea the company exists but doesn’t have the motivation to purchase from them
- have previously purchased (or interacted at a very close level)
OK, so there is a fourth group – prospect knows the company, but doesn’t want to purchase from them – so lets leave those naysayers out of it. They are way too much work to convert.
For the first bucket (never knew the company existed) there is also a good chance that if the prospect doesn’t know the company, then visa-versa, the company probably doesn’t know the prospect.
While instinct may be to purchase a full-page newspaper advert, or place a series of 30-second TV commercials, neither come very cheaply. You see, the reality is that advertising takes a consistent, extensive budget. Even the lower cost online advertising, if used to any degree of success, needs a sizable budget.
The company can’t turn to direct mail, because you don’t know the prospect’s details. You could purchase a database, but it’s going to be a lot of hard work. The company probably doesn’t have a good conference/trade show to go to…. so the options of marketing are running out.
Oh, there is of course public relations.
You see, the whole world of PR just makes sense.
There’s no database to purchase because each publication (virtual or hard) already hits a pre-defined target audience.
There is next to no production cost required (unlike most advertising).
In fact, so long as you have something newsworthy and of interest to say to a defined group of people, I bet any reader $100 I can find a publication that will want to cover that story… hell, I bet $100 I can find a few publications that will have an interest.
So, the only challenge, is to find something to say that’s newsworthy and of interest.
I’ve yet to find a small to medium sized company that isn’t doing something amazing in this economy.
So to all businesses out there that need more sales, my message is simple – tell the amazing story. If you can find the right media that has the same interest as your target audience, you’ll be driving potential customers to your door.
And as an added bonus, PR doesn’t just hit that first bucket. At no additional cost you’ll be promoting sales in the other two buckets. Sounds like a winner to me.