How many times have you been at a networking event or conference and come across a familiar face, but blank on their name? The internal struggle begins as you try to connect the face with something more concrete in your mind. Consumers face this dilemma everyday as they are inundated by offers on social media sites, endless emails clogging their inbox, and telemarketers interrupting the rare sit-down dinner.
Driven by the bottom line, and understandably so, small business owners rely on advertising as a concrete way to achieve a measurable goal, i.e. increase sales or website traffic. As we filter through postcards in the mail or online offers, we see a company’s advertising dollars at work. While the impact of advertising dollars is clearly understood, the role public relations plays is often less so.
Before solely investing your time, money, and efforts in an in-depth marketing strategy, consider these questions:
- Is the target market already well acquainted with my brand/services/products?
- How likely will a consumer open my firm’s email or read the sales offer?
If the answers are no and not likely, then a different approach might achieve better impact. A public relations strategy, designed to inform the public about who you are and what you do, will ensure your firm’s advertising dollars don’t go to waste. Incorporating public relations into your marketing strategy helps in two crucial ways:
Strengthens brand name: Being sure a consumer knows your name and exactly what your firm offers is the first step. If a consumer already knows your company’s mission and the services/products offered, s/he is more likely to engage in marketing efforts.
Enhances credibility: Enhance your firm’s reputation through articles or blog mentions. With advertising, consumers are well aware they are being given a sales pitch. Reading about how your firm’s history or a profile about the founder in a trusted media source lends a different vibe and adds to your credibility as a reputable firm.
A public relations strategy should, by no means, replace marketing efforts. Instead, the two complement one another resulting in a longer lasting (and lucrative) impact. What can your firm do to incorporate public relations with marketing efforts?
Distribute press releases: keep media informed about your latest products/services. If your firm is just entering the market, use press releases to tell your story – help the media understand the needs your firm addresses.
Target relevant media: Media outreach begins with a targeted approach. Be sure your story is heard by the right people, not a general mass, so that your target audience gets the message.
Engage on social media: Meaningful conversations with your customers strengthen your reputation. Stay in touch with customers by offering advice and tips or sharing relevant news.
As a small business owner myself, I am well acquainted with the dilemma of deciding where to spend money and time. Caught up in the day-to-day and trying to make ends meet is often the main focus, and the big picture is just something you catch a glimpse of the distance. By allocating resources to both public relations and marketing efforts, small businesses can achieve greater impact as well as meet growth and financial goals.