Do I Need Public Relations?

One of the more difficult aspects of marketing for companies is public relations, usually because it’s the most unfamiliar territory.

While often overlooked, public relations is integral to the growth and image of a company. You need to tell the public what you do, what products or services you offer, new happenings and so forth. Public relations is also relationship building and strategic communication with key influencers.

The difference between public relations and advertising is paid versus earned media. While you may pay for a public relations coordinator of manager, you do not pay for the placement of any media. All media is earned through the hard efforts, relationships and content produced by the public relations position or company.

A few public relations tactics include:

  1. Press releases. These are simple, but often forgotten. A simple press release announcing your company’s anniversary, a new product, a new location or a new building can get some new attention to your company. Not every press release will get picked up, but select items that would be relevant and submit on at least a quarterly basis or as special announcements come up.
  2. Pitching stories. Shorter than a press release, submitting a story idea is a good way to connect with local media outlets and give them information that may be interesting to their audience. It may be a story about how your company gives back to the community each year or a product or service that has bettered your employees, other companies or the community.
  3. Special promotions. Specific promotions can be created to help boost company awareness in the media world. We recently helped a client promote a special company anniversary by providing a PR campaign to boost awareness across their markets. There was not any advertising dollars spent, but tools for the company to use. The promotion was giving away a $5,000 donation to a local charity that the public could vote on and it went viral producing over $170,000 in earned media from online news, TV news and radio.

When putting together your annual marketing plans, make sure you include Public Relations. Whether it be press releases, community events and outreach, association integration or something else, don’t overlook this important aspect of marketing and growing your business. To learn more about the importance of public relations or marketing in general, contact us today at 515-868-0240.

Social Media in Business

Social media is here to stay. No one can argue with that. Literally billions of people are engaged on social media on a daily basis. But as a business owner, it’s ever changing and can be difficult to manage and hard to control, especially when it comes to employee engagement.

Where do you draw the line of what’s appropriate and what’s not. How can you leverage your employees to gain more visibility?

Below we’ve provided some tips on how to manage your brand and employees on social media.

  1. Social media policy. From internal and external social media managers to your employees, it’s important to establish rules and regulations for what is appropriate and inappropriate for both business and personal social media accounts. These don’t have to be too detailed, but need to give enough guidance on what is allowed and encouraged and what could be grounds for dismissal.
  2. Social media manager. This is a position that could be internal or hired out, but it’s important that someone is keeping an eye and engaging on social media. Nothing looks worse than a company who seems to be ignoring their customers and prospects on social media when expectations for response are much higher than traditional media sources. This person should be responsible for daily review of company sites, answering messages and also keeping an eye on any company tags and discussions that could be happening.
  3. Be active. People expect close to real-time response on social media. Not posting consistently shows you don’t really care and also doesn’t provide content for people to share, like your employees, who could help grow audience reach easily.
  4. Encourage employees to engage. Your employees are great assets that have reach beyond your walls. Encourage them to share content from your business pages on their personal pages. Many companies offer an incentive program for employees that share and engage rewarding with small gift cards, a small gift or extra time off!

For more ideas and tips on social media management contact us!

When is Advertising Not the Answer?

Every business hits a stagnant time or even a decline. When that happens, oftentimes, our first instinct is to up our marketing budget to get in front of more people and increase leads. This might be a good solution. However, the answer may be that our advertising budget is fine, but you have an operational disconnect.

So where is this disconnect? Many times, it’s in the conversion process (a.k.a. your internal sales process). You can put a lot of money towards marketing and lead generation, but if you can’t convert and close, those are wasted marketing dollars. Or you can have an excellent close rate, but you aren’t servicing them well or your product isn’t what they need so they are walking right out your back door.

Follow these tips to identify if you have a disconnect and, if so, how to close the gap.

  1. Track the process. You can’t improve what you don’t know. This is the most important thing you can do to determine where there may be a disconnect. Depending on your business and goals, you should be tracking your key performance indicators (KPIs), which could include: total inquiries, appointments/registrations/enrollments, new customers, customers that left and any other pertinent information to your goals and revenue. This should be done at least monthly.
  2. Analyze the numbers. Once you have a few months of tracking, it’s time to review the numbers. Do you have a lot of leads, but hardly any conversions to new customers? If so, then your disconnect is in your internal sales process. Do you have a high closing rate but just not enough leads? If so, then your disconnect is marketing related.
  3. Process improvement. If your disconnect is in your internal sales process, it’s time to review your internal processes and improve. Who is responsible for follow-up? What is that follow-up? A phone call, email? How far apart? Arm your sales team with a process for nurturing and converting leads. If your disconnect is not enough leads, but high conversion, then it’s time to look at your marketing dollars and expand reach.

Once you’ve completed the above three steps, it’s important to have a quarterly review to see if those process improvements are helping you head in the right direction.

To learn more about our services and how we can help you close the gap, contact us today.

The Dangers of Silo Thinking in Business

SilosThink about each of the product or service lines your company offers. When a company expands beyond one, confusion tends to set in on how to market the business. Should you market each product/service line, or the company as a whole? Most often, one or two product/service lines are marketed, while the others don’t receive any attention and the company marketing as a whole falls by the wayside. Suddenly, prospects think the company only has one product/service line and there is little to no cross-selling happening.

This predicament can be dangerous for a company. Not only is the client not being serviced to their full potential, as there is likely more value that your company can provide them from other departments, but you are also losing potential revenue to your easiest target audience – your current clients. Even worse – what if the other departments actively prospect your current clients without knowing they are already current customers? Looks pretty bad, huh?

These scenarios are happening every day. Below are three things you can do to break down this “silo thinking” that could be happening in your business:

  1. Hire a consultant to meet with each department head and identify their top three goals.
  2. Host a strategic meeting with the department heads to review everyone’s goals. Identify commonalities among the goals and see where departments can help each other to reach their goals. One department may be looking to grow in a market already tapped by another department.
  3. Assign goals to the company as well as the departments. Each of the department heads has a responsibility to think beyond their department. Consider how the company as a whole should be presented. Is the company brand presented before the departments or is the company secondary to the department offerings?

If you have questions on this process, then please reach out to us at 515-868-0240.

3 Ways to Find More Employees

It’s no secret that the top problem for companies of all sizes is recruiting and retaining their workforce. Often times, the challenges of finding new quality sources of employees’ lies in the famous words of Albert Einstein – “We are doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.”

Oftentimes, employers will say to use that they feel like they are scraping from the same small pool of people and aren’t getting what they need. They feel that way because they are!

Everyone wants good workers, whatever that definition is to the company. It could mean highly skilled, moderately skilled or someone that will just show up and give it their best.

Many perceive that people don’t want to work anymore. This is untrue. What is true is that for many companies, their potential pool of employees they are trying to attract may already have jobs or are unable to work. So it’s time to accept that you may need to look beyond your “usual suspects” to fill your pipeline. This new pool of candidates may have different colored skin, speak another language, have a few blemishes on their record or need some help with their social skills. But they all have a few things in common: they want to work, contribute and be self-sufficient.

Our communities and populations are changing and not just in age. In order to grow, we have to look at different strategies for recruiting and retaining employees. It’s important for all companies to have a workforce strategy in place – and not just one in yours heads, it should be a written plan.

Below are three strategies to consider to fill your workforce gap.

  1. Newer immigrant communities – Immigrants came to the United States looking for a better life and seeking the opportunity to work and achieve the “American Dream”. They’ve dealt with hardship and they’ve overcome a lot. They aren’t expecting handouts and appreciate being given a chance. You can find some of these folks by contacting local faith communities. Get to know religious leaders, invite them into your facilities and talk to them about what opportunities exist for good paying jobs with opportunities for advancement. You may need to hire some interpreters for certain shifts, you may need to translate some safety signs into a different language, but given the chance and if shown you care about them and their families, these folks will acclimate and could become some of your most loyal and hardworking employees.
  1. Disabled – Most disabled persons just want a chance to be self-sufficient, contributing members of society, like us all. When given that chance, employers report they can be the most loyal, honest and hardworking employees at the company! Think creatively about what jobs you have that could be served by a person with certain disabilities. How wonderful for a “disabled person” NOT to be disabled at their job! Connect with local social service agencies that can help you identify people who would thrive at your company.
  1. Past Offenders – People make mistakes and some people get caught. For most, they want to move forward in a positive, responsible and law-abiding way. The company that gives them that chance will be one they are likely to feel great loyalty to for a long, long time. Talk with social service agencies about how you can tap into this market of folks looking for a chance at a new life with which they can be proud.

Have you had success with other populations filling your workforce pipeline? Do you have more ideas on how to tap into these populations? We’d love to hear from you! Visit our website and contact us today.

Four Steps to Increasing Employee Retention

From a business owner to a human resource manager to any other leadership role that communicates with prospects, you’ve probably honed your speech about the benefits of working at your organization.

Unfortunately, most companies tend to forget about the individuals within their walls.

How often do you remind your current workforce of the benefits of your organization?

Do you ever ask for their input and make changes accordingly?

Employee retention and satisfaction should be on the top of your priority list. Studies have shown that 25% of employees are at a high-risk for turnover. While this challenge is loudly heard with middle-skilled employees, this turnover affects low and high-skilled employees as well. It is much easier to keep an employee then to constantly replace them.

Employee benefits can come in all shapes and sizes. From health insurance and 401K options to health and wellness programs, continuing education and the environment in which they work, it’s important to know what your employees value most to increase employee retention and decrease turnover.

You might be asking yourself, “How do I go about making sure my employees are happy?” Below are four steps that will help you.

Step 1: Share with your employees all the current benefits they have available to them (there may be some they aren’t aware of!)

Step 2: Survey your workforce. Ask them what they like and don’t like. What they wish they had and why. Consider using a third-party for this survey and both online and in-person to get accurate results. You’d be surprised at what information your employees will share with a third party that they wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with you.

Step 3: Review the data.

Step 4: Make appropriate changes.

Some changes may be more than your organization can take on right now. See what changes you can make in the short-term and long-term and appropriately communicate the changes and timeline with your team.

Some changes are easier to make than you may think. Perhaps your employees want more health and wellness opportunities with discounts to local gyms or reimbursement. Or perhaps they want more common areas for a change of scenery (especially for those that work at desks all day). Maybe they want more potlucks to interact with other team members.

Lastly, and most importantly, communicate this with your workforce. This shows you value them, their opinions and their needs.

Check out a recent case study on how Measured Intentions helped an organization with just this challenge.

Does Community Involvement Matter for Workforce Development?

Yes, community involvement is a vital part of workforce development.

Have you heard the term “culture trumps strategy”? While people want to make money and have a nice benefits package, they also want to feel like they are a ‘part of the team’ or ‘part of the family’. Everyone wants to feel important and feel like they are making a real contribution. Planned, strategic community involvement is one of the most inexpensive ways to elevate a company’s reputation in the community, attract future employees and retain current employees.

Showing that your company cares about your community and, better yet, involving your employees in those acts of caring, has some great benefits, including:

  1. Helping your workers feel like they are an important part of an influential force in their community
  2. Engendering a feeling of pride that their employer is important to the health of their hometown
  3. Drawing attention from future potential employees to your company who want to work for a company who has a management that cares

However, there must be some strategy behind your community involvement. Companies are hit up for donations and sponsorships all year long. You have to be careful not to give away the farm or allow community involvement to eat up too much valuable production time.

Check out these 5 tips to start getting involved today.

  • Employee Volunteers: Ask for employee volunteers to be part of a “contributions committee” to vet donation requests and give management/ownership recommendations. This will help employees feel they have been a part of the decision.
  • Make it Personal: Try to donate to personal employee causes: a softball team an employee plays on, an employee’s kid’s soccer team, a sponsorship for an organization that has helped an employee’s family, etc.
  • Less Equals More: Don’t spread yourself too thin that your donations aren’t noticed or as valuable. Pick one signature event where you can stand out and try to be consistent with that organization for 3-5 years. Be a leading sponsor and get your name/logo on t-shirts and banners.
  • Look for Unique Opportunities. Does your company have an empty spot of ground you could build a simple playground for the community? Is there a new event in town you can step up and secure a title sponsorship for a small investment? See if you can lock that in for a few years.
  • Get Involved! Don’t just give money. If possible, allow employees to serve on committees or volunteer at the event. One easy and inexpensive thing to do is to host event meetings at your facility. That gets people in your doors and all you need to have is some sort of conference room and some coffee.

People want to be proud of where they work. When out and about, they want to see their employer’s logo on the baseball field fence or on a banner hanging over Main Street. If their employer is important to the community, the employees feel they are equally important to the community because where would that company be if not for them!

For more ideas on simple community and workforce development, contact Measured Intentions today!

Fun at the ABI Golf Outing

The 15th hole at the Des Moines Golf and Country Club was the place to be this past Monday. Measured Intentions and Elevate Advanced Manufacturing teamed up to sponsor a hole at the ABI Executive Open. With props in hand, MI and Elevate welcomed golfers as they rolled up to the hole. The props were part of a fun Instagram-esque photo op to help commemorate the day. We enjoyed seeing familiar faces and meeting a few new ones. Thanks again to ABI for allowing us to be a part of the Executive Open. We look forward to seeing everyone at the Legends and Advanced Manufacturing Conference on October 3rd and 4th!

Print is Not Dead

The onset of social media and the detail we can capture from the digital world is truly quite amazing. Being able to pinpoint someone based on their social media behavior and the websites they visit seems like it should be out of some futuristic sci-fi movie, but the reality is this capability is here today.

As the digital world continues to develop it’s important not to forget about utilizing additional tried and true marketing methods, such as print, which has been around since 1440. (Actually, long before then, but not in mass form.)

We hear quite often that “print is dead”. We’re here to tell you, it’s not. Yes, publications are now offering online editions, but print itself is not dead. The only difference between using print now versus 15-20 years ago is the strategy behind how you use it.

As with every newer medium, it can also become saturated (and sometimes obnoxious) quickly. So we’ve put together just a few benefits to considering using print.

3 Benefits of Print Advertising:

  1. Longer shelf life. You’re probably not receiving as much mail as you used to? It’s most likely now all coming to you email inbox! Print mail is tangible, something people can hold onto, giving it a longer shelf life versus a digital ad which lasts up to 30 seconds at most.
  2. Sensory play. Print allows you to use an individual’s senses and engage with a piece. They hold it, feel it, maybe peel back an offer or remove a coupon to put in their purse or wallet. You can’t do that with digital. Everything from paper type to folds is engaging with your future customer, giving them an experience to talk about or better yet, bring into the office to show others!
  3. Full attention. Print allows you full focus of your audience’s attention. You don’t have to share your print add with another advertiser or compete for attention on a webpage or in your email inbox. It gives you more space (depending on what you’re mailing) to inform and educate. Apart from in-person or a phone call, direct mail is the next best medium for a sales pitch based on engagement and space to educate. Plus, you can always list your website to drive traffic.

3 Ways to Strategically Use Print Advertising:

  1. The same as digital, you can purchase lists based on just about every demographic available. The most effective print advertising is that which is targeted to your audiences. What do they enjoy doing? What do they read? How many kids do they have? What is their household income, etc.
  2. Marketing Mix. Your marketing plan shouldn’t be all or nothing. You need to have a marketing mix, which means using cross-channel mediums driving home the same message or call-to-action. Print should be combined with digital, email and other tactics depending on cost such as radio or billboard. A strong marketing mix will make you top of mind.
  3. Think out-of-the-box. Direct mail and print doesn’t have to be the oversized postcard. If you’re mailing a small number, think about spending a little more on the piece to create more engagement. Also consider the types of cues you use to open mail. Is the mailing address handwritten? Is it in a nice envelope? Is there more than one piece?

Here are a few out-of-the-box prospecting direct mail pieces we’ve helped put together that received great results!

Risk Game:

Slide6Purpose: AFR Insurance (now Gallagher Insurance) wanted to set-up meetings with new prospects. MI helped them identify their “Top 10” prospects and developed this campaign idea involving a vintage RISK game and a wrap band. The band said, “RISK is fun in a game, but not in life.”

Results: AFR Insurance sent 10 RISK games and set-up 9 meetings.

Umbrella Mailer: 

Purpose: Merit Resources wanted to set-up meetings with new prospects. MI helped them identify their “Top 10” prospects and developed this campaign idea involving an umbrella in a nice case. A card in the box said, “Merit Resources offers an umbrella of services to keep you protected.” The follow-up plan involved sending messages based on the daily weather patterns.

Results: Merit Resources sent 10 umbrellas and set-up 8 meetings.

The “Silver Bullet” of Marketing

Written By: Kathleen Riessen

Instant gratification is not a millennial trend – it is a way of life that businesses have adapted to for years. Here are a few examples:

  1. Baking a cake. How did your Grandma bake a cake? She collected the ingredients and baked it at home in her oven. Today’s cost to bake a cake from scratch is about $2 and takes roughly two hours. Then came the invention of cake mixes. For $5, I can add oil and eggs to make cake mix, bake in the oven and cover with store-bought frosting. An hour later, I have myself a cake. Then came the designer cake. I can order the size, flavor, frosting and decorations of my cake and even have it delivered to my house! If I’m not super picky, I can even pick one that’s already made so I don’t have to wait. This will cost me $30+ but I can have my cake instantly.
  2. Package delivery. In 2005, Amazon brought us Prime. For $79, I could select an item and have it delivered within two days. A mere 11 years later, 40 million people or 12.5% of the U.S. population now pays $99 a year for Amazon Prime. But that’s not good enough. In 2015, Amazon came out with a new service called Prime Now, which provides two-hour delivery on more than 10,000 items in 24 U.S. markets. For an additional $8, select food purchases will be delivered within one hour in key markets.
  3. I recently toured American Popcorn Company, home of Jolly Time popcorn. This is a booming industry but has been around since the 19th century. The simplest (and healthiest) way to prepare popcorn is by popping the kernels over a heat source taking roughly five minutes to prepare. Then came microwave popcorn full of butter and salt and then flavored microwave popcorn was added. Microwave popcorn takes roughly three minutes to prepare. Then came pre-popped popcorn. This is a shelf stable popcorn with preservatives that can be enjoyed instantly and costs roughly 100% more per kernel than the popped seeds. When I toured Jolly Time, I learned that people think microwave popcorn takes too long to pop!

You can see from the above examples how instant gratification has affected our lives and how we go to business.

When it comes to marketing, we often see people wanting quick results – the instant gratification. They want the “silver bullet”. The truth is there is no silver bullet. There are short-term tactics that will garner short-term results. Short-term tactics often get confused or replaced with long-term tactics. Short-term tactics do not garner long-term results. A bunch of short-term tactics combined together do not give you long-term results.

From employee recruitment and retention to selling a widget or promoting a professional service, the reality is that short-term tactics are more expensive and garner less results than if you had a balanced marketing strategy that included both short and long-term tactics.

So we leave you with the following question: Are you using a variety of short and long-term tactics in your go-to-market strategy? If not, contact us and let us help you develop a comprehensive strategic marketing plan.