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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.

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!

Strengthening the Marketing and Sales Process

blue chain link

Written By: Kathleen Riessen

A few years ago I decided I wanted to give back to the local community so I called a well-known non-profit that had been asking for my help for years and offered my services. From serving on the board to performing tasks, I was up for anything. I waited and waited for a call back. No one called. Fast forward to a few months ago. I decided to give this non-profit another chance. I called and left them a message. Crickets. No one called me back. This time I was mad. Why would you send me all of these requests for help and then not return my calls?

In this example, the non-profits had great marketing. They established a need and a desire in me to help them, but when I took action, they failed miserably.

While it’s easy to understand that non-profits are stretched thin, generally have budget shortfalls and are understaffed, we can all think of examples in the government and for-profit industries where their marketing has worked, but their sales process or the hand-off from marketing to sales has failed.

How do we strengthen this hand-off between sales and marketing?

  1. Make sure the process is clearly documented. In the case of our non-profit, something as simple as answering the phone would have solved the problem.
  1. Identify the points that cause prospects to become uncomfortable or frustrated. Maybe the response time to get back to them is too long or there isn’t enough information on your website.
  1. Assign metrics to understand how the process is working. For example, how long should it take to respond to a phone call? If the answer is 24 hours, then create a log for all incoming calls and record the time and date in which you responded.

These simple steps will increase your marketing ROI and turn prospects into happy customers.

 

But I Didn’t Say That!?!?

Written By: Kathleen Riessen

Confused woman

Many years ago my husband sent me to the hardware store to buy ¼” pipe. I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person, and while Noah wouldn’t have asked me to help him build his ark, I know how to swing a hammer. So off I went to the hardware store. The pipe aisle had many different options but I couldn’t find ¼” pipe so I asked an employee.

Me: Hello sir. I am looking for ¼” of pipe.

Hardware helper: Sure, how long?

Me: ¼”

Hardware helper: Yeah, I get that. How long?

Me: Ummmm . . . I don’t understand your question.

Hardware helper: (Trying to control his laughter). Why do you need the pipe?

Me: My husband asked me to get it. He’s building a patio.

Hardware helper: (Now visibly laughing. He hands me a long pipe). Here, take this home. It’s what you need.

So I took a long pipe home, handed it to my husband and said, “I’m sorry. I know you wanted ¼” but they made me buy this whole thing.” My husband tried to control his laughter and said that was what he needed.

How was I to know that ¼” described the thickness, not the length?

 

People interpret information based on their set of life experiences. When you are communicating through advertising, you lose control of how people interpret your message. Quickly, people can draw the wrong conclusion and make assumptions about you, your product or service.

When developing your messaging, make sure you are succinct and direct and, for goodness sake, test your message on a few people first.

Part Seven: Measuring Effectiveness

Today’s topic concludes our blog series – how to build a successful strategic marketing plan.

We’ve covered the following steps in building out a strategic marketing plan:

Building a Successful Strategic Marketing Plan

Effective Marketing Strategy Part One: Research

Part Two: Data Analysis

Part Three: Identifying Your Business Goals

Part Four: Defining Your Target Audience

Part Five: Identifying Effective Marketing Tactics

Part Six: Implementing the Marketing Plan

So you’ve put all this work into researching, developing the plan, assigning roles and responsibilities and have started implementing the plan.

How will you know if your marketing plan is effective? By measuring your specific tactics.

Many times we hear, “I tried doing that and it didn’t work.” Our first question is “How do you know?” Without setting specific goals to measure your tactics, it becomes very subjective as to what did or did not work.

Review your tactics and decide how you are going to track its “effectiveness” to reach your business goals. Know your baseline (current state) and put a value on each tactic. How valuable are new leads – $50, $100? What is the cost of a product or service? Knowing this value will help you determine your ROI for each metric, which will answer the question “is it effective?”

Examples of metrics to use include:

  1. 30% monthly open rate of newsletter
  2. 10 new leads from email blast
  3. 10% new visitors to website
  4. 8 monthly purchases of product or service
  5. 12 new registrants for event

Let’s look at a quick example for metric #2 listed above – sending out an email blast.

Say the cost of sending out the email is $500. If you value a new lead at $100, you’ll need at least five new leads to cover your cost. Ten new leads and you’ve got a good ROI.

The true effectiveness is the value you put on it. Some may consider covering the cost effective enough, while others may view the engagement with the content effective. These are values you will need to determine based on your business goals.

There may be some situations in which a tactic cannot necessarily be tracked, for instance a brand awareness billboard. In these cases, we recommend training your employees to get in the habit of asking people where they heard about your company, your products/services. It could be as simple as asking them to check a box from a list of choices.

Lastly, and more importantly, we need to remind you that there’s no one-time silver bullet for engaging response or gaining leads. Many times tactics need a specific length of time to run to become effective or need to be tweaked. You just need to start somewhere to start gaining those insights and seeing those patterns to make adjustments to continually improve.

So this concludes our blog series – how to build an effective strategic marketing plan! We hope you found these posts helpful and insightful. When it comes time to plan your marketing, make sure to refer to these posts or contact us to help!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Six: Implementing the Marketing Plan

Whomever pulls the sword from the stone will lead this project comic

There’s nothing worse than taking the time to research, develop and create a full marketing plan and then not following through on implementing it.

In this series, we’ve reviewed the following steps to building a successful marketing plan:

Building a Successful Strategic Marketing Plan

Part One: Research

Part Two: Data Analysis

Part Three: Identifying Your Business Goals

Part Four: Defining Your Target Audience

Part Five: Identifying Effective Marketing Tactics

Even if you do all of the above, a marketing plan is only effective if you actually follow it . . . and measure it (which we’ll get to in our next post).

Assigning roles and responsibilities to each of the tactics you included in your plan is essential.

This could be one person, a marketing department, a marketing firm or a combination of all.

For some clients, we will help to the point of creating the strategic marketing plan and then turn it over to them to implement and track. For others, they want us to help with some implementation, or even all implementation.

It really boils down to time and resources to assure it happens.

After you have finalized each of the tactics within your marketing plan, add a column or note next to each to add in the name of the person responsible for completing and monitoring that specific tactic. In addition to the name of the responsible party, add the due date of this task so they understand when it needs to be completed by. This adds accountability and eliminates any “assumptions” that someone else is handling it.

This is a simple step, but a crucial one that is often overlooked.

Make sure to follow us for the last part in this series – measuring success!