Archive for the 'Economy' Category

09
Jun
09

Put your Money into Marketing…Especially in a Recession

Easier said than done. Or is it? Many business owners find it difficult to allocate dollars to marketing, whether they’re starting up or growing their business. However, the name of the game these days is lead generation.

The question becomes, “How am I going to keep my client base or find new consumers?”

If you are starting up your business, you are probably struggling to raise enough capital to just open the doors. However, costs today are lower than years ago. On businessweek.com, Your Startup on a Shoestring” holds true even as our economy struggles and banks tighten up their lending process.

Look to the Internet. Establish your Web site, and even do this in steps if necessary to keep costs down. Cap your pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns and budget your dollars. This article also has some great money saving tips and provides great recommendation, such as “put as much of your money into marketing as possible”.

If you are an established business trying to grow or just maintain, the same is true. Look to the Internet. Evaluate your Web site. Maybe it is time for improvements. Explore social network opportunities. Get involved. Create a PPC campaign. Update your promotions and coupons.

On entrepreneur.com, the article Win Sales from Recession-Minded Consumers discusses “3 ways to woo shoppers this summer”. You know it is all about savings!

  1. Market Special Promotions
  2. Modernize Coupons
  3. Woo Stay-at-Home Shoppers
coupon

coupon

Just think, coupons are back. And, by popular demand! This article highlights that “nearly 80 percent of consumers surveyed in the 18-to-34 age group say they’re much more likely or somewhat more likely to use coupons if they can download them and have them automatically connected to an electronically swiped frequent shopper card.” That is something to think about.

dell couponAnd coupons are not just for consumers. Dell has coupons for small businesses online.

In times of recession, we must be creative and continue to think of ways to reach clients and consumers to build relationships. Talk to your audience online or at an event. In the article Recession Marketing All About Connections, the author recommends face-to-face connections to build credibility. Hold an event and promote it though your social media networks. Promote your business at a trade show. New and old ways of marketing can be combined to keep costs down and maximize exposure.

There is a lot of good conversation and advice online for B2B and B2C. You will notice writers continue to talk about Internet marketing and social media. Why? I believe it has to do with putting clients and consumers in the driver seat and putting your money into marketing channels where you can track results immediately.

How are you allocating your marketing dollars? What results are you seeing? Let us know and we may share your story!

05
Jun
09

Does your business need a jump start?

I just returned from a compelling conference in Palm Springs, Calif. One of the keynote speakers at the event was Steve Mckee, author of the new book, “When Growth Stalls”. His presentation was an overview of general business and marketing issues that may derail your company or prevent your company from growing. I recommend anyone who is concerned about his or her business growth stalling, or wants to prevent that from happening, consider reading Mckee’s book.

Below are the highlights, based on my point of view, from Mckee’s presentation:

You company will cease to move forward when any of the following four things occur:Steve McKee, Author of When Growth Stalls

1.    Your business suffers from a lack of consensus – Your board of directors, executive team and managing personnel need to be in agreement on where the business is going and how you are going to get there. Any break in that unity will derail your plans.
2.    You lose focus on your business model – This concept should be taken to heart, especially in our current economy. Remain true to your core business model. Sure, you might need to tweak it some – you should be doing that regularly anyway. But trying to do everything for everybody just to get business…? You won’t do anything right or well if you take that approach.
3.    You lose your nerve – This issue can arise in many areas of your business, but most importantly in your pricing. Mckee said it takes two minutes to cut your rates and two years to get them back.  I recognize that many companies are currently reducing fees to gain sales, but be careful how you market the reduced rates or you could suffer the consequences when there is more money to spend down the road. Remember, don’t sell your service or product short just because you are afraid.
4.    You are inconsistent in you business and in your communications – From a marketing and public relations point of view; remember to make sure your message is integrated and consistent so that your target audience hears you loud and clear. If your current campaign is working, don’t make big or random changes to it. Make sure your public relations message and your marketing message are integrated – consumers don’t differentiate between a message they hear in paid placement (advertising) versus earned placement (public relations), so make sure you are consistent in what you are telling them.

Regardless of the size of your business or the type of product or service you are selling, you might want to consider if one ore more of these issues exist within your company and if it is holding you back from reaching your growth potential. McKee stated that recovery begins when you figure out where you are failing and you fix it. If your growth has stalled, how are you going to jump start it?

19
May
09

Public Relations for Lead Generation? Absolutely.

First lets clarify something. There is a difference between public relations and media relations. I define media relations as the actual process of developing relationships with reporters and media outlets to get your stories covered in the press. Public relations includes media relations but also includes the entire world of communicating with the public as well as creating and maintaining your public image.

If this economy is forcing you to deal with budget cuts and staff changes, stop spending money on media relations. Allocate, instead, money for public relations that will help drive lead generation and increase your business. Any PR pro that you consider working with should be able to tell you how public relations can help build business. If they can’t, you may need to reconsider working with that person or group.

Our major recommendation for using public relations to build leads is to let PR people do what they do best – write.

1. Write press releases. Think “search engine optimization” as you write them. Include key search terms in the headlines and throughout the release. If it’s not a story worth publicizing, don’t worry about it. Just get it posted on your Web site. Again, this is about lead generation, not media exposure.
2. Write white papers. Even if your target audience is not buying or looking for your services right now, they eventually will be. Get the papers posted on your site where people can find them.
3. Write research articles. Is your staff doing research? Make sure businesses know about the work you are doing and the results you are finding. If you are not doing research, there are lots of great ways to embark on research that are low-cost and easy to use. Get the research articles posted on your site.
4. Write case studies. Write about the work you have done, the successes you have made and the clients that believe in you. When possible, optimize the case studies so they can be found online.

I am a huge believer in public relations. I don’t think any company should embrace marketing without including a public relations component in the mix. But I will be the first one to tell companies in the business to business marketplace to quit doing media relations if they are having budget issues. Focus on public relations as a lead generation source and embrace what it can do for you.

05
May
09

Study shows social media is weathering economic storm among retailers

1052434_shoppingAccording to a new study released today by The National Retail Federation’s Shop.org and Forrester Research, social media marketing budgets are mostly on the rise despite an overall reduction in spending.

Mashable’s Adam Ostrow breaks it down like this:

•    Spending on social media is falling at a slower rate than spending in other online marketing channels, such as search engine marketing (i.e., pay-per-click)
•    Among retailers that are reducing spending, 56 percent are trimming search engine marketing, while only 24 percent will cut their social media marketing budget
•    Among retailers that are performing well, 12 to 20 percent will increase spending in social media marketing
•    Among retailers that are increasing budgets, 80 percent will put money into search, while 65 percent will put more into email marketing

As Adam points out, search marketing is a much larger space than social media marketing. This means that there is more money to be cut from search budgets, which helps explain why search dollars are being slashed faster than social media dollars.

I can’t say I was surprised by this study, but the findings were definitely encouraging. From what I’ve experienced so far, the social media trend doesn’t seem to be going away or slowing down anytime soon. It’s been a successful, cost effective option for companies in this economy, and I certainly see it growing by leaps and bounds once things pick up and businesses recover.

What are your thoughts on the study? Are you surprised by the results?

19
Mar
09

if I offend you, will you buy from me?

Two ads recently came to my attention and both aim to make you feel bad about your lifestyle choices in order to effect a change in your behavior. Maybe if you feel bad enough you will buy their product or use their service.  The companies in questions are Qdoba and Fitness First.

Qdoba launched their “Sad Packer” campaign recently, which seeks to demoralize consumers who pack their own lunches everyday.  Qdoba’s unconventional approach is trying to drum up interest in their $6.99 lunches. Personally, this ad would’ve been more effective if they had released it before our current economic downturn.  I think consumers who are desperately trying to find ways to curb expenditures may find this offensive.  However, the advertisements will get them thinking. The Denver Post reports that Qdoba will be utilizing “radio ads, which ask listeners if they stink up briefcases or eat alone.” Overall, I think this campaign is funny.  Qdoba definitely sounds more appealing than making my lunch at 6:30 in the morning.

sadpackers

Fitness First, a health club in the Netherlands, recently launched a campaign centered on bus stops.  They equipped the benches at these stops with a scale that displays the riders weight for all to see.

I think this might encourage someone who is a little overweight to consider signing up at Fitness First, but I think this approach will offend far more potential customers than they had hoped.  However, Fitness First must be happy with all of the free press coverage resulting from this campaign. It will not only help the Netherlands branches it will also benefit their other branches located in 16 additional countries.

bustop

02
Mar
09

Rallying Cry to End the Recession

We are going to deviate a little from our regular topics of marketing, advertising and public relations because I would like to address business in general right now.

I recently attended the International Franchise Association International Convention in San Diego, California. During the convention Matthew R. Shay, president and CEO of the International Franchise Association, and former President Bill Clinton each addressed the topic of the 2009 Business Economic Outlook. Shay and Clinton both stated that the current economic stimulus plan did not do nearly enough to help small to medium sized businesses in these economic times. This statement hit home, hard. Not only am I president and partial owner of a business that fits this description, but according to the Small Business Association, in 2007 small firms with fewer than 500 employees represent 99.9 percent of the 27.2 million businesses in the United States. Clearly, this means that there is a high likelihood that you are employed by a company that fits into this category. The current stimulus package is not going to help your employer much.

The point of this posting is not to make a political statement, but rather a simple statement. The backbone of our economy is built on small to medium sized companies creating and selling products or providing services that they in turn get paid for. And an economic recovery will not happen unless these same companies are making money and paying salaries to employees, who can then go out and spend their salary on other goods and services. The Federal Government is not going to help us get there. So what are we going to do to solve this problem on our own? What are you going to do?

I have hosted podcasts and webinars on marketing in a tough economy, and I want to reiterate a feeling I have already tried to express. We – business owners, employees, partners – all need to be committed to and confident about selling our products and services. It looks like we are going to have to claw our way out of this economic black hole on our own. But we can do it. Look out your window and see the people driving around, going to lunch and buying coffee. People are still consuming. Maybe they are consuming to a lesser degree than they were a year ago, but they are still consuming. So go after them. Go get them. Don’t become complacent in the work you are doing. Work harder and smarter to continue to sell your services and products. We may have to force this recovery on our own, but we can do it and we must do it.

How are you going to help change this economy?

26
Feb
09

Rocky Mountain News Closes Tomorrow

News out of Denver: The Rocky Mountain News, the 150-year-old newspaper, is closing its doors tomorrow. Clearly a sign of the economy, changes in advertising and the ongoing changes in PR.

Read the news from the paper itself.

15
Jan
09

Journalists Joining the “Dark Side”

More and more journalists have been leaving newspapers, TV and radio over the last several years and heading to the “dark side” (a.k.a. public relations). And with the economy tanking and media outlets laying off, cutting back and even folding, journalists are seeking jobs as PR practitioners now more than ever.

These career moves haven’t only been seen on a local level. Even former MSNBC general manager, Dan Abrams, has gotten in on the action. Late last year he started Abrams Research, “a media strategy firm that connects business leaders with a global community of media professionals.”

So what does this influx of media folks mean for PR? The way I see it, a few different things:

•    Our industry is growing (see yesterday’s post) and the media industry is shrinking. Before too long we won’t have many traditional journalists to pitch stories to – the herd is thinning.
•    The use of social media as a promotional tool will rapidly and steadily continue to climb.
•    The PR job market will become more competitive.

Over the years journalist friends and colleagues of mine, who are looking to make the leap and want some advice, have contacted me. And recently – within the past three months – this correspondence has picked up considerably.

I’ve always welcomed former journalists into this industry, but I also wonder exactly what they’re thinking and experiencing when they make the change.

Are they reluctant?

Do their fellow journalists ostracize them?

And once they’re in PR, what do they experience?

Do they have a newfound respect for our work and for us?

Is it an easy transition for them?

Have you made a move like this? What were your experiences? We’d love to know.

Check here tomorrow for funny and thrilling PR stunts!

14
Jan
09

PR Jobs Up, Advertising Jobs Down

Considering I work for an integrated marketing, advertising and PR firm, you’re probably wondering why I’m reporting bad news about advertising jobs. Well, because this is “PR Week”, and I’d like to brag about our field for a little bit!

2009annual180

According to Advertising Age’s “Annual 2009” issue, the PR industry gained 2,100 jobs (an increase of 4.2 percent) from December 2007 – October 2008. And the advertising industry lost 4,000 jobs (a decrease of 2.1 percent) in that same time period.

I know times are tough for the communications industry as a whole and I don’t wish ill will on advertising, but it warms my heart to know that PR is doing well considering the economy. My speculation on these results is that clients are both utilizing more social media and realizing that they can get more bang for their buck with PR campaigns.

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book2I can’t help but be reminded of the book “The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR” by Al Rise and Laura Rise. This was a fairly controversial book when it came out in 2002, but it doesn’t discount advertising altogether. It explains that PR and advertising should work together – PR to launch the brand, and advertising to maintain it. I think if more agencies and organizations operated this way, jobs in both fields would be up.

Share your thoughts with us on why you think PR jobs are up and advertising jobs are down. And check back tomorrow for “Journalists Moving to the ‘Dark Side’”.

13
Jan
09

Andrew Hudson’s Newspaper Tax Idea

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For those of you in the PR industry here in Denver, you’ve probably read “Andrew’s Newspaper Tax Idea” published a couple weeks ago. And if you haven’t yet, shame on you! Firstly, Andrew’s site is a great resource, both for jobs and commentary on PR. And secondly, the survival of newspapers is vital to the survival of our industry. Any and all ideas regarding saving newspapers should be a top priority. If you’re not in the Denver area, the idea should resonate with you nonetheless – whether or not you agree with it.

Ok, I’m off my soapbox now and on to Andrew’s idea. I chose to write about it because saving newspapers is imperative. The more we discuss it and welcome ideas like Andrew’s, the closer we will be to finding a solution.

In short, Andrew proposes the following:
•    Identify a percentage sales tax formula that would help subsidize the operations of both statewide and local papers.
•    Develop a three-tiered system that would define the percentage of taxpayers funding that would be available to different papers.
•    Require the papers to reach certain revenue goals in order to qualify for the subsidy.
•    Appoint a board of commissioners to oversee the distribution of funds. The board would not be involved in the editorial process of the papers.

Andrew includes much more detail in his idea, but this certainly gives you something to think about. My initial thought was that a federally backed media, even in the form of a state tax, is treading on thin ice. I can easily see the American taxpayer wanting to have some say in newspaper content – despite the checks and balances measure.

I ran this idea by a journalist friend of mine as his career largely depends on the survival of newspapers. His response was, “A free press can be the only press, even if that business model collapses under its own crushing weight.” That’s quite a rigid way of looking at it, but many true-blue journalists would agree with him.

At least Andrew is getting the idea on the market. What are your thoughts? Click here to read the responses Andrew has received thus far.




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