November 16th, 2009 18:56 EST
Positioning Your Business For Success
There`s a lot of maneuvering going on in today`s entrepreneurial marketplace. Everyone`s trying to get their piece of the action or in some cases, all of the action. How does a business get an edge?
Many businesses have products or services that never get the recognition and commercial success they should simply because they are the victims of bad or improper marketing, advertising and public relations. No matter how great the organization believes their product or service is, if they haven`t put together a plan to inform their target audience that it`s on the market, they might as well close up shop.
An effective marketing plan should incorporate a clear knowledge and understanding of whom the company sees as their customer. This can be accomplished by researching who currently uses a similar product or service. In the case of consumer products and services find out where potential customers live, how old they are, what their shopping habits are, what newspapers they read, television shows they watch, radio stations they listen to, websites they visit, and when applicable, what gender or ethnic groups they comprise. All this information is available on the web, through media and marketing consultants, chambers of commerce, trade associations and newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations.
If you are a business-to-business organization the overall research will be similar, however, the targets will be different. Find out what companies and organizations use comparable products, where they are located, what the usage rate is for their industries, what problems are pervasive relative to your type of products and/or services, and what trade publications they read. The periodicals will, quite often, help you with data to support your marketing decisions if they feel that you may advertise in their publications.
After you or your marketing professional has completed the research, break your plan into three distinct areas: marketing, advertising and public relations. Each area supports the other but is a separate entity unto itself.
Marketing is the function of selling products and services by communicating with the targeted market directly. Marketing deals with the shape of the bottle; color, style and feel of the blouse; logo and tag line of the brand and/or company; placement of the product in stores; look of the salesperson; a brochure`s graphics, fonts, textures and photos; design and functionality of a machine, website and/or product; and all the other nuances that create a direct impression in the mind of the customer and/or prospect.
A logo that is too confusing or amateurish can leave a prospect wondering about the credibility of the organization. The wrong " paper stock in your brochure can do the same. A salesperson that is untrained or unkempt projects a marketing message that says the company is not up to par. How often have you passed a product simply because of the look of its packaging? We all are guilty of judging a book by its cover " that`s marketing!
Your product or service must reflect a sellable marketing image.
Public relations (PR) is the function that builds relationships and camaraderie between a business and its target markets. Whether it takes the form of a feature story about the company and its founder in the local newspaper, is done as a planned special event, or is a report or interview on the national news, the public relations function makes the reader, viewer, or listener, feel closer to the organization, its founder or spokesperson, and its products and/or services. That is, of course, if the stories are positive. Bad public relations can destroy an organization, as we all have seen within the past few years. The old adage that there`s no bad PR "because as long as they`re talking about you, it`s better than no PR at all, is a lot of garbage. Just ask the folks at Rite Aid, Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Anderson or Governor Eliot Spitzer.
Make sure that before you execute your public relations campaign you have all aspects of what you are about to promote fully understood. Rehearse your responses to what you think you may be asked (even the more controversial items). Have your facts easily accessible. And don`t prompt questions into areas you know nothing about. It`s ok to say, I`m not sure. "
A common error that befalls many businesses is that the lure of the media is stronger than the preparedness of the organization. It is not unusual for a company to hear the call of the media and jump at the chance to appear without sizing up the capabilities of the organization. Once a media outlet (whether it`s consumer or trade) comes calling and you and your company answers the call unprepared it is extremely difficult to get the same publication, television, radio station, or new media outlet, to return. Being unprepared also means not having the means to handle the onslaught of business that often comes with media exposure. If you are not ready to handle the increase in customers don`t execute the PR plan, it`s the easiest way to lose credibility and clients.
Advertising is the third side of the marketing triangle. It is used to sell an organization`s products and/or services outside of their locations in order to bring customers or clients to the store or office (or have them contact the company by phone, fax or e-mail). Advertising is done through paying the mass media for space in their publications, websites, or time on their radio or television stations. Advertising integrates many of the marketing elements into its implementation. McDonald`s Golden Arches " are a marketing element that appears in all its advertisements, as is Nike`s Swoosh ". Target advertising can be quite effective. Untargeted advertising can create an unnecessary revenue drain.
A business that is positioned for success is a business that understands the importance of the integration of marketing, advertising and public relations. Each area supports the other. To do two without the third is like building a two-legged chair. Spend the time to examine how you want to position and promote your organization. Stand back and realistically ascertain your target markets and how you intend to capture them. Then create, with the help of a professional if need be, a strong and viable three-pronged marketing plan that will enable you to succeed.
Dan Goldberg is a keynote speaker and the President of Dan Goldberg Consulting, L.L.C. a training, coaching and business development firm located in the Philadelphia, PA area. He is the author of the book Lighten Up and Lead, " co-author (with Don Martin) of the book, The Entrepreneur`s Guide to Successful Leadership, " and author of The Six Steps To Solid Sales Success " and The Seven Elements of Successful Management " programs and the audio tape Growing A Successful Business ". You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit his website at www.dangoldberg.com or reach him at (215) 233-5352
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