insightfulmarketing

Simple, effective and insightful small business marketing

Seasonal Marketing March 15, 2012

First quarter is coming to an end…where do you stand with your marketing plan and accomplishing your annual goals?  For many businesses, there is a seasonal upswing in the summer months.  Whether you own a landscaping, childcare, vacation rental or other business that see sales increase during the warmer months, then you need to start thinking about what your marketing tactics look like now.  It’s not too late! What is the message you want to convey to new and returning customers? How do you plan on reaching them? Do you have longer lead advertising, like print, set?

Marketing Plan

One of the best things to do is create a reverse timeline. Working backwards from what you considered to be the kick-off of your busy season, will help you get printed materials in full gear with plenty of time to spare. In addition, it gives your business the opportunity to hone its messages, regardless of the medium you choose to deliver them with.

During your non-peak season, you will also want to keep your brand in front of your target customer. At this point your business can save money by having fewer ads and less promotional activity.  However, you should continue to promote brand recognition so that they will draw instant attention to your seasonal marketing plan once it launches. A brand, even one with a seasonal business should not disappear altogether as the ramp up period then becomes more arduous as businesses attempt to re-connect with their customer base.

The critical aspect of your overall business plan is to have your annual marketing plan in place well in advance of your peak season(s) and plan your marketing budget accordingly so you can manage cash flow effectively.  By managing marketing expenses throughout the year, you’ll have tactics in place for the peak times as well as non-peak times when you want your brand to stay in the minds of the consumer, thus creating a very effective overall strategy.

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3 Steps to Better PR for Your Small Business March 1, 2012

What is PR? And how can your small business use it effectively? Public Relations is ultimately the relationship between the public and your company…it also encompasses the professional maintenance of a favorable public image. Certainly, PR will always focus on publicity, but today it includes community participation both on-line and off, bylined articles, public speaking, media commentary, relationships with local area reporters and development of a good professional reputation.

Brand Building & Public Relations #03

These elements of PR can be particularly effective at local and regional levels and therefore, especially useful to your small business….and it’s not as scary as you might think.  You know your business best, so who better to craft and tell it’s story!

1.  Who is your audience?

Amazingly, even large corporations often fail to realize who their audiences actually are. It’s important to define your “audience” – Think about the individuals or groups who have any interest or stake in the activities of the business. This can reach far beyond just your current customers. It’s totally possible that your audiences includes the local media, your neighbors and surrounding community, current/ former employees and their families, vendors/suppliers, networking organizations, government regulators/agencies at several levels and even your competitors. And remember, audiences–friendly or not–have the power to communicate information about you and your company.

2.  Develop a PR plan

Even without a degree in journalism or marketing this is obtainable.  It doesn’t need not be complex, in simplest terms, a PR plan consists of a few elements:

  • Objectives:  identify your goals and what you want to accomplish for your business.
  • Positioning:  decide how you want to be perceived by the audiences you’ve determined. As the best quality sign maker in town, or the least expensive sign maker?
  • Key messages: prioritize the most important facts about your business.

Once you have developed these core concepts, you can create:

  • Strategy–how you can accomplish your objectives. For example, you may adopt a strategy of marketing your products services only to those in a high-end demographic group. Or create the impression that your products are more expensive, but worth their quality.  Or position your business as an innovator in a technology instead of just a follower. None of these are new, but continue to be good illustrations of simple business strategies.
  • Tactics–the tools or means to carry out the plan you’ve established. Speeches, articles, sitting on advisory boards or committees, media outreach and social media outlets are all good tactics for small businesses.

3.  Develop a relationship with and use local media

Small business owners should never be intimidated to get their story out to reporters.  Especially at local and regional levels, the media are always looking for a new story, a different angle, a fresh approach to business and therefore, potentially interested in you and what your business is all about. These media outlets, charged with covering their communities, do not have the vast resources of celebrities, renowned experts and satellite feeds. They may very well need you and what you have to say about your industry or market segment…and it’s what their readers are interested in.

When your business gets a significant new customer, invests in new equipment, moves to a new location, wins a community award or comes up with a solution to a community problem, don’t hesitate to call an appropriate media outlet. You may not always get coverage, but you have nothing to lose by cultivating and maintaining these valuable relationships.  Who knows, you may be asked for comment on a related story, which garners more exposure for your business.

In your small business, what do you know, offer, produce, compile, interpret, provide, market, analyze, understand or do better than anyone else? Whatever it is, someone among those audiences wants to hear more about you…so tell them!

 

Finally, here are a few things not to do as you become more adept at delivering effective PR for your company…

 

Don’t rely on spamming the media with your press releases and PR pitches. It won’t work.

Send out press releases without search-engine-optimization keywords. You are missing out on a great opportunity to get more online exposure.

Adhere to deadlines. Find out the cut-off dates or times for an outlet to receive your information. There’s no point in sending timely information if you’ve missed their deadline. If they ask for further information by a certain date, make sure they get it!