Some small businesses know exactly who they are and where they are going but the vast majority, while having the best products and service, are stuck in practitioner mode.
Focused on the day-to-day, with no plan or strategies in place, marketing not a priority and often left wondering where the next customer or client will come from. They are brilliant at what they do but trying to do it all alone and without a plan.
One of the things I love is training small business peeps to do is be their own publicity genie. After I get through explaining PR is and why it should be a tool to be used to build their profile and business, I ask ‘who has a plan – a marketing plan or a business plan?’, you can hear the crickets. Maybe, two people in a room of 20 people say yes.
It does make it more challenging to get where you want to be without a plan. It is like getting in a car to go to Melbourne, without looking at a map and keeping your fingers crossed hoping you are heading in the right direction just be relying on your best guess.
Business success, starts and ends, with having a plan. A map that lays out your direction, the tools you need to get there and the people you need to help you achieve your goals. Relying on your natural talents is not enough.
But … before you even get started creating a PR/marketing plan, it is good idea to get your foundations locked in … so when you have finished your plan, you have mapped out EXACTLY where you are going and how you are going to get there.
DETERMINE YOUR MESSAGE, MARKET AND MEDIA
Do your research
Will help you anticipate needs and changes. You can’t plan for everything but you can have strategies and initiatives in place to point you in the right direction. Conduct surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews to get a good idea of what your current customers/ clients like about you, why they do business with you etc. Survey Monkey is a good resource. Also look at your competitors – what are they are doing well, what do their customers say about them?
New form of bullying
As much as I love social media, it has bred a new form of bully – the troll. They come in all shapes and sizes. They lurk in Facebook groups ready to pounce as soon as you post. You send a group message about an event and they are ready with a razor-sharp lecture on all you have done wrong. Or they cushion their nastiness in a flurry of endearments, so they can pretend they are doing the world a favour. They believe their towering intellect and my-shit-does-not stink values and morals gives them the right to share their opinions without dispute.
Let’s face it, social media is a fertile playground for trolls. Hunched over their keyboards, safely behind their screens, they spew nasty vitriol and patronising prose at those of us just trying to get on with our lives. They are everywhere – no social media platform is safe. Their job is to get under your skin and they wield their nastiness without compassion or regret.
Know your target audience
Get to know the people and groups you want to hear your message; this also includes who you want to target in the media.
Know what you want to say
Once you know who your audience is, you can then work on your key messages – what is you want them to know about you.
Know other stakeholders
Who else would be interested in what you are doing? If you have employees, shareholders, JV partners etc they will need to understand and know what you are doing. Most importantly, you will need their support.
TIP – Don’t forget to share your PR successes with them.
Know the market
Make sure you check out other companies especially your competitors. Find out where other opportunities are. By exploring the market, you will also uncover other platforms for your products or services, other ways to craft your message and new markets.
Know what you can do and can’t do. To do this, have a good grasp on your time, budget and who does what. If it is within your budget, hire a PR professional because sometimes you can’t do everything!
A visual guide to help you define where and when you are going to implement certain strategies in your plan. Take into account media deadlines and other important events.
Once your plan is in place, it is time to implement it. Because you have taken the time to plan your PR campaign’s roll out, you can allocate time to action the items in the plan. Continue to monitor your plan – it is not a bookshelf decoration; it is a living document that is meant to be used.