When is the best time to think about promoting your business?

pressme-clock-01The phone rings. I answer it. It’s someone who’s just started a business. They could have invested in premises, in vehicles or equipment. They could have taken out a business loan or borrowed money from elsewhere. They’ve planned, trained and prepared and now they’re open for business. But no one knows they exist and they’re desperate to get some coverage in the local paper. They need paying customers.

Is this their marketing plan?

Sadly, this happens a lot.

So when is the best time to think about promoting your business? When you start to plan your business.

Attracting the number of customers you need for your business to be viable could take a long time. If you can, start creating awareness before you launch. It’s not always possible, but when you’ve got a heavy machine to get moving, the earlier you push start it and get it rolling slowly, the easier it will be to keep it going.

You don’t have to do a lot. Maybe add news to your web site, send a press release to newspapers when you’re ready, start social media activity, distribute brochures and business cards to stir up interest in your venture. Awareness of your business will start to grow.

It’s never to early to promote your business.

We don’t want any publicity, thank you

Today in my role as business journalist, I phoned to ask a professional firm for some industry comment. The receptionist came back and said they didn’t want to provide any. That was fine with me, because three other firms did want to respond.

Now those three other firms are likely to have their names mentioned in a newspaper for their clients and other businesses to see.

Is that worth anything to them?

Perhaps when someone is thinking of consulting a professional they will remember the names from the article or recognise one of the experts quoted from their accompanying photograph. A new client could generate £500 a year, £5,000 a year, possibly repeated year after year. And all for a few minutes to make a general comment.

I’d recommend making the most of any media opportunity like this. Some businesses are desperate to get into the press, so grab the chance if a journalist calls you.

If you’re worried about what to say, why not prepare an A4 sheet of paper that you can print out on paper or display on your PC if you do get called?

Add bullet points with basic information about what you do in your business. Then, if you start talking and lose your thread, you can use it as a prompt to return you to your point. You could even prepare sheets for different topics. And remember to add your name, title, business and web site or contact details. Make sure you get credited for your comment.

If journalists get to know that you are prepared to comment, they are more likely to call you. Then your name and your business will appear in media articles regularly and raise awareness.

What is that worth to you?

Posted via email from z2zine

Know why you’re communicating

Last week we looked at developing a communications plan, but it’s very difficult to plan when you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve.

Your business plan should remind you of your objectives. If you don’t have a business plan, it’s worth developing one before you start an ambitious communications programme so that you have definite, measurable aims. Either do this yourself or consider working with a business adviser to write your plan.

Objectives can vary from specific, such as selling a certain quantity of one product, to general, such as raising awareness, which won’t necessarily result in immediate sales but will help to build your reputation.

Every communication should have a purpose, even just to inform people. A television retailer could give free advice on the analogue to digital TV switchover in the UK: it won’t increase sales immediately, but will position the business as a specialist that can provide dependable advice. It will help to ensure that it is the first name a consumer thinks of when they need to buy a new television or set-top box, so should ultimately result in more sales.

So set objectives for the short, medium and long term, either general or specific and think of ways in which you can measure your success in achieving them.

After our last blog, do you know the tone of voice you want to represent your business?

z2zine tomorrow: Writing those first words

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