Here are a few reasons why small businesses should embrace their size and not feel pressure to stretch the truth or their size:
You have an expertise. Instead of building a long list of product/service offerings, focus on your strongest capabilities. Build your business on these, and you limit the risk of mistakes, which can damage your brand image.
This will also help you focus your brand and corner your niche.
Red tape is non-existent. A great asset is there is little room for bureaucracy. Instead of dealing with an automated service, boilerplate answers and inflexible rules, your customers get to deal with a person. Trust me, that’s invaluable.
There is no “bait and switch”. How many times have you been pitched by the VP or another high-level executive at a company, only to find out you will never work with that person? Instead, you will be working with a junior team that is nowhere near the initial meeting.
Yes, this junior team may be capable, but it doesn’t matter because you’ve built a report with the initial pitch team. Eliminating the bait and switch puts you at an advantage and sets the tone for an honest work relationship.
Your business is flexible. Most small businesses are nimble by design. Can you meet or complete projects at unconventional times? Do you have a unique way to work (special worksheets, work plans, etc.)? Make sure your clients know about it.
With today’s businesses, there is little room for fluff and even less time for “this is how it’s always been done.” There is a bottom line that must be met.
Considering this, have you evaluated the value you provide to your clients? Do your clients know your value? Are there things you can do to increase your value?
Many businesses are courting new clients right now, and you can believe that your current clients are on someone’s list. While you can’t stop that, you can make sure that your clients know exactly how much value you provide.
Trust me, when a prospective vendor sends in their list of services with a cheaper price tag, that might just capture some attention.
However, the things you provide that can’t be listed on a generic list of services will be your ammunition in defending your turf. And it’s better to think about that before you get called into a meeting.
Towanda Long aka mscafe
Unprofessional materials. This includes everything from business cards on the wrong paper stock to brochures printed on regular copier paper to poorly designed websites. With so many affordable options there really is no excuse.
Typos. It will get your resume filed in the trash and it will do the same for your business’ reputation. Hire a proofreader, or at the least get an English-savvy friend to review your writing.
Poor phone etiquette. No one wants to call a business and here “Hello.” Maybe “Hello, thank you for calling…”, but not just “Hello.” And we especially don’t want to hear your child answer the phone. If you are running a home-based business, invest in distinguished ring. It’s only a couple of dollars and when the phone rings you’ll know it’s a business call. Plus, you can train your kids not to answer the double ring.
Inconsistent message. If your messaging is based on newly designed technology, your CEO should not show up to the pitch meeting with a mobile phone circa 1988.
Disregard the customer experience. Your excellent product will not bring loyal customers if the person that answers the phone is rude, orders arrive late or people don’t feel appreciated. A great experience is just as important as a great product.
Towanda Long aka mscafe
You remind them of themselves. It’s that whole “birds of a feather” thing…
You’re knowledgeable (but not a know-it-all).
You add value to their life/project/business.
You have qualities they find inspiring.
You make them feel comfortable.
You have a sense of humor.
You make them smile.
Just a quick reminder that being likable is a great personality trait.
Towanda Long aka mscafe
One of the things that have been a blessing and a curse for me is my laid-back personality (except when I’m driving, but that’s another story…). Some find it admirable that I can remain calm in stressful situations; others think I don’t show enough emotion.
I don’t run around like it’s the end of the world. I do meet deadlines, whether I have five minutes or five months (I should be so lucky…). I once had a boss get upset because I wasn’t “urgently” taking care of a last minute request, even though I finished my portion of the project before him…
Yes, running around may look good, but it’s not efficient for me.
I say that to say this. It’s important to know how others see you. And it’s good to know whether they think certain characteristics are good or if they see them as your weakest link.
But, it’s also important to know when your weakest link is something that makes you special, something that you want to keep.
Towanda Long aka mscafe
I’ve been debating with a few of my colleagues (not PR professionals) about measuring the effectiveness of a PR agency. My colleagues think media placements are the best way to measure results. I disagree.
PR Agencies are so much more than pitching vehicles for mass and trade media. It is their job to develop and implement a plan that builds a positive relationship with the public. The goal of this relationship is normally to foster goodwill in the office and in the community, to attract clients and to fuel an overall positive perception.
There are many tools a PR Firm can use to do this. Of course, media placements are on the list, but it’s not the only thing. There’s speaking engagements, employee communications, white papers, social media initiatives, sponsorships and the list goes on.
If you are only using your agency for media hits, you are leaving one of your best resources untapped. It’s like going to an accountant once a year for your taxes, but not using him/her for financial and business advice. It just doesn’t make sense.
This is how I think their effectiveness should be measured. What were our sore spots a year ago? Have their initiatives addressed these? Has our image been improved in the marketplace and with our employees? If so, how much so?
These answers tell us if our agency is the right fit. After all, does it really matter how many times we were quoted in the press if our image is the same and we have the same sore spots?
Towanda Long aka Mscafe
(I’m twittering now and mscafe was available, therefore my new alias…)
Posted in branding, Business, General, marketing, Marketing Tips, mid level professionals, Public Relations, senior professionals, Towanda Long
Tagged PR, Public Relations Agency, using a PR firm
People like experiences. When they go to a restaurant they want good food AND great service. But, they will pay even more for ambiance and to feel special (think The Melting Pot).
When people go to a hair salon they want a style that is flattering. But they will pay extra if the salon offers perks (i.e. soothing music and an extra five minute scalp massage).
Think about the experience your clients have when they interact with you and your products/services. Then think about how you can make it better.
You’ll not only have satisfied customers, you’ll have brand loyalists. People like a brand because they know and like the experience that comes with it. And they’ll talk about it if that experience makes them feel special.
Towanda Long aka The Café Lady