There’s No Such Thing As Overnight Fame

Journalists get so many stories in their inbox. Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame…and they want their friendly neighbourhood journalist to give it to them.

After all, a story in the media is the ultimate in third party credibility. You’ve got serious street cred when your story appears in a well-known newspaper or magazine, or you are interviewed on a radio program.

And as much as people bag the media … when you are in business, and looking for free publicity, a journalist is your new BFF.

With these new-fangled dooba hickies called the internet and social media, stories are there for the taking. Look at how many Tweets are used as the basis of a story.

If you are working with a public relations agency, know they are not miracle workers… a modern day magician who could wield control over the media and make them do what they’re told.

PR can make you famous overnight….quite often for all the wrong reasons. But do not expect the media to fall at your feet after ONE media release.

Building credibility and a brand is not going to happen overnight. It will happen … but not overnight.

Like ANYTHING in life and business … true success, real sticky results TAKES TIME!  You have to have a plan (a good marketing plan as your foundations is a great start), patience, a mindset that understands delayed gratification and the value that comes from building relationships and a robust content plan.

Think about when you met your partner. Like most couples, there was an immediate attraction. You liked each other.  Thought the other person had something to offer that would bring benefit to your life. So you dated. Got to know each other. Spent time with each other. Then you took it further.

Getting free publicity, building a brand, becoming famous is so not different to starting a romantic relationship or friendship. It takes time to build something of value.

A house does not go up overnight – it starts with foundations and then each layer is added until a number of weeks/months down the track, you have a solid structure.  Even then, it is still not done; fittings are added, carpet, lights, air con … and then the furniture comes in. Have I said it takes time?

You may get a win or two in the media to start with but expecting astronomical results straight off the bat is unrealistic.

If you truly want your marketing and PR to work – STICK WITH IT.  If you engage a marketing or PR professional to help you, understand they are not a miracle worker, they do not own the media, they cannot guarantee the media will take your story (stop asking, there are no guarantees in life) and they will work to a strategy that will bring results over time.

Here are a few thoughts to manage your expectations around using marketing and PR:

  1. Create a plan and stick to it.  When the going gets tough, go back to your plan, reassess and revise but keep moving forward. Test and measure your results; what doesn’t work, drop, what does, keep doing it. But one month, two months, even three months is not enough time to judge results.
  2. There is such thing as an overnight success or luck.  Read Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point and Outliers, he has some great insights into this. It takes time to become ‘well known’. Ask anyone who is an overnight success how long it took them to achieve their goals – it took hard work, patience and persistence.
  3. There is no magic stick. PR is not going to save your business, it is not going to suddenly have millions knocking your door down for your product and service.  Marketing and PR is all about relationships – building them with your prospective customers (be helpful) and with journalists (be helpful and available – you may not always get a story run but keep in touch)
  4. Foundations are vital. All good things start with solid foundations – systems and processes in place, marketing plan locked in, etc – and then you are ready to start building up and out.
  5. Success is an inside job. You can have all the above in place but if your mindset is off, all the success in the world means nothing. If you do not understand or accept the trials and tribulations of being in business, you’ll be easily discouraged, give up too soon and blame others. Invest in personal development, read books, get a mentor, go to workshops and seminars, and build resilience. Be in it for the long haul because if you do, then you will see great results.

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Three Ms for Mapping Your Small Business Path

When asked ‘who has a plan – a marketing plan or a business plan?’, you can hear the crickets. So many small businesses have no plan in place.

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.

When asked ‘who has a plan – a marketing plan or a business plan?’, you can hear the crickets. So many small businesses have no plan in place.

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?

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.

Avoid overwhelm

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!

Timeline

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.

Take action

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.

Secret Power of Interacting on Social Media

There’s always lots of Facebook posts flying around asking people to support those in small business.

Instead of spending your money with the big multinationals, redirect some of your spend to the little guys.

A glorious sentiment. Helping someone build their dream. Helping someone grow their business to the point where they are earning a profit and can employ others.

Why do we struggle with that?

We have no problem walking into Woolworths to spend $200 on stuff in boxes but when our friend asks us to buy their skin care or other useful product, we are reticent to part with our hard-earned cash.

You see it all the time for those in network marketing – they offer similar if not better products than the big well known chains. Yet their friends run for cover when asked to buy from them.

There is a scientific reason for this (but when Googled this phenomena, there was nothing). The same mindset on Facebook.

For those in small business, the holy grail on Facebook is to get likes and people engaging with our posts. Achieving organic reach is the ultimate but many of us find this hard without spending a few bucks on advertising. Even then, there is no guarantee of post cut through.

You see pages with thousands of people as likers; there is lots of ‘to’ going on but not a lot of ‘for’. No comments being made and hardly any likes.

There’s a few reasons for that:

  • The content sucks – boring and uninspiring
  • The content misses the mark – not understanding the target audience
  • Posting at the wrong time of day
  • Facebook has changed it algorithms AGAIN
  • People do not understand the power of interaction and supporting the business (person)

Let’s say you tick all the other boxes – your content is fresh and interesting, you understand your target audience, you know when to post, you are keeping up with Facebook’s changes, you have lots of people following you.

Maybe what is needed to educating the followers on how to be a good follower, a good supporter. Because most people are happy to sit back and soak up the info but stay quietly in the background.

No.  That does not work. If you took the time to follow a business or a person, get benefit from their content and enjoy their posts, TELL THEM. What does it really cost you to take a minute to write a post and share?

Social media, especially Facebook is about two-way conversation. No one really wants to feel like they are talking to an empty room. I know we are inundated with information and marketing at the rate of 5,000 messages a day but if you have no intention of engaging, do not join a business page for the sake of it.

When the business page you like (you liked it for a reason) ask a question to prompt discussion, engage, answer the question, ask for more info. Don’t be shy.

Give feedback – keep it nice – if you can’t say something nice, do not say anything at all). Give compliments, share posts and answer questions asked in business groups (if you have the expertise to give the answer)

Ask questions – instead of going to Google, ask the expert you have at your fingertips. There is no such thing as a silly question. Just like there is no such thing as perfection or the right time – just ask.

Share – if a business you are connected with is promoting a local workshop or event, has written a great post or an awesome offer – SHARE it with your networks. Don’t just click share, tag people into the post (to keep them on the business’s page) and write a personal message (it seems less like spam if you take the time to say why you think the post is great). Share it with your networks.

Remember the Law of Reciprocity – chances are you have a business and would like more people to share your awesomeness.  Here’s how it works – if someone does something nice for you, you will have an urge to do something nice in return. You may even reciprocate with a gesture far more generous than the original good deed. I call that a win win.

Being in small business can be a lonely place. It can be a hard slog.  There is so much you need to know and do to get ahead. It is no longer as simple as hanging your shingle out. You have to be an expert at everything. Why don’t we commit to making it easy on each other by supporting each other more? Using each other’s services. Helping to spread the word about each other’s business (the power of PR – third party credibility is priceless).

So next time your friend asks you to buy their {insert product}, say yes. The next time a business you support shares info about {insert event/product} on Facebook, share it.