In parts 1 and 2 of this series, we looked at why crisis communications is important and how to prepare before the storm. In part 3, we’ll take a closer look at how to respond to a crisis through your public relations efforts.
With a plan in place, you are prepared to quickly respond to the storm. PR pros say your immediate response should include the following: gathering facts, alerting and deploying the crisis response team, acknowledging the situation with 24 hours, cooperating with the media, assessing legal liability, reaching out to target audiences, and monitoring media coverage.
You will have several potential audiences to consider, including the victim, if any, the media, your employees and their families, clients, and other stakeholders. Read more... top ▲
Is your small business advertising online? And, if so, are you tapping into local search? That could be the missing ingredient to a more successful Internet marketing campaign.
A new study from the Local Search Association found that consumers use Yellow Pages and search engines most to find local businesses, outpacing other local media including social networks, magazines, newspapers, and promotional circulars and e-mails.
“Local media trends give small businesses a good sense of where they should invest their limited advertising budgets,” says Neg Norton, president of the Local Search Association. “We recommend an integrated approach that incorporates print and Internet solutions to reach local consumers.”
Eighty-four percent of survey respondents used either print or Internet Yellow Pages to find a local business in the last year and 76 percent used a search engine. What does that mean for your small business? You may need to explore new marketing strategies that reach consumers where they search, whether it’s in the print Yellow Pages, search engines or other local media. Read more... top ▲
Designers can cost your small business a small fortune—but, then again, they don’t have to.
I’ve been blessed with several good friends who are designers, so I get a steal on services. Sometimes I even trade writing services for design services with them. Most people aren’t so lucky, but you can get lucky by tapping into design contest sites where designers compete to offer up the best logo, brochure, or whatever else you need designed.
One of those sites is DesignContest.com. The site just added some functions and features to meet the demand of small businesses that need high quality design at a price they can afford.
Here’s how it works: DesignContest pre-screens designers for an understanding of design basics—including file types, copyright laws, and design ethics—before they are allowed to compete for your project. When you go to the site, you start a contest with your parameters. Designers will enter to win your business by posting design concepts. Once you find one you like, you choose the winner and have the job completed. Read more... top ▲
Trust. It’s vital in every type of relationship, from friends to family to small business. When you establish trust with your customers you can make more sales, create stronger relationships, and wind up with a healthier bottom line. It’s not a new concept, but it’s one that deserves a renewed focus as the economy recovers.
“Trust is not a soft skill. Trust really affects the bottom line. Look at Tiger Woods who lost millions of dollars in endorsements when he lost public confidence. Trust is the competitive advantage you gain when others believe in you,” says David Horsager, author of The Trust Edge.
“People pay more for a trusted brand. They come back and tell others. People follow the trusted leader and buy from the trusted salesperson. Trust affects the bottom line more than anything. In fact, a lack of trust is your biggest expense—and you don’t even know it.” Read more... top ▲
Social media marketing is officially a top contending small business marketing tool. A whopping 73 percent of small businesses are using social media to market their business—and usage is trending upwards. So says a new study from Constant Contact.
What’s up with the 27 percent of small businesses that aren’t using social media to market their businesses? Well, they are beginning to open their eyes to these tools as well. Specifically, 62 percent expect to start using social media marketing in the coming year. What’s more, 81 percent of small businesses that are already using social media marketing plan to use it even more this year than they did last year.
“The value proposition that social media marketing offers to small business makes it a no brainer for time- and resource-starved small businesses. They simply need coaching and know-how to use those tools in the best way possible,” says Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact. “Our assessment of this data is that more education will only improve small businesses’ results with social media marketing.” Read more... top ▲
With millions blogs, podcast feeds and new folks singing on to the Web every day, at least part of marketing’s present and future is online.
Internet-based media could overtake newspapers and radio as the prime information sources for consumers, especially with technologies like streaming radio and Internet Protocol Television that broadcasts videos online, according to Brendan Kownacki, an Interactive Media Specialist with Live Wire Media Relations, LLC, a public relations firm in Alexandria, Va.
“The power of the Internet has expanded beyond what many could have ever imagined and has opened limitless doors for most industries in the world, including media relations,” Kownacki says. “The ability to reach millions of people around the globe with a message in a matter of seconds has changed the face of the media, and public relations world along with it.” Read more... top ▲
Color is vital to branding and not just any color will do. The language of color is vast, with deep meanings that speak to the subconscious of consumers.
“The color needs to connect the product’s usage to its audience,” says Barry Ridge, CMG, Creative Director at Barry Ridge Graphic Design in Camarillo, California. “If you are marketing power tools to an adult male audience, and you product them in lavenders and pinks, you probably won’t sell many.”
Ridge continues the power tool analogy by pointing to major name brands. If you go to Home Depot today and walk down the power tools aisle, you will discover that all the major companies have claimed their own branding color. Milwaukee Tool is red. DeWalt is yellow. Black & Decker is deep blue-green. Any new entrant that tried to claim one of those colors would have a hard time because it is connected with a brand. In the self-storage industry, everyone is familiar with Public Storage’s orange doors. Read more... top ▲
Whether you’ve tried Groupon and didn’t like it or are just looking for a less costly expensive to the daily deals site, you might want to check out ShareItUp. The new coupons aim directly at the heart of small businesses and it’s free.
Launched by PeopleString, the free social coupon platform for small businesses offers what the company calls ShareItup coupons. Although the name didn’t immediately turn my head in a market dominated by Groupon and Living Social—and even Facebook Deals—once I understood the concept the name made perfect sense.
“PeopleDeals now offers businesses the level of service they need to build their social marketing initiatives,” says Darin Myman, president and CEO of PeopleString. “Additionally, our service creates almost a micro group buying platform for businesses who have lower cost goods and services that would not lend themselves to the more traditional group buying platforms.” Read more... top ▲
Have you ever looked at small business branding from a farmer’s perspective?
That’s how Tom Varjan, a business marketing consultant in Vancouver, Canada, looks at it. Although a brand may include a logo, shapes and colors, he believes a brand is about a process that connects with the target market in a way that increases the brand’s chances of getting the customer to buy its products or services again and again. Branding’s goal, then, is to create customer loyalty.
“A cattle farmer has two options. He can work with an expensive designer to develop the world’s fanciest branding iron with fancy shapes, gold-plated titanium handle and ergonomic hand grip, which takes his attention away from growing top-notch cattle and producing top-notch beef,” he explains. “Or he can go to the local blacksmith and have a branding iron made with a simple emblem that differentiates his cattle from others’ cattle.” Read more... top ▲
If your brand is a promise you make, then the customer experience is the fulfillment of that promise. So says Scott Glatstein, President of Imperatives, LLC, a marketing consultancy in Minnetonka, Minnesota
Customers encounter your brand in numerous ways, including products, price, advertising and marketing, sales and customer service personnel. Glatstein argues that each of these contacts, or touch points, molds the customer’s impression of the brand. Customer service is where the brand promise is executed.
“Some of these touch points are obvious, like product performance, advertising, and sales staff. Other touch points, like billing practices, may be subtler in its brand affects. The organization must design a holistic customer experience that aligns with the brand promise,” Glatstein says.
The key to activating brand strategies is taking “what” an organization wants to do and defining “how” it is going to do it. Activating a brand, he says, ensures that every employee drives the promises made to the marketplace across every customer touch point every day. Read more... top ▲