WHAT’S YOUR “WIIFM” MESSAGE?

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Yes, but what’s in it for me?

By now, most business executives have heard of the “WIIFM” factor. If not, let’s specify that WIIFM is not a radio station; it’s a shortcut for “What’s in it for me” – the secret to all successful marketing.

When a new technology comes out, people aren’t as interested in hearing about the speed, design or internal workings of the product as they are about what it can do for them – how they can use it and how it will make their lives better, easier, or more efficient.

However, too often product marketers forget this, focusing on their product’s features rather than the buyers – their audience – and how it may fulfill their needs.   That’s a formula for failure.

It’s that way with all selling. Whether selling a product or service, it’s essential to consider the audience and how that product or service will benefit them.

Sales professionals know this. They usually spend a considerable amount of time profiling their audience to gauge what their needs are before they launch into a sales pitch. That way they have a better chance of having an attentive audience.

Keeping the WIIFM factor in mind, here are some guidelines for a more successful sales presentation:

  • Do some background research. Find out as much as you can about the person or company who will be the audience for your presentation, to determine their interests and needs.
  • Concentrate on your audience. At your first meeting, ask some questions to see what their current goals are and what challenges they face in achieving them.
  • Present your elevator message. Give a very brief introduction to your company and your product or service.
  • Present the benefits of buying from you. Using what you have learned from your research and conversation, present clearly and concisely the benefits of your product or service to your audience and how it can address their particular needs.

Of course, using the WIIFM factor does not guarantee success, but it can go a long way toward achieving it.

Posted by Margot Dimond

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PR FOR START-UPS

ribbon cuttingMost start-ups need public relations, but few have any idea of what a realistic PR budget would be for their particular business.

Often, they decide to handle PR and marketing themselves. This decision can work out fine, depending on the capabilities of the person handling it, the time he or she has to devote to it, and whether or not there is a clear PR strategy.

Unfortunately, this is often not the case.  Business owners may set up a website, invest in SEO, start a Facebook page and Twitter account, do some advertising and maybe send out a news release or two.  They then bemoan the fact that none of these activities have resulted in any significant business opportunities.

By the time they consult a PR firm, they usually have used up a big chunk of their budget and, frankly, their faith in the value of public relations – both of which make it difficult to plan and implement an effective PR program.

Here are a few suggestions to avoid this merry-go-round:

1.  Check with owners of other small businesses that provide products or services that are similar to yours.  Focus on businesses that have been operating successfully for 3-5 years.  What worked for them?

2.  Ask other new business owners for recommendations of any public relations firms who understand start-ups.

3.  Consult with one or two recommended consultants, but don’t ask for a proposal unless you are seriously planning to hire a firm.  If you just want some strategic advice and ideas, pay the firm for the time they will spend doing that.

4.  Consider hiring a freelance PR person to help you.  Most freelancers have quite a bit of experience before they go out on their own, and their fees are usually quite reasonable.

Why do you need a strategic PR program?  Here’s one reason, courtesy of Wendy Marx, CEO of Marx Communications in Trumbull, CT,  a fellow member of PR Boutiques International.

Posted by Margot Dimond

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Planning: The All-Important PR Tool

plan_ahead_poster-rf50b9d08a292436b9da63b1bfb7bf4eb_w8o_400“Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong” is the only part of Murphy’s Law most people remember, and although the anonymous adage is meant to be humorous, it’s a good guideline to keep in mind when planning any PR project – especially an event.

Expect the unexpected:  promised items that don’t arrive on time, weather that doesn’t cooperate, audio visual breakdowns, last minute requests – all of these and plenty of other things can pop up.  Planning for an event is not the time to be a positive thinker.  Rather, it’s the time to think of everything that could go wrong and plan for every contingency.

This goes for small events, such as ribbon cuttings, open houses or press conferences, to large special events involving thousands of people.  Be prepared and plan ahead should be your bywords.

Tradeshows are in a special category, since most exhibitors are traveling some distance to attend them.  This makes it essential to plan every detail, as is wonderfully related by Katie Creaser in her article, “Going Back to Basics: Tradeshow Must-Haves” on Tech Affect.

In this article, Creaser not only shares some “nightmare” tradeshow scenarios, she also provides an extensive list of “must-haves” for the tradeshow exhibit planner.

Posted by Margot Dimond

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Email Marketing: Does it Work?

News PhotoOften neglected or forgotten, email marketing is the stepchild of the social media world, regularly taking a back seat to The Next Big Thing.  Yet, depending on your business goals, it may be one of the best ways to expand your client base.

Email marketing is “one of the most effective means of communicating your brand identity and generating sales,” according to Michael Beaulieu, group manager for digital media at Wayfair – a U.S.-based multinational e-commerce company – who is quoted in a recent article on Digiday.

At our firm, we have had success with e-news – a more subtle form of email marketing that includes newsletters, news announcements and articles on topics of interest to the people on your email list.  Clients who were initially reluctant to try it have been surprised at the positive feedback they get with this means of communication.

Obviously, it’s just one tool in the PR toolbox, but if your firm is trying to reach a specific market, rather than promote to a broad consumer base, it is a cost-effective way to get your message out.  In addition, by using a professional program, you can see who opens your email and how often they do so.  A regular reader might be someone who is interested in hearing more from you.

So while e-news coming from your company will not replace external media coverage, it does offer distinct benefits:

  • Clarity:  Your message is sent – exactly as you want it worded.
  • Frequency:  You can send emails as often as you have news to impart.
  • Targeted:    You can send directly to the decision-makers who can influence your business.
  • Feedback:  You will know if and when your news is welcome – if your email is opened; if you get new subscribers; or if your subscribers “unsubscribe.”

Some cautionary notes to keep your subscribers interested:

  • Keep the content valuable.  If your email is all puff and no substance, people will stop opening it.
  • Don’t send it too often.  You don’t want to overwhelm your audience to the point that you are a nuisance.
  • Make sure everyone on your list is part of your target audience.  Sending information to the wrong person can put you in a Spam category.
  • Have a recognizable design and layout for your email.    You want to look as professional as you are.

Posted by Margot Dimond

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Mobile Marketing for Your Business

Ever wonder what all those shoppers in the mall are doing on their phones?  They are probably trying to make a purchase and haven’t yet found what they are looking for.  They are checking their phones to see if they can find what they need in a nearby location.

Hang out with a group of smartphone users, and you will see that consumers are increasingly comfortable purchasing on-the-go.  It’s called mobile marketing, and your business could benefit from this cost-effective marketing option.mobile marketing

Think about it:  When you are out shopping for a specific item, that’s when you are most likely to consult your smartphone to find the best place to buy it.  And that’s when a business has the best chance of selling that item to you – that very day!

Max Byer has just posted this collection of mobile marketing statistics on the Business 2 Community website.  Here are a few points that stood out for me.

  • Worldwide, more people own a cell phone than own a toothbrush.
  • More than half of all mobile ads result in a phone call.
  • A mobile unfriendly site will send a majority of customers to a competitor’s site.
  • Half of all smartphone owners have scanned a QR code, with almost one-fifth of the scanners making a purchase.

You can read the entire list here.

Posted by Margot Dimond

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Don’t let this happen to you!

In a recent Twitter campaign, McDonald’s sought to promote the fact that the chain bought fresh produce from farmers.  First came the #MeetTheFarmers hashtag on Twitter; later in the day, the company launched #McDStories to generate positive stories from consumers.  Almost immediately users began tweeting stories about food with worms, food poisoning, and other such appetizing fare.  The large number of negative tweets caused a flurry of press coverage, embarrassing the company.

McDonald’s is not alone in experiencing a social media disaster.  Australia’s Qantas, car-maker Honda, and clothier Kenneth Cole are just a few more examples of corporate social media marketing plans gone awry.

Social media offers a great new venue for widespread exposure – especially for companies selling to consumers.  But it’s a double-edged sword that can also offer an opportunity for widespread embarrassment – as disgruntled employees, disappointed customers or professional gripers vent their frustrations in a very public way.

Understandably, seeing campaigns such as McDonald’s fall apart may make a marketing executive shy away from using social media to promote his company’s products or services.  But this type of unintended consequence can be avoided by remembering two important things:

1.  Have a Strategy.  As with any other public relations/marketing tool, you should know why you are doing the campaign.  Does it advance your brand?  Is it a good fit with your marketing goals?  Does it reach the right people with the right kind of message?  All of these questions should be asked before any campaign – of any type – is launched.

2.  Be an Emergency Manager.  A big part of emergency management takes place before the crisis happens.  Good emergency managers think, “What’s the worst that could happen?”  If there is a good chance your brand could be hijacked and trashed, you may want to try something else.  Even if you can’t think of a worst case scenario, have a crisis plan ready for handling any negative fallout.

Finally, monitor your campaign on a regular basis, so you will know how it’s going, and be ready to spring into action if things go awry.

There are always risks when doing social media marketing, but if well-planned and monitored, it may be well worth it for your company.

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Know Your Audience

If you have a product or service to sell, one of the most important parts of your PR plan should be identifying your audience, understanding them on a professional level, and designing a message that will speak directly to them.

Unfortunately, although virtually all businesses are good at identifying their audience, they may be less skilled at doing the research necessary to understand them.  The company message suffers as a result.

A case in point:  A few years ago, several company executives came into our office to talk about our firm handling their public relations.  The company had a great software product aimed at a specific commercial market, but it was having trouble getting customers.  We identified one of their problems as their company tagline, which was way too edgy for their business audience to take them seriously.  They had come up with it themselves and, needless to say, thought it was very clever.  It was; it just wasn’t audience friendly.

I’ve seen the same sort of thing happen with other types of communication tools.  Most common are logos that are attractive but never relate visually to the company message and company handouts or websites with long dissertations about a product or service with little space devoted to the problems it will solve or the need it will fill.

Keep in mind that if you aren’t attracting the “right kind of clients,” it may be because your company message isn’t reaching them.

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How will your company use social media?

Company social mediaI’m in charge of new business development for our firm, and my son, who does social media for a website design firm, says our company needs to be active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  I’m not so sure.  What do you think?

Social media marketing is a relatively new and exciting development in the world of public relations.  It offers a dynamic set of social networking tools – blogs, microblogs, social bookmarketing, media and content sharing sites – that can be used to promote your business.  What, if any, of these tools you will want to use depends on the kind of company you represent and your overall communication goals.

In a recent survey of its members, PR Boutiques International, an international network of boutique public relations firms, 44 percent of respondents cited the power of social media as the major trend impacting communications in 2012.  However, rather than predicting that social media will be the PR “magic bullet” for all clients, respondents viewed it as a tool that must be strategically integrated into the enterprise’s communication program.  (Full disclosure:  DoubleDimond is a member of PR Boutiques International.)

There are endless creative ways these resources can be used.  Just make sure you use them strategically and assign someone with the responsibility for managing the function.

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