It’s common for a small business to operate for years without PR or marketing, especially in professional services. A lot of entrepreneurs rely on word-of-mouth referrals or traditional sales tactics to generate new business, and that can work just fine for a long time. But if you’re interested in seeing what PR and marketing can do for your business, now is as good a time as any to make an initial investment. Getting started is easy if you follow a few key guidelines.
Establish a goal.
The first step to making a good investment decision in marketing or PR is to articulate why. What is it that you are trying to achieve?
Your answer here doesn’t need to be all-encompassing. But you have to have some baseline. For most people, the answer is ultimately to get more customers and to make more money, but push yourself – is that really what you’re after? Why?
Are you not getting any leads or are you losing them at some point during the proposal process? Are you looking to attract a different kind of customer? Maybe you want to break into a new industry. Or introduce a new service offering. Or diversify your client base. Or rein it in.
Marketing and PR are vast disciplines with seemingly infinite possibilities. By identifying and articulating your goal early, you are creating an important guardrail for your investment and building a framework for measuring its success.
Get help from an expert.
There is no shortage of online tools and courses today to tempt you into DIY marketing. Eight-Minute Ads is the new Eight-Minute Abs. But don’t be fooled. When it comes to marketing and PR, experience matters.
Search for an experienced partner with real experiences that match your expectation. Whether you’re interviewing an agency or a direct hire, it’s important to distinguish between what someone knows and what someone’s done.
In PR, having good “contacts” is nice, but it doesn’t replace experience in developing and executing a successful media campaign. A recent graduate may know a lot of marketing theory, but have they ever had to change direction midcourse without losing time, money or credibility?
Find a partner who can demonstrate experience helping a company achieve a goal similar to yours and then give them autonomy to do it for you and your business.
Set an appropriate budget.
Several years ago, I offered a friend some free PR, but he insisted on paying me. “You get what you pay for,” he said.
There’s nothing wrong with starting small in PR or marketing, as long as you keep your scope and budget in line.
If you’re considering a small investment, narrow your scope to match it. For example, you can pilot your program in a small market or with a highly targeted audience; scale your content marketing to only one channel; or focus on a single practice or service area.
The mistake to avoid is trying to do too much on a shoestring budget, which doesn’t generate a meaningful return on your investment, and can often feel overwhelming to manage.
Marketing and PR are a great way to invest in the future of your business and generate new opportunities for growth. To realize their potential, start off on the right foot. Follow these three simple steps to have a successful first experience and see what marketing and PR can do for you.