PR Briefing: How to make a big splash on a small budget
Marketing is big business, with many companies spending significant amounts of money to make a splash: big-budget commercials, huge buzz-worthy promotions, slick direct-mail campaigns and major media interviews. But maybe you’re a small company and can’t afford to make a big splash. Heck, you can barely afford a dribble. Now what? Marketing is critical for companies of all sizes and budgets. Implementing marketing initiatives is critical if you want to attract new customers. And, even though you’re small, you need to compete with the big guys. My company falls under the category of small, and our budget doesn’t permit us to stage huge stunts, like Jordan Furniture’s inspired promotion promising free furniture if the Red Sox won the World Series. However, we have created successful marketing strategies that maximize our visibility among key audiences, while staying within our budget. Just like any company being savvy in its marketing, we rely on an integrated marketing approach, using “surround sound” tactics with public relations, promotions and advertising to deliver strategic messages to specific demographics. By using multiple channels echoing common messaging, we can effectively reach our company’s target audiences. We promote our company’s achievements and serve as a resource for the press. We highlight our expertise to key audiences, speaking about marketing topics to business groups - a place where our target audience is present and listening. And we attend business events to network and meet potential business prospects. We have a limited advertising budget, so we carefully place advertisements in media that most effectively reach our target demographics. If that advertising is working and we’re getting business attributable to our ads, we keep it going. We’re involved in our community, volunteering for causes that we believe in. We distribute a marketing e-newsletter to a wide array of professional contacts. I’ve often counseled small-business owners that their job is to run their company and to manage their brand. Many small-business owners recognize that they need to implement a marketing plan, but they may not believe they have the budget to hire a marketing agency to make it happen. My advice is to determine what you’ll take on, to know when to get help and to set a realistic budget. For example, if you’re launching a new product line but don’t have an extensive national and international reporter network, hire a PR professional who does. When you decide to hire professionals, interview people from different firms, ask for proposals outlining their recommendations and request a budget breakdown. Ask how long it will take to complete the project, what they’ll need from you, and how they’ll deliver the finished product. It also helps your budget if you determine what you want before you sit down with a consultant. Suppose you’re hiring a graphic designer to create your company’s new Web site. You’ll save money if you provide clear instructions that will be less expensive than if you were vague. Multiple rounds of edits will cost you money, just like if you told your accountant that you found additional documents for her review when she was midway through your tax preparation. Even if your budget is limited, your marketing efforts shouldn’t be. The right marketing partner will be able to maximize your budget and help your company make a big splash. Laurie J. Storey-Manseau owns StoreyManseau LLC, a Concord-based full-service marketing firm. She can be reached at 603-229-0278 or Laurie@StoreyManseau.com.