Two-Way Street

PR, social media, events and incentives – Collaboration & communication ideas for demanding businesses from The Castle Group's Mark O'Toole

The Simple Things

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 3, 2009

A colleague recently said, “In difficult times, there are those who cry, and there are those who sell handkerchiefs.” While some of our clients are scaling back in 2009, some are staying the course, others are increasing their budgets, and still others are shifting marketing tactics due to changing goals. Regardless of how your company is faring right now, every company needs to take a hard look at expenses. Yet even if you’re downsizing, there are straightforward marketing recommendations to consider: 

1. Long lead times. 
The efforts you put forth today can yield significant results six months from now. If your product needs to be featured in monthly magazines during the spring or summer, you have to make it happen now. The news and event cycle will pass you by if you ignore long-lead opportunities.
2. PR is not a one-shot deal. 
PR works best when there are both long- and short-term corporate goals included in the program. We once had a client that ended his contract with us because we “did such a great job getting the company visibility” that he “didn’t need us anymore.” Guess what? The visibility ebbed away and he came back.
3. Good news is suddenly news. 
If you communicate momentum, your targets will see momentum. I just read a news brief about a company that secured $1 million in financing. A number that low would never have hit the press last year. Further, one of our clients recently hired 12 people and had two banks vying to offer them a significant line of credit. That certainly wouldn’t have been newsworthy a year ago, but it is today. 
3. Leaner times can create internal opportunities. 
If business is slow, you may have talented staff who can be redeployed to support marketing objectives: a salesperson with the soul of a writer or an IT person with a creative flair who can improve your website or collateral.  
4. Bring your audience to you. 
Think about your office or retail space. Can you create opportunities — seminars, roundtable discussions, networking events — in your office and invite colleagues, customers and prospects? Face-to-face communications can still be the best marketing tool there is.
5. Get out…do more.
Go to networking events and conferences. Leverage your memberships beyond event attendance; meet with association executives to see whether you might be able to be an event speaker or moderator. You’ll get visibility through the sponsoring organization AND have opportunity for that face-to-face at the same time.
6. Consider your assets.
Do you have a creative presentation that can be repurposed for your website, as a bylined article, and as a speaker abstract? Take inventory of the marketing materials that already exist and creatively leverage them to create new opportunities.
7. Partner wisely.
Consider a marketing co-opportunity (event sponsorship, co-authored op-ed, online promotion) with a non-competing organization that targets similar audiences. You can leverage your marketing dollars by sharing resources and achieving a similar goal together.
8. Review your online presence.
This is a good time to make the most of your image online.  Make sure you’re maximizing SEO opportunities, posting new materials to your site, participating in online groups through sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, Twittering and blogging. All free, and all marketing. 
Be the company that’s making the most of this downturn. To revisit the saying referenced earlier, sell handkerchiefs. B2B and consumer demand still exists — the winners will be those that best continue to meet those demands. If you can afford to maintain or increase your visibility, your handkerchiefs will look pretty good amongst all those tears. 

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