A twelve-part blog series outlining how to save, turnaround, and grow, your struggling or failing professional client service consultancy, architects practice, design studio, marketing communications (marcomms), PR, digital or creative agency business.
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Total Business Turnaround
Part 10 | Marketing and PR
Marketing and Public Relations are not merely outward facing disciplines. They should also be internally focused. The reality of the outside world is often a reflection of your inside world. This is the same in business; keep your employees, managers, shareholders fully informed and engaged with your mission and the good work you are all doing.
Doing this makes communicating with the outside world much easier because you’ve now got an army of people representing the business, not just a select few.
Seize the PR Opportunity
If you’ve taken the time to explore the longer term vision and plan for your business, even when it feels as if everything is collapsing in on you it will be clear that there is an opportunity to communicate this vision as the reason for the restructure.
You have the chance to change your business and how it is perceived by your clients, competitors, suppliers and employees and, indeed, by you—and all for the better. By telling your story, including your renewed vision for your business, you can eliminate rumours and quell the doubts lingering in the minds of your staff and clients.
Redefining Your Business
Going through a business turnaround and restructure process is your chance to take advantage of the market from a much stronger position than you had before. However, you must redefine how you conduct your business and what your business does from now on. It’s said that the best way to learn is actually to teach, you must know your material in order to teach.
One of the best ways in business to instigate change is to lead from the front and communicate to the outside world how you want your new business to look and be perceived by your clients, suppliers and employees.
Marketing Material Preparation
The marketing collateral you prepare is a very important part of the process of communicating your new business, products and services to all concerned and must be planned-for accordingly. You’re going to need to ensure you have a way of printing and delivering this new marketing material ahead of entering a restructuring process and having a pre-arranged payment deal to pay for thus material is critical to prevent you from having any downtime with your campaigns when you can least afford it.
Before entering new markets, whether locally or internationally, you should learn about your target markets. The business intelligence you will generate from this market research will be invaluable. Obtaining as much structured information so you can in order to plan your campaign thoroughly before expending time and money will give you the best chance of success. The initial market research should identify:
Agents and intermediaries
You need to focus on maintaining a healthy business and one of the keys to this is ensuring that communication internally and externally is regular, timely and meaningful, conveying some value to the client. Make sure you actually deliver the communication when you said you would. If you say you’re going to send out a newsletter every month, you’d better do it.
The client expects it. The benefit of maintaining consistent communication is that it builds trust. Subconsciously, your client will begin to view your company as reliable and consistent. They will recognise that you have something to say and contribute, and will keep you in the forefront of their minds for any upcoming projects or opportunities.
Continuity – Encourage Repeat Business
It costs more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one, while repeat business means attracting more revenue based on the original marketing and new business budget. The best way to ensure you have repeat business is to continually and consistently communicate with your existing clients and customers.
You must continue to give your existing network value, even when they aren’t paying for it directly. Don’t reserve your free offers or your speculative work just for attracting new customers and clients. Strive to keep updated with your clients concerns and issues.
Don’t leave it to them to tell you exactly what their problems are or may be, dig into their business and uncover future problems for them and let them know that you are equipped and have the experience to solve them.
Dealing with the Press
The best thing to do with the press is to get them on your side! A friendly journalist can be a lifesaver as you finish your restructure and step into a more profitable future. Just be careful because they will probably want more detail than you’re willing to give.
Of course, if you think you don’t have a story or an angle that might be interesting to the press, then review the changes you’ve made over the last few months during your restructure. How you’ve adapted and changed is a story in itself.
In difficult market conditions, stories of how businesses have adapted to new scenarios are of great interest to the press because they attract readers with useful and timely information and expose them to advertising.
Your PR and Marketing Campaign
The key to any marketing and new business campaign is having a good plan, implementing it, measuring it, improving and refining it and rolling the new version out again. This process is summed up in the acronym AIDA(S), which is used in marketing to describe a common list of events that are very often undergone when a person is selling a product or service:
A – Attention
Attract the attention of the customer.
I – Interest
Raise customer interest by focusing on and demonstrating advantages and benefits, rather than features, as in traditional advertising).
D – Desire
Convince customers that they desire the product or service and that it will satisfy their needs.
A – Action
Lead customers towards taking action and/or purchasing.
S – Satisfaction
Satisfy the customer so they become a repeat customer and give referrals to a product.