28th February 2012

PR and Yachts: Way too much in common

Why is PR like a yacht? Well, boats are like funnels that you pour money into and, from personal experience, it just vanishes. There are always ten things that we want to buy or to fix, and there’s always some shiny new ‘must have’ toy being dangled in front of us!

Let’s look at public relations and what typically happens in most B2B businesses.

What typically happens when we decide to hire a PR firm is that we go out and we ask people who they’ve used and who they think is good. We do our homework and ideally get a couple of quotes. Then the PR firm that gets the Guernsey goes out and starts work.

But then typically not much seems to happen except you writing cheques. If you’re lucky and your story is particularly interesting you might get two or three stories published in the media.

Here’s my story.  I hired a PR firm and had over 50 stories published about my first book, Get Great People. But I spent a lot of money, in fact over $25,000 on that PR campaign—and I reckon it lead to sales of no more than an extra 400 books that I wouldn’t have sold without it. Now that netted me a grand profit of approximately $4,000. Or is—that a loss of $24,500 given I had spent $28,500 on the PR campaign!

So I spent a lot more than the typical SME would spend, and I certainly spent a lot more than I could afford at the time given the results. We all then tend to blame the person of the particular firm we were working with and that is simply wrong. The reason why most PR doesn’t work is because typically we haven’t defined the niche that we are most trying to reach, our  A Class or Gold clients.  And then what does the niche do when they see the story!?

Well the answer is very little, unless you have an integrated direct marketing strategy. One that leads the reader, viewer or listener to some of your material to help educate them. And at the same time captures their contact details so you can market to them—very little happens without such a strategy.

In fact, PR, the way it is traditionally done, is purely for large corporation that want to build a powerful brand or a powerful image. SMEs simply cannot afford traditional, high cost public relations.

At Lead Creation, we have a better approach to PR—one that uses direct marketing. Go to Lead Generation to learn more.

The problem with small services businesses in particular, is that they think that their product is a niche. It’s not! At least it’s not in the only sense that matters—in the marketing sense.

So without a niche, PR is a waste of time and money. Most services businesses don’t have a niche, they have a product which admittedly can be a very narrowly-defined product (or service) but it remains a product.

So for example, a business might just do Mystery Shopping. Now that’s a very specialised type of market research, but again it’s a service not a niche. A real niche might be doing mystery shopping just for fast food outlets. That would enable you to create a service with real specialist value in a large sector.

Another example would be sales training, a service which almost any company or business in Australia could purchase—we all need more sales training. But is it a niche? Well sales training just for fast food outlets might be. Or perhaps narrowing it down to commission sales training just for women in real estate. That’s starting to sound like a niche. And a very big niche that is begging to be mined.

Why is it so important to have a niche when it comes to Lead Generation? There are two fundamental reasons:

1. You can reach a niche. Niche members tend to hang out in the same ‘places’—they read certain magazines, are members of similar industry associations, go to certain websites, belong to certain clubs, etcetera.

2. If you specialise you can charge more. A good analogy is specialists doctors versus GPs. Specialists are positioned as the experts, they focus on a niche and they charge significantly more fees. A b2B business that specialises can charge a premium price because they are seen, and are rightly seen, to be the experts in that narrow niche.

For example, our niche for our outbound marketing is B2B. The main sector is technology companies—a large, and diversified, and growing niche.

Get a niche, and generating lots of B2B sales leads is possible. And then the real work begins!

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About Toby Marshall

Creating Customer Communities for companies selling B2B is my passion—shortening their sales cycle and building market leadership. My role sets the direction and vision of Lead Creation, tapping into the online experience of our large team of young professionals to implement cost effective strategies for B2B businesses.

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