Definition of Security: Small Business Owner
Yes, that IS security when nobody can downsize you because you OWN that small business of yours! But preserving that special advantage is a never-ending job. In fact, do you know what needs to be preserved more than anything else?
Well, since they hold the future of your business in their hands, I believe that an outside group of people whose behaviors can effect your business' survival more than any other, deserves your rapt attention.
What I'd like you to conclude from that is, what your key target audiences think about you can take you down in a New York minute!
* customers displeased with your product or service don't come back
* prospects who don't know about you don't buy
* employees who believe you don't care about them lean on their oars
* when minority folks believe you discriminate, you have new problems
* and if community residents believe your business is a lousy place to work, you have hiring and retention problems.
Even though help is on the way, you can't work on everything at once, so prioritize those key audiences. That is, which external audience is of immediate concern?
The good news is that problems like those above just don't happen when you closely and regularly monitor what those "key publics" think about you. First, you find ways to interactwith them.
Then probe what they think about you and the business. Inwhat behaviors are they engaging? What about misunderstandings?Do you see any problems brewing?
When you take the trouble to stay in touch with those folks whose behaviors affect your business the most, you've taken an important first step towards preserving your business.
There's a real sequence here. Once you gather those facts from monitoring your key, target audience, it becomes obvious what your problem is and, thus, the public relations goal. For example, correct that misconception about your product; or reinforce a budding perception that you deliver superior service; or correct a suspicion that you don't put women in positions of responsibility.
With your goal in-hand, how are you going to achieve it?You need a strategy which, in public relations, only comes in three flavors: create opinion (perception) where none may exist; change existing opinion, or reinforce it.
So, you've set your public relations goal AND a very doable strategy. Now, what must your message say to implement that strategy? It must address the "fix" you decided upon when you set the goal. It must be clear, specific, persuasive and, above all, believable. As you write it, remain sensitive to what you are trying to do: change somebody's perception which almost always leads to the change in behavior you really want. Does your message meet this challenge?
Many would now find themselves with a great goal, a super strategy and a first class message, and nowhere to go.
But not you. Here, you select the "beasts of burden" you need to carry that message to the eyes and ears of those members of your key, target audience whom you need to reach and move to action.
And that means communications tactics. There are more available to you than we have time or space to list. Among them: community briefings, seminars, special events, news releases, speeches, brochures and personal contacts.
Is your work completed? Nope, because how will you track your progress? The answer is, Round 2 of the monitoring job. Interact with members of your prime outside audience all over again, carefully evaluating what you hear. If the goal was "correct a misconception," are you beginning to notice signs of that correction? Do those you talk to show, however little, a better understanding of the facts of the matter as represented in your message?
What's the bottom line? Behaviors, of course.
When your messages and communications tactics combine to alter a questionable perception held by members of your key, target audience, certain behaviors will soon follow. Among them, favorable mentions in the media and in individual speeches and lectures; increased patronage for your business; "corrected" perceptions by influential members of that important group of people, and many other similar signs that your message and your communications tactics have, indeed, "drawn blood."
Happily, what that adds up to is a successful public relations effort.
Please feel free to publish this article and resource box in your ezine, newsletter, offline publication or website. A copy would be appreciated at bobkelly@TNI.net.
Robert A. Kelly © 2005.
Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to business, non-profit and association managers about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. He holds a bachelor of science degree from Columbia University, major in public relations.
How to Profile a Client
At first glance, this topic may seem a little repetitive, but you will find that although you have done homework before getting a contract and already know a fair amount about your client, you, however, do not know everything that is pertinent to the job. Once you have the project underway you will be adding to your knowledge of the client. In other words, you will be getting to know them more intimately than before. The information you had at the beginning is what the organization allowed you and the public in general to know. Now you are in a position to increase that knowledge and add to the client profile. This information will take time to accumulate as not all will present itself right at the beginning of the project. It is through your performance that it will surface.
Local Search and Internet Yellow Pages - A Whole NewVocabulary for Small Businesss
Buyers want both online and local information about where to buy Most small businesses are local in nature, serving people who live nearby. Their customers found them through traditional methods like the Yellow Pages or newspaper ads. So far, the Internet hasn't figured prominently in their marketing efforts. That's about to change, as Local Search methods become more widespread. Even for buyers expecting to spend their money close to home, more and more of them go to the Internet to locate desired products and services. They rely on search engines to find suitable vendors in the fastest, easiest way. Local Search combines the search query word or phrase with specific geographic terms, like city or zip code. That way, search results only include enterprises in that local area. Instead of information about a small enterprise being lost among millions of pages of search results, it shows up in a small pool of local providers. That's good for them, as well as the person looking for what they provide. Small operations can easily be located by a whole new group of buyers Consumers don't simply go to the Yellow Pages when ready to buy - as they once did. Studies show that an astonishing 36% of online searches are conducted to find local businesses. About a quarter of all Internet users already conduct local searches. They'd do even more of it, if the desired small business data were more complete. Local enterprises need to prepare for the impact of changing customer habits. An easy first step is to include your business in Internet Yellow Pages (IYP), along with the printed Yellow Page directory. That puts your enterprise on the radar screen. Learn how your business can make the most of Local Search by visiting http://www.yellowpagesage.com. You'll find reliable advice from experts in Yellow Pages and Local Search so you can get more mileage from your promotional dollars. Start by getting comfortable with search concepts, and improve your odds of being found when people search online for what you offer. You don't even need your own Web site to benefit from Internet Yellow Pages and Local Search. Learn the Relevant Terms Search Engine - method for locating the information available on the Internet; a program that searches Web pages for requested keywords, then returns a list of documents where the query terms were found Google and Yahoo, the major general search engines, have both shifted gears to make Local Search a priority when delivering relevant results. Spider (also called "crawler" or "bot") - goes to every page on every Web site and reads the information so it can be available to searchers; to "crawl" a site it collects and indexes information from it Specialized Search Engines - narrow focus of information crawled and indexed, like medical, business, or shopping sites Keywords - word or phrases used by search engines to locate relevant Web pages; words chosen to improve a site's search engine placement and ranking Search Query - search request, which the search engine compares to the spidered entries, then returns results to the searcher Search Results - compiled list of Web pages that a search engine delivers in response to a query; the number of items returned is usually overwhelming (in the millions), so searchers only bother to view results on the first pages Relevant Results - the test of a good search is whether the results obtained relate to what the person wanted to find, without a lot of irrelevant links Local Search - combining a geographic term in a search query to locate suitable providers in a specific area Pay per Click (PPC) - method of building traffic whereby site owners bid on search terms (keywords) that link to their site Geographic Terms - specific information about the local area that can be included in a local search: zip code, town, county, geographic region, state Top Ranking - sites shown on the first page(s) of search results Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - fine-tuning keywords and page content so the Web site rates high in search engine results Tags and Titles (on Web Pages) - provide site keywords and information to search engine spiders for indexing a site Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) - directory of business phone numbers and locations in a geographic area, organized by category; searchable data base accessed on the Internet Make your business easy for searchers to find The public is embracing the convenience of searching on the Internet to find information about local businesses. However, their searches for desired information are compromised because so many local enterprises don't show up in the databases as yet. Those that do have an edge in their local market. Climb aboard! Make sure searchers can find you. For little or no money, you can expose your enterprise to the whole world. Whether or not your business has a Web site, you need to provide the information people are looking for in the places that they look for it. Local Search and Internet Yellow Pages open new avenues to buyers ready to spend. Best of all, they support and compliment your traditional methods of finding new business. So you cover all your bases. (c)2004, Lynella Grant
Business Owners - Do You Actually Own a Job?
How many hours do you work a week? When was the last time you took an uninterrupted holiday? Do your staff have a better job than you? Now ask yourself, Do I Own a Business or a Job- with Overheads? Are you happy about the answers to these questions? If not, read on.
Pressure Washing at Golf Courses
There are many potential niches for pressure washing companies that often go unchecked. Some are quite lucrative and are worth investigation if you own a pressure washing business. One such niche is the pressure washing of golf courses, clubs houses, golf carts and facilities. To target this specialization of services you will need to slightly modify your sales approach.
A Business Tail: Veterinarian Foams at Mouth, Chases Tail, Learns New Tricks--Case Study
Many self employed professionals find themselves overwhelmed, frustrated, and confused when it comes to running their businesses. The deep skills they have in their professional field do little to prepare them for the dog-eat-dog world of running a business. The following is a case study from the client files of small business expert, Caroline Jordan, detailing a typical professional's experience trying to run a business without foaming at the mouth.
Franchising and Royalty Payments
If you are thinking of turning your current into a franchising company you will need to determine a fair and equitable franchise royalty fee. There are a number of questions you will need to ask yourself in determining this fee such as what services you will provide to your franchisee team and what that will cost. You will also need to take a look at the competition to determine the amount that you can honestly charge without forgoing cost conscious franchise buyers.
Top 7 Small Business Resources for 2005
If you want to start a business in 2005, and start making money almost immediately, the sites listed below are some of the best I have found. I've chosen each site because it is absolutely outstanding in providing the tools you need to get started, as well as taking you through the steps you need to get started immediately.
Five Break-through Ideas to Immediately Increase Profits and Improve Cash Flow
Too often in business we get trapped into reviewing our sales numbers without analyzing the all important "profit" number. This is commonly referred to as the "bottom-line" of a business. There are various ways you can dramatically impact your profitability.
Employee Email and Internet Use - A Small Business Guide
Is Your Small Business Name Important?
You bet a name is important. Many small business owners try to come up with a clever name for their business rather than one that explains what they do. And, nine times out of ten, that is a mistake. Your business name should give your prospects some idea of what your business is about.
Small Business Marketing Secrets: Look Like Sizzle, Be The Steak
You've heard marketing and advertising gurus quip, "Sell the sizzle, not the steak." Advertising initiatives best reach their target audience with benefits and the "wow" effect, not the value or features of their product or service. This may work well to get customers in the door. But once they're in, you better have some substance. How can you ensure you uphold the integrity of your business and still maintain the "Wow Effect"? It just takes well executed strategic steps for business AND personal development:
The Wrap on Ag Plastic
While driving through Pennsylvania farmland, you have probably noticed an increased amount of white plastic bundles stacked in lines or piles along farm buildings or edges of farm fields. Sometimes referred to as "marshmallows" or "long white tubes", etc. these objects are increasing in farmer popularity and represent a changing trend in harvesting of farm livestock feeds.
Self-Employment: Managing Your Money: Tips for Living with a Fluctuating Cash Flow (Part One)
The way you manage your money is one of the first things you'll change when you move from employment to self-employment.
Finding the PERFECT Alliance Partner
Where do you look for the appropriate alliance?
Effective Customer Interviews Make Life Much Easier!
One of the critical success factors for service-related businesses is our ability to understand a client's needs and requirements. Misunderstandings can lead to loss of repeat business, economic loss, and damage to reputation.
1 Overlooked Key to Small Business Success
Is this you?
Tracking Revenue For MORE Profits
The revenue history is a vital piece of your power page and you need to record that information. Keeping track of client revenues should not be done in a paper format, it should be recorded electronically. It is too easy to make mistakes when calculating by hand, the results of the data entry can then be recorded into your power page. You need to date these numbers as they can change quite rapidly and you will want to know if there is a growth pattern. You will also be aware of diminishing returns and flat areas. Familiarize yourself with how they report earnings because each company has their own unique way of presenting the information to the public or its employees. You are probably asking yourself why you would bother tracking financial earnings of a company you are doing business with, or even one that is not yet a client. Believe it or not, financial information gives hints as to the success of the sales force, the marketing efforts, and the leadership of the executives. The financials can paint a picture that says more than what you are being told. If you still do not believe me, read through the next example.
Mobile Car Washes and Shoe Policies
Mobile carwashing is hard work, it is tough on the your body and it pays to have athletic type shoes that do not get wet easily. Sometimes rapid pace car washing in parking lots can be a lot like playing basketball, except you are on a slippery and uneven surface. Here is some advice after 27 years in the business of twisted ankles and soggy socks.
How To Get Slightly Famous in Print
Early in my career, I wrote an article for a small business magazine about self-publishing as a marketing tool for businesses. Because I specialize in helping businesses get into print, the article only took a few hours to write. A few months later it was published. Almost immediately, my phone began to ring and my email box filled up with inquires.
To Buy Or Not To Buy: Lawn Mowing Business
TRUTH IN THE LAWN MOWING INDUSTRY
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