“We’ve never done any marketing in our business, and depend on word of mouth,” said a young entrepreneur complaining about how his business had taken a downturn. “A few years ago, we were doing fine, but now, the phone never rings,” he continued. This small business owner was considering working with a marketing and PR firm to stir up some new business for his 3-year-old company. “We have a website, but that’s it,” he offered. In addition to the site, they had a small print ad in the local Yellow Pages. Who lets their fingers do the walking anymore, when Google is so handy? Clearly, this company needed to get their business up to speed in order to compete and get noticed.
First off, they needed to have their website (essentially a business card) overhauled to be able to reach the market. They needed to get their company listed in all the appropriate online directories. They needed to cultivate an ongoing social media program, and perhaps create a direct mail campaign, down the road. “We were on Facebook for a bit, but we can’t be bothered with that,” he said. Oh, but his competition is all over Facebook, Twitter and is quite active on Linked In, too. Hmmmmmm. “Well, if we do all of that stuff, how soon will business come in?” he asked. Truthfully, it’s hard to say.
There are no guarantees in marketing and PR. Aside from what your “hired marketing guns” try to accomplish, the business owner has to become involved, as well. Will you get out into the marketplace and shake hands, join business groups, become active in the community, and network with those who might need your services? “Yeah, if I do all that, when will business get better?” Again, that’s hard to say. But I can honestly say that if you do what you have been doing … you will get exactly what you have now: No new business.
In many respects the business owner is like a gardener, tending to his business on a daily basis in hopes it will flourish and prosper. Marketing and PR are the tools that plant the seeds of success, as does having a consistent advertising campaign. It’s understandable that the business owner is anxious to make money and stay afloat, but if he or she isn’t prepared to do what’s needed to cultivate the “soil,” there won’t be any new growth … ever.