Archive | May, 2009

6 Ways to Drive Communications

12 May
If I were running your communications program, I would: 
1. Sync up the message. If everyone in your company is out there with their own message, they might as well be working for themselves.  When the core message is synched up across all communications and everyone knows it, those individuals become a team, and magnify the power of each interaction. 
2. Act like media. The company has people and communities to meet, reach and influence, every day. How will we do that? Where? When? In many cases, the website can be a central hub for communications that engage the market through site features, blogs, newsletters, video/audio, and RSS.  
3. Listen…and share.  When I was a young intern at a Fortune 500 company, the PR department did a daily news roundup on paper that went across the executive ranks. There are more media and conversations to watch, but tracking it is easier than ever — but the task is being left to individuals.  Mix up news alerts, RSS feeds, email and website, and you’re there — or pay a modest fee for a media/social media tracking service.
4. Listen…and share part 2 — web analytics. While SEO is front and center in the mind of marketing, web analytics seems to be far less so — at least in the B2B world where I spend most of my time.  I’d want to know what’s being seen on the website, who’s using it, and how marketing and communications tactics impact web traffic and, where possible, leads. And I’d share the data. 
5. Audit and adapt. What’s working? What’s not? What does everyone say “we really should be doing” but we’re not? If strategies and tactics are working, we keep them strong. If they aren’t, they should be phased out, and replaced with what we really should be doing.  
6. Measure, but don’t be ruled by measurement. Anecdotes can be effective. The press release that generated a lead that led to a big sale may never have generated single clip or pushed more than a dozen people to the website, but it worked. The article linked on an obscure blog that caught the eye of the guy the VP sat next to on the airplane and turned into marketing partnership was a blip on the radar…but it worked. Listen to the people on the front lines — in sales, business development, and service.  Collect statistics and anecdotes. 

As a communications consultant, I often talk to clients about strategy, but don’t often have the chance to help them “start fresh”.  So I thought I’d share this — six principles that I would advocate when running the communications function. 

1. Sync up the message. If everyone in your company is out there with their own message, they might as well be working for themselves.  When the core message is synced up across all communications and everyone knows it, those individuals become a team, and magnify the power of each interaction. 

2. Act like media. The company has people and communities to meet, reach and influence, every day. How will we do that? Where? When? In many cases, the website can be a central hub for communications that engage the market through site features, blogs, newsletters, video/audio, and RSS.  

3. Listen…and share.  When I was a young intern at a Fortune 500 company, the PR department did a daily news roundup on paper that went across the executive ranks. There are more media and conversations to watch, but tracking it is easier than ever — but the task is being left to individuals.  Mix up news alerts, RSS feeds, email and website, and you’re there — or pay a modest fee for a media/social media tracking service.

4. Listen…and share part 2 — web analytics. While SEO is front and center in the mind of marketing, web analytics seems to be far less so — at least in the B2B world where I spend most of my time.  I’d want to know what’s being seen on the website, who’s using it, and how marketing and communications tactics impact web traffic and, where possible, leads. And I’d share the data. 

5. Audit and adapt. What’s working? What’s not? What does everyone say “we really should be doing” but we’re not? If strategies and tactics are working, we keep them strong. If they aren’t, they should be phased out, and replaced with what we really should be doing.  

6. Measure, but don’t be ruled by measurement. Anecdotes can be effective. The press release that generated a lead that led to a big sale may never have generated single clip or pushed more than a dozen people to the website, but it worked. The article linked on an obscure blog that caught the eye of the guy the VP sat next to on the airplane and turned into marketing partnership was a blip on the radar…but it worked. Listen to the people on the front lines — in sales, business development, and service.  Collect statistics and anecdotes. 

Not every thing you do leads directly to sales, but it all should drive the business forward.

The Recession — Opportunity for Startups? Yes.

11 May

The Silicon Valley Insider published an article worth reading if you’re running a startup.  In a nutshell:  Recessions can be opportunities to position yourself for success, refocus the business, fix what’s wrong, and get yourself on the right track.  

And it’s true…to a point. Standing with another dad at my son’s baseball game, I heard a perfect rundown of how hard it is to keep a startup going these days — cash flow issues, missed payroll, missed opportunities and an unwillingness to adapt the sales strategy.  Success hinges on being clear eyed to the opportunities in front of you, ruthless in managing assets and resources, and willing to go all out after opportunities that are real. 

Focus and passion are key, but more critical is the willingness and ability to outwork the competition.  As the Insider notes, big competitors will probably advertise less — with less overt noise crowding the marketplace, tactics like influencer outreach and addressing potential customers and influencers via social media can be even more powerful.  It’s a lot of work, but you can open channels to the right people, spread your message, and make yourself more easily found by the people and communities you want to reach.

Not to minimize the challenges — you either have the money and the talent and the strategy and the time and the right answer — or you don’t.  But if your startup can invest today — dollars, time, talent or hustle — good things will happen.

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