Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Admittedly I am big fan of the TV program Shark Tank.
The program focuses on aspiring entrepreneurs who seek to secure investments and partnerships with one or more of the “Sharks”, billionaires and millionaires who seek to grow their fortunes by investing in companies with high growth potential.
Over time I have watched nearly every episode. In nearly all cases it’s easy to predict who will get a check and who will not.
Here are five marketing mistakes small companies make that prevent them from getting a deal on Shark Tank and, for that matter, probably anywhere else.
1. Failure to construct a clear, concise business presentation.
Many of the Shark Tank contestants seek to be creative. Some downright funny. Others are extremely nervous, barely able to get the words out of their mouth.
No matter how entertaining, those who appear disorganized and unable to state their case are usually sent home without funding.
In many ways the same holds true for those seeking to build relationships at networking events, trade shows and on sales calls. They lack the approach or the skills necessary to get a prospective buyer to the “tell me more” stage of the presentation.
2. Failure to know your numbers.
Entrepreneurs must know their revenue figures and be able to communicate them to the Sharks. This includes specific numbers for the last three years, last year, even last month.
Beyond the numbers they want to know why sales are increasing or decreasing, and if any major orders are pending. Perhaps there is a logical explanation of how the company will grow over time.
Lack of hard numbers will usually send the entrepreneur packing.
Those seeking funding from an investor or lending institution must have a thorough knowledge and understanding of their pro forma. Even in a selling environment prospects like to know they are doing business with a growing firm as to one heading in the wrong direction.
3. Failure to know the competition.
As Shark Tank’s “Mr. Nice Guy”, Kevin O’ Leary often says “Why should I invest in you when a multi-billion dollar corporation can make the same thing and squash you like a cockroach.”
Business owners should study their competition and ensure their product or service provides them with a competitive advantage, something difficult to duplicate.
Companies lacking differentiation are usually shown the door. The same holds true in the marketplace where it can be difficult to gain share against older, more established competitors.
4. Failure to understand customer acquisition.
A recurring question is, “How much does it cost for you to acquire a customer?” Some entrepreneurs know the number, some do not.
The figure of course varies depending on the type of customer (business or consumer) and length of selling cycle.
Those with unintelligible or extremely high numbers send the sharks swimming.
A business owner should study this number, make attempts to lower costs, and offer customers more competitive pricing. Adjustments can be made as needed to stay a step ahead of the competition.
5. Failure to highlight strengths, hide weaknesses.
Potential "investees" often get hung up when a Shark brings up a negative but minor point.
The entrepreneur can get flustered even argumentative. Suddenly a non-issue becomes a major concern.
The discussion shifts quickly away from the product and focuses on the credibility of the individual. Fearing a personality clash the sharks shy away. What appeared to be a good investment a minute ago suddenly gets water logged.
Instead of dwelling on the negative, business owners should focus on all the positive problem solving aspects their product provides. The minor irritants can be swept away with solid facts, figures and case studies, easily demonstrating that they are a great company. Ready to swim with the sharks.
For more information visit Solomon Turner PR
photo courtesy of RenewCancelTV.com
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
2015 is here. Time to fine tune your public relations and marketing strategy and set a direction for business growth in the new year.
Five marketing trends stand out that will help you better connect with your targeted audience, confirm or change perceptions with stakeholders and clients, and convert more prospects into customers.
1. Focus on visual storytelling.
The growth and use of mobile devices is requiring marketers to become more creative and more precise as they communicate with potential customers. This includes formulating messages that are not only interesting but also digestible in the smaller platform.
One way to achieve this goal is to use more graphics, more photos and more videos as opposed to long form text.
Instead of a three page blog or email, focus on telling your story creatively. Like any good book, generate a beginning with a thought provoking ending.
Use visual mediums to deliver the message. The end result will be better viewership, better readership, and an increase in customer engagement.
2. Use More Video.
A 2014 trend continues. In a recent study by Sharaholic.com an analysis focused on various levels of engagement from different social sites. The site with the longest time of engagement, average pages per visit, and lowest bounce rate was YouTube.
Google+ was second and LinkedIn third. Interestingly Twitter and Facebook were well behind toward the end of the pack.
By its nature, video is entertaining and engaging. It lends itself perfectly to visual storytelling. Therefore if you use any of these social sites for marketing purposes, think video first.
3. Content Marketing is Still King.
Those companies that consistently create valuable content will gain a giant step on their competition. This includes reaching customers through a variety of channels.
The goal is to provide insight to your audience. When done correctly you can build rapport with your targeted demographic and build a loyal following.
Focus on social media, articles on your website, eNewsletters, case studies, videos, and sharing articles from other pertinent websites.
4. Develop Mobile Friendly Content.
As mentioned earlier, the growing use of mobile devices is going to demand content that is easily accessible on smaller devices.
According to Forbes, 87% of connected device sales by 2017 will be tablets and smartphones.
Businesses can create an alternate mobile version of a website or utilize web design that is more responsive to the smaller format.
Those companies failing to adapt to this trend will fall behind competitors adapting to these newer platforms.
5. Leverage Earned Media with Social Media.
In 2015, content may be king but quality content will rule. Businesses should utilize their PR and spread it across multiple platforms. Articles, interviews and even award lists are considered quality content not only by customers but also by search engines.
When published by a credible media organization, these placements not only help build corporate reputation but also boost your ranking on Google, Bing and others.
The end result will help your business rise above the noise and gain a leg up on the competition.
For more on how to create a marketing and PR campaign contact Solomon Turner
All photos and images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Many know Taylor Swift as a music star and international personality.
When she speaks young people listen. Then they buy her music, in droves.
Her latest album, 1989, sold over 1 million copies in its first week. It is the top selling album of 2014.
What many don’t know is the marketing genius behind the Taylor Swift “brand”. Ms. Swift may be as good a marketer as a she is a singer, and that is saying a lot.
The strategy behind the release of 1989 provides an outstanding case study of marketing techniques.
Many can be applied to nearly any business wishing to build a public relations campaign that creates awareness, builds momentum and separates them from the competition.
1. “Influencing the Influencers”. Ms. Swift told David Letterman that she held private parties at her residences in advance of the album release. The goal was to let some true fans hear the music gain some feedback, and create pre-release buzz.
This technique has been used by large innovative companies such as Apple that have been known for sending laptops, iPhones and other devices to the media and other influential individuals in advance of their public launch.
Almost any business can do the same. They can send their products to key well-known clients, the media and even influential bloggers. The result can build excitement for your product and a lot of chatter about your company.
2. Spread your message creatively across a variety of social media channels. Swift is said to handle her own social media posting. This includes connecting with fans on a personal level with individualized messages as well as using different channels for different purposes, all reaching a variety of audiences in a variety of ways.
Creating one message and putting the same thing on a pre-planned board that hits five outlets with exactly the same thing is not the answer. Instead create a video specifically for YouTube, create an Infographic for LinkedIn, generate an engaging photo for Twitter, and post other more personal photos on Facebook. Generate comments and respond to feedback. Business should take some time to understand their audience, analyze how their clients use social media, and determine the best channels to reach them in the most creative way possible.
3. “Partner Up”. It helps to have friends in high places and Swift’s friends Lena Dunham (HBO Star), Lorde (music star) and other A list type celebs used their social channels to talk about the album. One would expect the favor to no doubt be returned.
A business could do something similar by hosting an event with a company(s) that provides complimentary product offerings. All firms could work their list and invite their customers to attend. At the same time, all could use social media to not only send out information about the happening but also promote their partners’ products as well.
The end result raises the awareness level for all concerned while at the same time helps each firm reach new potential groups of clients.
4. Utilize all facets of traditional media. As an international celebrity, Swift was easily able to appear on every national talk show and sing highlights from the new album. While most businesses can never pursue this type of exposure, nor, in most cases, should they, even small businesses can obtain media coverage in a daily newspaper, business journal or trade publication.
Many firms have products or services well suited for TV news coverage or radio interviews. As you send out email newsletters, marketing pieces, and attend trade shows, keep in mind the power of the press and the value of a few well placed articles that can reach hundreds if not thousands of key prospects.
5. Focus, engage and execute. Once Swift launched her album, she seemed to appear everywhere. As mentioned earlier she was a guest on network talk shows, day and night, and featured in newspapers and magazines. This was in addition to constant connections with her fans on social media. She even put together a deal with Target for additional exposure.
When launching a new key product or service, a business should muster all their marketing muscle and deliver the message across all pertinent channels, all at the same time. Whether it involves email, newspaper coverage, or special events, running these efforts concurrently will help your business reach greater levels of awareness and speed the effort to reach your marketing and sales objective.
For more information visit Solomon Turner Solomon Turner PR or call 314-205-0800
Monday, September 29, 2014
President Bush Takes The Challenge-USA Today
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been a PR campaign for the ages.
By now you have participated in your own challenge or at least seen one on video.
The Challenge consists of a friend, associate or colleague asking you to dump a bucket of ice water on your head within the next 24 hours or donate $100 to the ALS Foundation.
Many who take the challenge also donate to the charity. What started out as a small idea has turned into a nationwide movement. Everyone from a-list celebrities to former presidents to corporate executives has endured the ice bucket dump.
Most have even taped their challenge and posted it for viewing on YouTube, Facebook and other social media outlets.
The campaign has reached unparalleled levels of success.
Over 3 million have donated since the campaign was launched and over $100 million has been raised to combat ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
From a marketing and PR perspective, this is probably one of the great campaigns of the last 20 years.
Here’s why this worked…
A short analysis indicates the Challenge had five key elements that all worked seamlessly together.
1. It benefits a worthy cause, even if many never heard of Lou Gehrig or ALS.
2. Timing was perfect. It took place during the hot summer months when people are looking to cool off.
3. It’s easy to execute. Dumping an ice bucket on your head is an easy task that nearly everyone can do.
4. It’s fun. Sure you get a jolt from the icy water but everyone gets a good laugh watching you get soaked.
5. It’s visual. Perfect for social media, and, in the case of celebrities, television news. The high visibility enabled the Challenge to gain momentum and generate a life of its own.
Business owners and marketing executives would love nothing more to create a virtual event on-par with the ALS effort, and surely many are spending numerous hours thinking about something they can create that can go viral. Yet, the chances of developing something with this type of reach and momentum is extremely rare.
Instead, businesses wishing to create a highly memorable campaign should utilize their time more efficiently by focusing on their core audience. What it is that truly inspires their customers?
Once you have ascertained what it is that drives your customers to do business with you and your firm, you can plug-in the five key elements that made the ALS Challenge a success.
Your campaign should focus on…
1. Who will benefit? It should be something of value that helps your customers know that their participation contributes to the greater good.
2. Timing is everything. Schedule your campaign during peak buying times and when awareness is heightened. After all, would the Ice Bucket Challenge have worked in the winter?
3. Keep it simple. Your customers don’t have time to go on a scavenger hunt or spend hours trying to decipher something overly complicated.
4. Make it fun. People like being challenged as long as they can attain results in a timely fashion.
5. Make it visual. If you can create a campaign that can be taped and played out on social sites, or at the very least photographed, the chances of creating a memorable event will increase tenfold.
Steve Turner is a Principal with Solomon/Turner PR in St. Louis, a firm that specializes in media relations and publicity for businesses and organizations throughout the Midwest. For additional information visit http://www.solomonturner.com
Thursday, May 15, 2014
I recently attended a motivational seminar in St. Louis. One of the speakers featured was a fast rising motivational star, Eric Thomas.
Eric told the story of the lion and the gazelle. He recited an often quoted refrain. The original one may have be penned by Christopher McDougall in his book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.”
Thomas went on to use this as a sales discourse. Paraphrasing, he said as the anointed hunter of his family the lead lion realizes his family will not eat until a gazelle is brought back to the den. The lion will chase his prey from sun up to sun down until the job is done. He does not care how hot it is, how many miles he has traveled, or how fast the pack of gazelles is running. Unless that lion can apprehend their prey, he realizes his family will starve and he will have let them down.
Meantime the gazelle’s goal is only to avoid the lion. Once the gazelle realizes he won’t be caught, he can relax. He can eat some plants, drink whatever water he can find, and spend the rest of the day lounging, waiting for the next sunrise.
Thomas related this scenario to those in the selling world. Are you a lion? Do you get out of bed early with a game plan in tact ready to pursue the next deal? Will you push away common every day obstacles and let nothing stop you in pursuit of your goal, realizing you are responsible for feeding your family?
Or… Are you a gazelle? Happy to just survive, kick back and avoid trouble to last another day. A relatively average existence.
This thought process can also apply to business owners and those responsible for building their brands and marketing their companies.
What is the difference between the marketing lion and the gazelle?
The marketing lion is the one is driven to succeed. He or she is an innovator, not afraid to step out the box, try new strategies, new tactics, and utilize out-of-the-box thinking to outpace competitors.
The marketing gazelle, on the other hand, is happy to just maintain the status quo. They do things because their company has always done them that way, with hopes they can just hang around and survive another year until the economy gets better.
Marketing lions tend to dominate their industry. Marketing gazelles tend to get eaten alive by the competition.
Which one are you?
For more information on PR and marketing trends visit Solomon/Turner PR
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Here are five simple rules to follow for anyone thinking about writing a blog for business.
1. Create a goal of what you would like to achieve.
Like any other business or marketing tactic, a blog should be part of an overall strategy that helps you connect with your targeted audience. Rather than just blogging for blogging sake some thought should be given as to the intent of one’s writing. Will the blog be used for general branding, thought leadership with key executives, or a method of moving a prospective customer further down the sales funnel. Once a goal has been established you can use words and phrases specifically designed to generate the desired result.
2. Write what you know.
A blog for business is exactly that, an outlet to communicate with your audience from a business perspective. If you are an engineer write about engineering. If you are an accountant write about tax tips or ideas to help someone save money. If you are a plumber you can write about preventative maintenance to avoid clogged sinks and drains. Though you may have strong opinions on a variety of subjects this is not a place to opine about politics, religion or movies.
3. Keep it short and succinct.
A business blog is not a whitepaper or an elongated essay. A good rule of thumb is to error on the side of brevity. In most cases 300-500 words should suffice. Sentences should be succinct and the message clear. In most cases one should start with an overriding lead in of what you are trying to convey then follow it up with facts, examples or supporting information.
4. Maintain Consistency.
Many businesses begin a blog then abandon it a month or two down the road. The challenge and time constraint of generating usable content can become problematic, especially for a small business where staff members are already juggling multiple projects trying to meet customer demands. Determine your comfort level for completing blog entries whether it be once per week, every other week or once per month. Outsource this task if necessary. Your goal will not be reached if you do not maintain some type of consistency with your writing.
5. Use a visual(s) to engage the reader.
Nearly all research now points out that any type of article, blog or written piece generates more readership with a visual attached. Check out Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Do you even care to read any material that is not accompanied by a graphic, photo or video? The proper use of visuals, in line with the intent of the article, will help engage readers and encourage them to stay with your blog from start to finish.
For addition PR and marketing tips visit http://www.solomonturner.com
Thursday, March 27, 2014
I had the opportunity to watch a friend and speaker, Fred Miller,
http://www.NoSweatPublicSpeaking.com deliver a great talk recently on how to craft an elevator speech.
The elevator speech, as defined by Wikipedia, is a pitch, speech, or statement used as a short summary to quickly and simply define a person, profession, product, service, organization or event and its value proposition.
It says the name "elevator pitch" reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes.
The term itself comes from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator. If the conversation inside the elevator is interesting and value adding, the talk will continue after the elevator ride or end in exchange of business card or a scheduled meeting. If not, the two will go on their way.
In most cases today the elevator speech is commonly used at networking events, chamber of commerce meetings, and other business functions.
Those of us who attend dozens of these events on a regular basis hear hundreds of these introductions per year. Some, who may use Fred’s model or something similar, do a good job of explaining what they do and communicate their value proposition. Others sort of stumble through it and don’t really create a hook or reason to elicit further conversation.
Then there are those who really don’t have an elevator speech at all. Instead they are more apt to introduce themselves, hand you a business card, ask what you do and walk away. Nothing is really communicated. No follow-up action is prompted.
Savvy businesses should make “Networking 101” part of their basic sales training. The objective is to carry over the firm’s mission and unique selling proposition into a nice 30-60 second conversational package.
This can be accomplished by analyzing your web site, standard sales pieces, and marketing materials.
These materials can yield some nice nuggets of what makes your business unique and why clients hire your firm.
Then you can meld in that information with your name and your own personal expertise.
Once you feel comfortable make sure to write it all down. Then time it for length. A standard rule in broadcast copy writing is that about 7 to 7 ½ lines equal 30 seconds. 15 Lines should equal around sixty seconds when spoken at a normal pace.
Once you are pleased with the end result make sure to test it out. You can role play it a few times with a colleague or close business associate. This gives you a chance to fine tune your speech before taking it public.
As companies spend thousands of dollars per year on brand building efforts they should also ensure their team is adequately prepared for short but valuable introductions with prospective clients.
The goal is to maximize the selling effort and communicate value no matter when, where and how long these golden opportunities occur.
Feel free to visit Fred’s website for more information and for PR Tips visit http://www.solomonturner.com