Guest post:: Orly Telisman is the founder of Orly Telisman PR in Chicago. The firm handles consumer, lifestyle, non-profit and tech clients around the globe. Orly brings to each project more than a decade of experience in journalism, public and media relations, crisis management, social media, and promotional events. She develops on-target public relations and strategic communication plans and delivers them with excellence. Here, she writes about eight tips for strategic success in the new year.
As the year comes to a close, do you find yourself wondering how you once again didn’t do those marketing and PR things you told yourself you would do at the end of 2016? I’m in PR and I ask myself that question annually.
I am not here to belittle you or flagellate you (though I’m sadly excited I got to write the word flagellate… twice.)
Instead, I am here to give you eight tips for strategic success in the new year. Think of me as your Secret Santa (except that I’m Jewish… so Helpful Hebrew will have to suffice.)
Please know this one thing first: Communication planning doesn’t have to be an onerous chore. It doesn’t have to take all day, every day. This post is written into bite-sized activities in order to jump-start your new year. (Or, you can start it right now… go ahead!)
Complete all eight tips for strategic success in the new year or just tackle what you can. Start with the easiest and simply see where it takes you.
Remember, each completed task gets you a little closer to a year filled with strategic success for you and your company.
1. Know whom you are talking to.
If you sell a product for curly hair, you aren’t communicating with people who are bald. At least, we hope not! I know when I try to reach too broadly, I end up wasting time and resources. Instead, focus on what makes your messages more relevant to your target audience. Ultimately this focused messaging will increase sales. Take five minutes and jot down your primary audience, secondary, and tertiary. Your marketing budget should also follow these priorities.
2. Know what you’re talking about.
Now’s a great time to prepare or refresh that elevator spiel. NO MATTER WHAT: Keep it super-short and super-simple. Three sentences. Zero jargon. Make sure everyone on your team can recite it by heart. Unless you dramatically change your service or product, this message should keep a long shelf life. Why? Because your audience needs to hear the same message over and again before it finally sinks in and they take action.
3. Schedule what you are saying.
National Pizza Day is November 12. Purple Day for Epilepsy Awareness is March 28. August is the wettest month in Chicago. Take a few minutes to brainstorm which yearly commemorations or seasonal occurrences best align with your product/service. Plug them into your calendar (online or pin-up, whatever, just have a calendar!). Then plan communication and/or events that leverage these dates. Aim for just a few at first or jump to monthly only if you feel you can truly commit the time. Launch your new pizza specialty in November. Amp waterproofing service marketing in August. You get the idea.
4. Make it an event.
Host an event. This can align with a seasonal occurrence (see #3 above). Or, you may just want to host a customer appreciation day or a meet-and-greet cocktail party for your associates or vendors. Face-to-face is sadly getting rarer. But if you plan and throw a great event, people will remember you. Start your planning with pie-in-the-sky. Determine if you need help or can manage it with in-house staff. Develop a budget. Tweak as necessary. Most of all, HAVE FUN!
5. Buddy up.
Pancake guy, find syrup gal. Gym owner, meet nutritionist. Manicurist, meet hairstylist. Brainstorm ways you can leverage both of your sales by partnering up together. If you both need outside assistance, then investigate potential cost-savings for your combined communication efforts. Pitch media together for a bigger impact. Ready to take the relationship to the next level? Serve as accountability partners for each other in 2018. Remind pancake guy he wanted to launch his new web content by Q2. Ask gym gal if she’s finished her revised membership packages. We all need friends; better yet, friends that help us succeed!
If you are like me, you’ve been meaning to launch an e-newsletter or blog forever. For me, after six years in business, I’m finally walking the talk — which is hilarious since I do e-newsletters from clients all the time. For your specific e-reach, determine what you hope to achieve with an e-newsletter or blog. Figure out how often it’s feasible for you to complete, if you need outside resources, etc. Then, build that into your 2018 communications budget and calendar.
7. Do good.
Is there an issue or organization near-and-dear to you? Bonus points if it aligns with your product/service (pillow supplier – homeless shelters; restaurant—food pantry, educational software—underserved schools). Ask the organization how you can best support their mission. Host an event, donate a percentage of sale proceeds, provide in-kind support, promote the organization in your communication (see e-reach #6). The more your customers know about you and the good you do, the more they’ll want to be part of your world.
8. Be a joiner.
Choose and join a professional association. FYI, it doesn’t have to be the Dry Cleaners Association just because you are a dry cleaner. Maybe the local Chamber of Commerce is a better route. Or a religious or cultural organization. A women’s business group (like The Founding Moms Community.) The idea is to get you out and meet people on a consistent basis, get you to build new relationships, and gain and share advice.
Again, no one is expecting you to do all eight tips for strategic success in the new year (but if you do, seriously let me know, and I’ll send you a gold star!) The point is that if you do one or two of the above, it’s two more PR/Communications/marketing endeavors you will do in 2018 than you did in all of 2017, right? The point is if you plan ahead and make targeted efforts, you will absolutely see the sales and outreach benefit of your actions.