How best to promote my business?

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Last updated 05:00 17/12/2012

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Q: We're launching a new product and also want to boost our presence in the marketplace. Is it better to hire a public relations company to represent us or do it in-house?

A: Do you have the money? Most small to medium businesses don't. But it's worth thinking about what you can spare and building a plan around how to spend it effectively to raise your profile.

The s(co)urge of social media has all sorts of companies thinking they can do it themselves. The good news is you can. The bad news is you're unlikely to be very good at it.

There are plenty of marketing and public relations companies that understand that and are working to help the small guys. The hard bit is making sure you pick one who will work for you.

PR and marketing is a nefarious moneypit, and there's someone at every turn to help take your hard earned cash off you. Picking a strategic marketing partner who is in to your business and wants you to succeed doesn't necessarily translate to hiring the biggest and brightest in town.

To your question - work in-house to understand what you need marketing and PR to achieve for you.

The message that better profile means more sales is a myth. The beauty of the internet is that most marketing return on investment can be measured, but without knowing what you need to achieve, it's hard to know if you're getting it. 

So work out some key results that would be worth investing in and translate that to customer behaviour. What activity do you need to inspire in your clients to get the desired result? It's never as simple as "buy more of our stuff". Think it through.

Pick out where your clients are most likely to engage with messaging that would influence those behaviours. Even go ask them if you can. Then suss out what it takes to get into that frame. (Insert marketing/PR partner at this point).

Your marketing messaging and delivery can be optimised by a professional partner, but be clear about how resonant it is with your core values and purpose. The right words from the wrong mouth can sound hollow and ultimately rob you of precious opportunities to build a strong profile.

Don't confuse transmission with energy. Marketing and public relations can help you transmit better, but how much the lightbulb glows is always up to you.

- Nick Churchouse is the venture manager at Creative HQ, Wellington's business incubator and startup hub.

A: Good PR companies with an appropriate budget to do the job properly and a tight brief are worth their weight in gold. 

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However, too often businesses go in to broadcast mode without adequate preparation. Before beginning any promotional activity, make sure you are clear on your target market and how your core messages will leverage your value proposition.

Most NZ businesses are on tight budgets and mass market activities are often not the wisest investment, because they simply do not have the budgets or resources to do the job properly.

If you use a PR company, make sure they understand your market place and you have enough budget left over for other activities in the marketing mix.

If your budget is limited, a more direct launch strategy connecting with current and potential clients you already have a relationship with and have already prequalified will produce a better return on investment.

- Mark Robotham is an SME business adviser. Website: growthmanagement.co.nz  

If you want to ask our experts a question, please email jenny.keown@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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