Many people who want to build a good public relations program for the launch of their new business or a new product for their business sometimes mistakenly assume the best way to win the game is to avoid the hard work part.
Public relations is like running a presidential campaign for each and every product you sell and each business initiative you launch. The only way to make it work is to get your work out in front of the people you are trying to sell.
Working the Crowd
Putting your product in the hands of your customers is still the best way to improve sales. It makes no difference if you are launching a new business, running a storefront, working at a swap meet or selling vacuum cleaners door to door. There is a tremendously powerful connection a salesman can make with a potential customer if he or she simply shows them the product. Ask any car salesman if it is easier to sell a car to someone who has driven it or to someone who has only seen the commercials.
This principle is one of the key reasons shows and conventions are so successful. A good example of this was the West Coast Computer Faire in 1977 where Apple Computer first introduced the Apple II. Many believe the Mac and the many years of success Apple enjoyed in the 1980s were a direct result of the seeds planted during that San Francisco Spring.
Building a Community
One of the early heroes of the self-publishing phenomenon is a man named Joe Konrath. He claims to have visited more bookstores than any other author, and according to his popular blog, he just might be right. Konrath claims to have visited more than 1200 bookstores in 42 states. The results can’t be denied. He is a three-time #1 Amazon best-seller and his books have been reviewed more than ten thousand times on the popular site.
What Konrath’s experience shows is that building a community around a product is just as important as introducing that product in the first place. Every book Konrath releases now, whether it is in print or an e-book, rockets to the top of the charts on the strength of his existing fanbase alone. When organic sales are added, it is no mystery why his products sell.
Once you’ve built a community of enthusiastic customers, keeping in touch with them is vitally important. While some businesses lend themselves better to newsletters and meetup events, every business should consider some effort to bring their community together as often as possible. Not only does this provide new sales opportunities, it gives the company and the product a chance to renew its presence in the customers’ lives.
Media exposure is absolutely crucial for commercial initiatives now. There is simply no way around the fact that media is front and center in the lives of most people, and especially those who have disposable income and are likely to become customers. A company like Blue Coat addresses this need by putting together a team of editors and media outlets like PCWorld and ZDnet to promote the features of their cybersecurity systems. Writers and opinion-shapers are highly useful not only because of their readerships, but also because their words can be used to promote your product in every other market.
Make a Plan
“Plan your work. Work your plan.” This advice is more relevant now than it has ever been before. We live in a world of almost constant distractions, and the overwhelming majority of those distractions will hurt your business if you spend too much time on them. It’s going to take time to put your plan into action, and it’s going to take time for your plan to come to fruition. Let your business breathe and stick to your knitting. That’s the only way to win.
Sales is a tough job. There is no reason to make it tougher than it has to be, however. If you follow the basic principles of proper planning, understand the nature of your customers and take the time to earn your success, you will have given yourself a huge advantage in the marketplace.