Turn the pre-Christmas Slump into a Season of Growth

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Many businesses experience a slowdown over Christmas, but there is no reason to just take the foot off the growth pedal at this time of year.

Making the strategic decision to grow your business over the holidays sounds almost counter-intuitive, but making smart moves in December can turn a slump into a spike for your business.  Here are some ideas.

1. Tis the season to be thankful: Over the course of a year business leaders, can engage with hundreds of people, many of whom have gone out of their way to deliver great service.  What better time than now to say thanks for connecting with you over the year.  According to Adam Smith’s law of scarcity, hand written notes are now highly valuable due to their rarity, and at this time of year when people are snowed with off-the-shelf cards and Christmas emails, a personal note with a heart-felt message of appreciation is GOLD and will not go unnoticed.

2. Practice corporate goodwill: Although this time of year is good for planning for the holidays, it is a time when many CEOs do their more general planning for the business as a whole.  If you have someone with whom you would like to collaborate, or to secure as a client, why not put some groundwork in place now to get them on board for the first of the New Year?  Schedule time each day in December prior to the 25th to call a potential client or business partner to wish them the best of the season, and then while debating Noosa vs Mooloolaba as a holiday destination, ask what their plans are for the future, and ask if your business might help them achieve those goals.

3. Networking with nous: there are innumerable Christmas parties coming up, and it can be appealing to try to duck as many of these as possible, but if done correctly, they can set you up for the next year with a host of hot business leads and ideas.  When choosing which invitations to accept, rather than playing it safe and catching up with old acquaintances, make a point of choosing ones where you DON’T know many people and where you will make NEW leads. Before each event, draw up a list of what you want to get out of it, and don’t stop meeting people until you have made a connection worth keeping and set a date to catch up in 2013 to develop those ideas further.

4. Plan your success for the New Year: Spend time reviewing what worked best in your business in 2012, and what you intend to change for 2013, mapping out which resources, people and ideas you need to achieve those aspirations. If you need to acquire new assets to achieve those goals, lock them in place NOW, don’t wait.

By following these easy steps, the pre-Christmas yawn may well be transformed into a eureka as you experience your busiest and most productive time of all.  What a great Christmas present to give to yourself!

Publicity Queen
Yours in PR

How to Reach Presumers (Pre-Consumers)

 

We have all heard the expression that the customer is always right, and in our current market, the consumer is more in control now than at any time in our history.  Expectations are running at an all-time high as consumers want the best, they want it now and first, and they want a real, human connection, too.

The demand for consumers to be in charge of their purchasing decisions has driven a new phenomenon – consumers are now PRESUMERS.  Rather than waiting for a product to be developed, attending the launch and making an order, consumers are now TELLING companies what products they want, helping to design them, and via crowdsourcing and rampant self-entrepreneurship are doing it for themselves and circumventing traditional methods altogether.

This appeals to a key element of human nature.  We love to get the first look at something – the sneak peek, the insider insight, the first look and PRESUMERS love nothing more than getting involved with, pushing, funding, and promoting products and services before they are available.

So what are the key factors driving this trend towards PRESUMERS?

According to Trendwatching, the five drivers converting consumers into presumers are:

1. FIRSTISM: More, faster, better, special, now

While the desire for something new is, well… nothing new, what is different is how consumers now seek to make purchases and shop in the future tense.  By helping to develop products that are not available yet, they are literally consuming their own future.

2. STORIES: Great story, great status

Having what is new, before it is even available, is all about bragging rights and status for the consumer, so, naturally, being a presumer is the ultimate in consumers showing off. Getting something before everyone else, in fact being involved in developing a new product is the ultimate consumer brag, perfect for sharing via tweet, post, status update and other social media forms.

3. BELONGING – Come together, right now

Being part of the creation of something new gives presumers a sense of belonging to a special and unique club, and given them a a sense of community.  It gives them a bedded-down tie-in with the brand, and with the other consumers who are fellow-advocates.  This investment is likely to have longevity too, as they can become brand disciples potentially for life.

4. OFF = ON – Online is offline is online…

Presumers want the same feeling of ‘special’ they get from their online interactions with brands as they do in a traditional retail setting and the in-store ‘pre-launch’ is the perfect vehicle for this.  They get excellent customer service, they get the new, but it is still ‘in store’.

5. NEW PLATFORMS: Disrupted funding, making and selling

DIY has taken on a whole new life in the world of the presumer.  Platforms such as crowdsourcing have created a new ‘make it yourself’ phenomenon leading to a whole new generation of startup entrepreneurs who are quite literally creating new companies in their bedrooms.  To reinforce the financial power of this trend, it is expected in the USA alone, this trend will raise USD 2.8 billion this year.

So what is the takeaway from this?  It is worthwhile remembering that as consumers become more educated, more mobile and more web-savvy every day, more and more consumers will become PRESUMERS.  And if you don’t give them what they want, now more than ever, they are just as likely to get out there and create it for themselves!


Yours in PR

Are You Joining in the Click Frenzy?


It is fascinating how time, the seasons, and the calendar all have such an impact upon consumer purchasing patterns.  It used to be that we all filled up our cars at the petrol station on a Tuesday, and each year we wait anxiously for the Boxing Day sales but there are new consumer trends that, for some at least, will change this behaviour.

Tonight in Australia, the largest mass online purchasing offer that has ever been created takes shape in the form of Click Frenzy.  According to news reports, more than one million Australians have already registered for the sale, which goes live at 7pm AEDT tonight.

This latest craze is an interesting hybrid of a flash-shop, an online sale, and a digital voucher, backed by big time hype, the likes of which have barely been seen before.

What I am wondering is, will these flash-in-the-pan, marketing-driven sales actually have a significant, measurable impact on how people budget for the Christmas retail bulge, and will it wean them away from more traditional spending patterns than are time and calendar-sensitive.

For my own part I have participated in time-sensitive sales before, including those for airlines and hotel rooms, in which a very few items at very low prices are offered and are snapped up almost as soon as they go online.  While this may create a ‘win’ for the lucky few, there is the danger of a customer backlash if what is offered – in reality – differs greatly from what is actually available for sale.

In the longer term, does this have the potential to change consumer behaviour, to recruit a whole new group of online shoppers that have never dipped their toe into the waters of e-commerce or voucher sales or flash stores before; or will it backfire in spectacular fashion due to high demand and low availability?  Or perhaps like many over-hyped events, will it simply run out of puff?

Time will tell, and that time is 7pm this evening – let me know if you are taking part in this consumer experiment. To click or not to click… that is the question!


Yours in PR

Is M-Commerce Retail’s Final Frontier?


Retail is experiencing nothing short of a commerce revolution and the speed of change is accelerating, and with Australian consumers known to be early-adapters and with mobiles at mass saturation point in the market, the implications for Australian businesses are profound.

According to Michelle Hammond of Start Up Smart, Mobile Commerce or M-Commerce is one of five key new trends that are transforming the retail marketscape.

She cites the latest eBay Online Business Index (OBI),  which reveals that nearly half of Australia’s top eBay businesses said they would optimise online content for mobile.  These findings were backed up by new research from Nielsen’s who have underscored the power and potential of this new trend.

So what does this actually mean for business?  It seems the attention span of consumers is shorter than ever, and the edge that M-Commerce has is in shrinking the time-lag between the initial stages of product research and identification and the eventual purchase.

Businesses who want to tap into this mobile marketplace need to enable their web presence not only with an online ‘store’ for purchases, but to take that extra step so that there are only a few easy, linear steps in the sales trajectory.  While Julius Ceasar famously Came, Saw and Conquered, for M-Commerce the mantra needs to be ‘I see’, ‘I want’, ‘I’ve bought’.

It seems to me there are a few must-dos for business here.

If your business has a good or service for sale, there must be a way to complete that transaction online.  Cataloguing and uploading your inventory may seem painful but it is a crucial step.

It is worth considering in addition to the traditional ‘online store’, can you develop an ‘App’ that you can offer for a free download for your customers?  The development of these Apps need not be expensive, and is a worthwhile investment to set you apart from your competitors.

If, on the other hand, your business offers more esoteric and less tangible products, such as knowledge, advice and expertise; then think about how to ‘commoditise’ your business… if you are selling your insights, why not distill them into a buyable format – can customers buy your book, or pay for a consultation?

Once you are M-Commerce enabled, you place your business in a space where you can recruit your customers as your secret sales team – why not prompt purchasers after they have bought your latest product to ‘share’ the sale via social media, and incentivise them for doing so?  This ‘word of mouth’ sales endorsement is nothing new, and is so easily adaptable in our digital age.

How is your business faring in the push towards fleet, fast, flexible commerce of the future? I would love to hear your insights on this.


Yours in PR

Publicity Queen Scores Two Covers in Two Weeks



There are times when as PRincipal of Publicity Queen I could not be prouder of what my team have achieved, and recently I had that experience when not just one but two of our clients made front page news within a fortnight across two States.

Both the Hobson’s Bay Leader (pictured far left) and Brisbane’s mX newspaper (pictured left) featured colourful and informative coverage of our clients, namely Oktoberfest Brisbane and Animal Aid.

These achievements take our total to more than 20 front page covers that we have achieved for our clients, and it is a reminder to both me and my team of talented Queens of just what is possible when great story ideas, teamed with great pictures and content, when pitched by a gun publicist, can achieve!

These latest cover are now framed, mounted and adorn the Publicity Queen Wall of Fame in the office, and it occurred to me to share with you exactly what we do to celebrate our wins here at Publicity Queen.

I wonder how other businesses celebrate their successes and share that sense of achievement with their staff?  I would love to hear from you exactly how you ‘share the love’ in your businesses, giving recognition and inspiring your teams to succeed.  Do write and let me know.


Yours in PR

DOs and DON’Ts When Facing the Media

As PR professionals we speak to media representatives all the time, but it CAN be a tricky skill to master, which is why I thought it opportune to share a few insights about what PR people should and should not say when speaking to reporters.

Bear in mind reporters often call when PR people are on the hop and inevitably when the journalist is close to deadline, and in the pursuit of a story have been known to trip up even the savviest of operators.

For this reason, once your media release has gone out – be aware that you have invited the media into your world and they may well come knocking, which is a good thing.

So, once you have piqued their interest, the people at PR Daily have done some interesting work on the key phrases PR people need to use when dealing with the media.  They were so apt and timely, I thought I would share them with you.

Things PR People SHOULD say:

1. “I’ll start on this immediately.”  When you get a request from a journalist, it must be treated as a priority task because with news, as with most things in life, timing is everything.  If you deal with a reporter’s request speedily and with accuracy and completeness it may well develop into a relationship that is mutually beneficial into the future as they may come to rely on you as a regular and reliable ‘source’ for stories.

2. “Here’s an update…”  If the story is developing rapidly, or if you are still waiting on key pieces of info, there is nothing to be lost by giving them a progress report on what information you do have, and which pieces you are still working on.  This is a good faith gesture that reminds them that you are on the case.

3.I can coordinate visuals.” With TV, print and online reporters this is a crucial extra step than can ensure that your story gets picked up while others, that might not have the additional element of an engaging visual, might not make the cut.

4.I liked your coverage of _____.” Being knowledgeable of a reporter’s ‘beat’ or area of expertise is respectful and shows that you know your stuff, and proves that you are not taking the old ‘scatter gun’ approach to contacting the media, but rather that you have put some thought into it, and are targeting them specifically, which they will appreciate.

Conversely there are some pitfalls to avoid when speaking to reporters, so for completeness here are the top 4 things PR people should NOT say to journalists

1.Did you get my press release?” For a journo, this is a total non-starter.  If you sent the media release, chances are they got it, and are calling you as a result.  They are calling you for information that is not readily available, to draw out the story and to see what unique or interesting angles they can pursue.  Have faith in the strength of your story angle but be flexible to develop it with them. And don’t beg.

2. “What types of articles do you run?” It is your job to know which reporters you are pitching your story to, and their areas of interest.  If getting your story into their publication is important, then you should already know this info before you speak to them.

3. “This is a perfect fit for you.” As well as being presumptuous, this line is unhelpful – it is not for you to decide if this is the right story for their publication. That is the role of the reporter and their editor or sub-editor.  Don’t tell them how to do their job, just help them to do it.

4. “You’ll have to be quick; I don’t have much time” Journalists work with real time pressure – it is a job requirement and a reality of every publication.  Your deadlines are not their problem, but the need for you to work with their deadline IS important.  Be respectful of their timeframe and try your best to meet it.  Be as helpful and timely as you can in providing information and check what format they require supporting materials – images, video, audio, interviews… whatever it might be.

All of the above is salient advice, and in the context of the ongoing cutbacks on the number of journalists working here in our Australian market, the need for efficient inter-relationships between journalists and PR practitioners has never been so important.  A GOOD PR firm will manage these relationships deftly and with great aplomb, thereby marking themselves out as genuine professionals.  If you need a referral to an agency like that, I think I might just know of one 😉


Yours in PR

 

 

Publicity Queen Frothing With Excitement Over Latest Front Page Scoop


Wünderbar! The entire Publicity Queen team are positively frothing with excitement over the latest front page coverage that has been secured on behalf of our client, Oktoberfest Brisbane.

On Tuesday 2 October 2012, the front cover of mX newspaper featured this very engaging and enticing image of Lauren Dashwood holding two steins of Germany’s finest lagers and wearing the traditional dirndl in preparedness for Oktoberfest Brisbane, a much anticipated cultural celebration that begins on 12 October at the RNA Showgrounds.

This is far from the first time that Publicity Queen have snagged the front cover of mX, but this coverage is a very pleasing result as we are certain the image would strike a pleasing chord with Brisbane commuters, who all pick up and read the newspaper on their afternoon commute in their thousands every day.

With only a few days left until Oktoberfest Brisbane kicks off, there is a culmination of media interest and activity about the event, including press coverage as well as TV, radio and online buzz.  In addition to covering the event, many journalists have expressed to the team at Publicity Queen their interest in attending.

This result is great news given that 2012 is the first year Publicity Queen has promoted Oktoberfest Brisbane, and the entire team are getting into the spirit of all things German as the count down begins to the opening day, including dressing in traditional garb for the big opening night.

Oktoberfest Brisbane will showcase German music and dancing, fun cultural events for all the family, as well as the finest German beer, wine and food.  The event will be held over two weekends, 12-14 October and 19-21 October 2012 at the RNA (EKKA) Showgrounds.  Tickets are selling fast, and are available for purchase online here

Hope to see you there!


Yours in PR

Email Still Preferred by Aussie Businesses


When choosing the most effective way to reach Australian business people, it seems we may neglect email at our own peril.

A study by ExactTarget, picked up by Michael Bleby of BRW has found that while social media may be the hot medium, almost three-quarters of Australians check their email first thing each morning, while only 17 per cent check Facebook first, followed by news sites (6 per cent), one’s own website (1 per cent), with Google+ and Twitter ranking last (0.6 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively).

It appears Australians are not unique in their primary reliance on email. In the UK, 73 per cent of consumers check email first and in the US, it is 58 per cent.

The reliance on email MAY be a generational thing, as among younger users, with most 18-to-24 year-olds reported that they checked social media ahead of email in the morning.  But even within this group, those in full-time employment tended to check email first, reflecting the more formal and busines-like nature of email.

The research also reflects a surprising continued reliance on PCs for accessing messages.  As many as 74 per cent of respondents said they used a PC to read their first online content of the day, with 14 per cent using a mobile phone. A further 7 per cent said they waited until arriving at work or school to do so, and then in the evening, the use of email drops off and social media use increases.

I have found this research to be true in my own business, and have experienced that a targetted and well-written email can be a very effective tool, despite the immediacy and currency of social media.

This research also reinforces a view of mine that email and LinkedIn remain the most powerful connectors for business, while social media remains – more or less – social!

Has this been your experience, too? Write and let me know!


Yours in PR

Do You Know Who Your Buyer Personae Are?


The industry consensus is that each brand needs to have a suite of ‘buyer personae’, or differentiated identities for all of the different sorts of people who buy your product or service.  But what are the buyer personae for your brand? Do you need them? How do you develop them, and what are the mistakes to avoid?

A buyer persona is like an individualised profile for different groups of consumers who are your customers, both actual and potential.  In order to deliver strategic and targeted messages to them, the prevailing wisdom is that you develop a profile for each of these market segments, and sell to them ‘individually’, as it were.

So, how do you develop the buyer personae for your business?  Adele Revella of the Buyer Persona Institute advises that there are four key mistakes to avoid when developing your authentic buyer personae.  In general terms it seems the key is  actually talking to buyers, and here are the 4 Key Mistakes to avoid:

1. Making stuff up about buyers

To target your buyers effectively, you will need to uncover specific insights that are unknown to your competitors or anyone inside your company. This information will be so valuable that you would never post it on your website. However, it will tell you, with scary accuracy, exactly what you need to do to deliver content that persuades buyers to choose you.  The only way to gather clear, unexpected insights about how your buyers make decisions is to have a conversation with them, so make it a priority to spend a few hours a month interviewing recent buyers, including those who chose you and those who did not, and importantly discovering both why they did buy from you, and why they did not.

2. Getting sidetracked by irrelevant trivia

It doesn’t help you when developing these buyer personas to get bogged down in the detail.  You  really need only five insights:

  • Priority initiatives: What are the three to five problems or objects that your buyer persona dedicates time, budget, and political capital to?
  • Success factors: What are the tangible or intangible metrics or rewards that the buyer associates with success, such as “grow revenue by X” or a promotion?
  • Perceived barriers: What factors could prompt the buyer to question whether your company and its solution can help with achieving his or her success factors? This is when you begin to uncover unseen factors, such as competing interests, politics, or prior experiences with your company or a similar company.
  • Buying process: What process does this persona follow in exploring and selecting a solution that can overcome the perceived barriers and achieve their success factors?
  • Decision criteria: What aspects of each product will the buyer assess in evaluating the alternative solutions available? To be useful, the decision criteria should include insights both from buyers who chose a competitor and those who decide not to buy a solution at all.

3.    Developing too many buyer personae

If you differentiate your market too much then you find your marketing strategy is too segmented and becomes unwieldy and overly complex.  Set a limit on how many market personae you want to develop and make differentiations between them only if the differences are critical to purchasing decisions.

4.    Conducting scripted Q&A interviews with buyers

Although using a script when interviewing buyers seems like a smart strategy, what you are doing is actually pre-baking your customers’ answers.  Instead, have a list of core information you need to capture, and so long as you tick those off, keep the conversation relaxed and focussed on the customer, not on the information you are trying to discover.

If you are just starting the process of developing buyer personae, then you might find the tools that Ms Revella has developed to be quite useful.  She has shared with all of us (thanks Adele!)  her Core Buyer Persona Template which is a very useful tool in beginning this process.

By avoiding the 4 key mistakes in developing buyer personae, your buyers’ needs will be the focus of your marketing strategies and tactics. You’ll become so attuned to your buyers’ perspective that you will consistently impress them, confidently delivering content that answers their questions and persuades them to choose you.

Let me know your thoughts on developing buyer personae.  Is this something you are already doing in your business? Is it working for you? I would love to know your thoughts.


Yours in PR

Which Sectors Are Set to Soar? Find out here

Recently I wrote to you about ongoing pain in the retail sector, which begs the question, which are the sectors of our economy that are set for growth?

According to reporting in the Sydney Morning Herald, there are a new Lucky Seven, the new key areas of the economy that are insulated from pain as our economy transforms.

The Lucky Seven, according to the report, are:

1. CONSTRUCTION

2. FINANCE AND INVESTMENT3. SERVICE INDUSTRIES

4. HEALTH5. E-COMMERCE

6. MINING

7. OUTBOUND TOURISM

The report explains that the sectors mentioned above are those which are forecast to grow over the next three to five years and which small businesses can profit from.  These predictions are based on both short term and systemic factors affecting the Australian economy, including commodity prices, the Australian dollar, and persistent patterns in both traditional and online retail that have remained constant over the last few years and show no sign of abating.

So, what to do if your business is not part of this group?  Take heart that such future-gazing is notoriously unreliable, and know that these market conditions are subject to change – witness talk already about the boom in mining and minerals to already be over, while the simultaneous slowdown in China as well as the very slow pick up in the US economy are potential game-changers.

Moreover, building in enhanced levels of flexibility in both your market offering and the way in which you sell (shopfront and online) will only help you to build the tools you need to tap into market opportunities as and when they emerge.  We all need to emulate the best of the Olympic spirit that has gripped the world this past few weeks – fast, agile, flexible, adaptable, and willing to change our approach no matter what the obstacle might be, short or long term.

Are you in the Lucky Seven?  What are your thoughts on these predictions? Let me know.


Yours in PR

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