PRMG Hosts Fall Lecture Series at its Education and Training Center

PATCHOGUE, NY — The Public Relations and Marketing Group, LLC (PRMG) announces it is offering a series of lectures on how attorneys, restaurants, retail stores, companies and non-profit organizations can grow their business and protect their reputation. All lectures will be held at PRMG’s Education and Training Center, located at 156 North Ocean Avenue in Patchogue.

On September 23, PRMG will host a PR and Marketing For Lawyers CLE course from 11:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. In this program, John C. Zaher, Esq., a leading attorney marketing expert, will review the attorney advertising rules and provide an overview of the tools needed to develop and implement a successful marketing program. Those in attendance will receive two CLE credit hours for Ethics & Professionalism. Registration is $65 in advance ($85 at the door) and includes lunch and materials.

The following presentations will provide those in attendance a multifaceted marketing approach to their organization, including an overview of strategic planning and research, Web development, search engine optimization (SEO), public relations, social media, marketing, advertising and more:

Competing with the Big Boxes (and Little Boxes) Without Going Broke: A Marketing Seminar For Retailers on October 4 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is $25 in advance, $35 at the door.

Non-Profits Need Marketing, Too: A Marketing Seminar for Non-Profits on October 14 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Registration is $25 in advance, $35 at the door.

Bring More Guests to Your Table: Marketing Strategies For Restaurants in Today’s Economy on November 1 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Registration is $25 in advance, $35 at the door.

Negative publicity on the Internet can cost businesses both money and customers. A strong online reputation management strategy is essential to the success of any organization in today’s business world. Getting Started with Reputation Management will provide an overview of a comprehensive reputation management strategy for business owners to monitor their online reputation, publish positive publicity, engage with their audience and take legal action if necessary. The presentation will be held October 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Registration is $15 in advance, $25 at the door.

Social media and the Web are essential components of any multifaceted strategy to make the most out of your business’ marketing efforts. Using Social Media and Web Marketing to Build Your Business will offer those in attendance with an overview of how to strengthen their business’ Web development and SEO, Web advertising efforts, social media presence and more. The presentation will be held October 21 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Registration is $25 in advance, $35 at the door.

It is imperative to include a marketing plan as part of a business plan and to budget funds for at least six months to a year. Starting a New Business: “If You Build It, They Won’t Necessarily Come” describes the steps PRMG recommends towards developing and implementing a cost-effective marketing plan for the new business owner. When starting a business, there is no room for error. This program, which be held on October 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., will review strategies that work. Registration is $15 in advance, $25 at the door.

Registration fees include breakfast or lunch. For more information, call (631) 207-1057, email: johnzaher@theprmg.com or visit www.theprmg.com.

# # #

About PRMG
Founded in 2002, The Public Relations and Marketing Group, LLC (PRMG) is a full-service public relations and marketing agency based in Patchogue, New York. PRMG is dedicated to helping businesses, professionals, non-profit organizations, government entities, attorneys and law firms leverage their time, talents and resources by using effective public relations and marketing techniques, as well as advertising, graphic design, website design and development, digital video production, website search optimization and social media. PRMG has launched a variety of website-based entities, including Long Island Policy Forum, PatMedNews, Dining Out Long Island and New York Lawyer Pages. For more information, call (631) 207-1057 or visit www.theprmg.com.

Marketing in a Recession Revisited

100951094

12 Tips to Help You Survive and Thrive in a Double Dip

I thought it might be helpful to revisit an article I wrote on the “Top 10 Tips for Marketing in a Recession” in January of 2009. While many of the suggestions still apply and I remain optimistic about the long-term prospects for the U.S. economy, I believe that the economy of today is the new normal in the face of a number of economic hurdles, including high unemployment, international financial unrest and a depression in the real estate market. It is my personal opinion that things won’t change significantly, at least until business confidence can be restored with the election of a new President and Congress in the Fall of 2012. These recommendations suggest that while it is necessary to market, you must do so with the idea of slowly maintaining and growing your business, while continuing to overcome a myriad of external challenges.

Starting a Business in a Recession — If you are thinking about starting a new business in a recession, you are not alone. Small businesses are often the greatest generators of new jobs. This is one of the reasons why the unemployment rate remains high in the United States. Often, when people are laid off, they take the opportunity to start their own business. However, think hard before you start a business, especially if it is a restaurant or a retailer. For example, the highly competitive restaurant industry sees 27% of restaurant startups fail within the first year, according to a 10-year study by Cornell University and Michigan State University. If you are looking to open a restaurant or retailer, make sure that your business will be unique and that you are confident that there will be a demand for your product or services. Think along the lines of necessities, including health care or products like coffee. For example, think of the Dunkin Donuts and 7-Eleven franchises. Another essential point to keep in mind is that before you start your new business, you must set aside plenty of money for marketing. For more information on this, read our article, “If You Build It, They Won’t Necessarily Come…

One of the first overall suggestions I can make is that when choosing whether or not to start a business in a recession, you must identify what the most profitable businesses are and which ones can give you the most competitive advantage. In a recession, consumers require value more than ever. Just look at Walmart, Target and McDonalds. These companies have done relatively well during the recession because of the value they offer consumers. However, there is an exception with high end luxury markets. Although these markets did take a hit early in the recession as real estate values and stock market portfolios declined, they did bounce back. If you can effectively market to wealthier geographies and demographics, you should do so. If your product is a necessity, for consumers or for businesses, then say it is and why it is. For example, Apple did very well during the recession because consumers viewed their products as necessities. Also, if you have products that appeal to children, then make sure you market them effectively. Parents will be more likely to self-sacrifice than to deprive their children, especially when it comes to their education, health and development.

1. Focus on Your Customers — If you already have a business or non-profit organization, focus on your current customers and clients. Continue to do what you can to keep your current customers returning and always make sure they are satisfied. If you are a retailer or restaurant, send your customers a gift card or special offer to show your appreciation. If you are a professional, hold the line on your rates, provide volume discounting or some other type of acknowledgement of their patronage. From a marketing perspective, you should periodically send your clients e-newsletters, newsletters, use direct mail and engage them in social media to communicate special offers or news to keep them in the loop. Your next step in marketing your current business should be to focus on your website because this is the online hub of information and content for your organization.

2. Develop Your Website — Since you may have extra time now, it is time to focus on your website. Ask yourself: What do I need to do to get higher search engine rankings? The answer is to make sure you have a strong public relations and content creation program, develop your website’s on-page optimization and utilize off-page optimization techniques. For more information on on-page optimization, read our article, “On-page Optimization and Keywords.” For off-page optimization tips, read our article, “No, We Can’t Get You Those Results Overnight.” One tip is to incorporate microsites into your Web strategy. Microsites are essential to maximizing your Web presence and boosting your organization’s search engine rankings. Consider building microsites for specific products or services that your company offers. To compliment your website, you may also decide to create a blog. You may need some development help, but once your blog is created and your new sites are set up, you can use your CMS system or Adobe Contribute for sites created in HTML to make changes yourself. The goal for your blog should be to develop excellent content that will compel visitors to return and share with others. We highly recommend providing downloadable content on your site that visitors will be willing to give up an email address or other contact information for.

For more information on developing your website, read our article, “A Practical Guide to Developing Effective Websites.”
For valuable tips on Web optimization, download our free guide, “Web Optimization Tips.”
You can view examples of websites that The Public Relations and Marketing Group has created on behalf of its clients here.

3. Build Your Social Media Presence — It is crucial to share your content and communicate with your audience on appropriate social media platforms. Communicating with friends and followers through social media will help build your networks and engage your current customers. If you’re just starting out with social media, focus on the big three: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If your business is B2C, focus your efforts more on Facebook and Twitter. For B2B companies, LinkedIn should be your first priority. Developing a strong presence on social media websites does require time but it can prove to be an extremely cost-effective way to market your business, which is especially helpful during rough economic times. For example, create a Facebook fan page for your company to communicate with customers and share photos and news. Twitter, the immensely popular micro-blogging network, is an excellent communication outlet to send short messages to a huge audience. LinkedIn is a professional networking site that allows users to rapidly build their connections, browse and post job offerings and share industry expertise with other professionals in their field. Determine which of these social networking sites you should devote your time to and build a strong presence there.

Beginners can learn how to create a social media presence for their business by reading our article, “Getting Started with Social Media.”
For more information on building a strong presence on Facebook, read our article, “10 Steps to Getting the Most Out of Facebook.”
To learn how to make the most of your Twitter account, read our article, “Secrets to Twitter Marketing.”
For more information on using LinkedIn effectively, read our article, “Making the Right Connections with LinkedIn.”

4. Network — Old-fashioned networking may also help you build professional contacts and reach potential clients at low cost. If you are a professional, attend networking events in your industry and other trade groups where you may find prospective clients. To demonstrate your position as an expert in your field, professionals can hold original lectures, in-house if possible, to keep costs lower. Retailers and restaurants can hold product demonstrations or workshops. Always promote these events to the public using press releases, social media and e-blasts.

Everything up to this point can be done at low cost. However, often this may not be enough and you will also need to advertise to successfully market your business. In a recession, it is often cheaper to advertise and you may have more leverage. However, always keep in mind that you should never advertise in something solely because it is cheap or within your budget. It is always better to spend more on something that is more likely to work for you. For example, your organization may benefit from targeted ads placed in print outlets, on the Web, through email or on television.

5. Focus Your Print Advertising — When using traditional print advertising outlets, make sure that you have the budget to sustain your advertising efforts. If you have a local business, consider using D-Cards and high visibility print ads. To ensure that your advertisements are reaching the right audience, micro-target your ads by placing them in specialty publications. For example, you may want to target a local community by using the front pages of Pennysavers or local newspapers, as well as D-Cards. If your services or products appeal to a specific trade group or demographic, consider specialty publications that service that group. If you need to advertise in a daily newspaper, be sure to put together a catchy ad that is in a high visibility location. In addition, Newsday’s daily deals are often good for retailers and those in the hospitality industry.

6. Target Your Web Advertising — For those on a budget, I would strongly recommend using Web advertising. As studies repeatedly show, more and more people are turning to online sources when searching for products, services or information. This is why Web advertising is so important when marketing your business. Popular Web advertising outlets include Google AdWords, social media ads, landing pages and daily deal websites.

7. Use Google AdWords — Google AdWords lets you create and run text, display or video ads for your business with a custom budget. This is good for marketers on a budget because you will only pay if someone clicks on your advertisement. These ads are displayed under “Sponsored Links” beside search results when someone searches Google using one of your listed keywords. Google AdWords is so effective because you are advertising to an audience who is already interested in what you have to offer.

8. Advertise with Social Media — Social media websites offer highly quantifiable and cost-effective advertisements. Like Google AdWords, you will only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Through social media advertising, you can control your budget, build fans, drive traffic to your website and micro-target based on user demographics, gender, age and interests. For B2C companies, use Facebook Ads to reach your audience. Facebook is able to micro-target based on what users have listed as interests. For B2B organizations, LinkedIn advertising can be effective. LinkedIn offers rich display and text ads that can reach millions of active business professionals. LinkedIn advertising is unique because it can target based on job title.
To learn more about Facebook advertising, read our article, “Interest-Based Advertising.”

9. Create Landing Pages — A landing page is a single Web page that appears in response to a reader clicking on an advertisement. A landing page is little more than a Web page that contains specific content and can be used as part of an effective Web advertising campaign. When used in a Web advertising campaign, landing pages should provide access to your entire website but the goal here is for the visitor to interact with the content on the page. By offering downloadable content, you provide your audience valuable material in exchange for their contact information. This will help you generate business leads and build your email lists. For more information on landing pages, read our article, “Five Steps to Generating New Business through Web Advertising, Landing Pages and Emails.”

10. Use Daily Deals Websites — Daily deals websites and phone applications are immensely popular, especially for those with smart phones. These websites and phone apps cater to a vast audience that is interested in obtaining new deals and visiting new venues. Daily deal marketing services such as Groupon and LivingSocial collect users’ email addresses and send them a featured email every day, offering a heavily discounted deal from a local business. Recipients may buy the coupon, redeem it at the local business and get the product or service they paid for. For example, on Groupon, you and the daily deal site will split the revenues from coupon sales and you will pay nothing upfront to Groupon. Running ad campaigns on sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial can prove to be hugely beneficial in attracting customers to your business, especially if you are in the restaurant or hospitality industry or offer some kind of service to your guests.

11. Use Take-Over Emails — Your business can benefit by using take-over emails in your email advertising strategy. Take-over emails allow you to take advantage of another organization’s broad email list. For example, Newsday and other publications offer take-over emails for $50 per thousand, meaning they will send out your email for you to their audience. When creating your email advertisement, make sure that the most important information appears at the top, under the fold of the email, and that you have a compelling title that will encourage your readers to read more. Include links to landing pages, your website, social media profiles and contact information.
To learn more about email advertising and take-over emails, read our article, “Web Ads, E-newsletters and Take-over Emails.”

12. Advertise on Television — Sometimes, you may need to reach large numbers of people in a short time frame. Under these circumstances, I would highly recommend considering television advertising. When advertising on television, it is important to narrow your target audience by using specific programming. Consider upcomers like FiOS, for example. If you are looking to reach businesspeople or wealthier viewers, consider advertising on CNBC or news channels. If your business’ product or service is catered to women, choose to advertise on channels such as Lifetime, WE or HGTV.

“If You Build It,” They Won’t Necessarily Come…2/3

Collateral Marketing Materials

Now that your website is up, you can now turn to putting together some marketing materials. Using your logo, set up and print business cards with your website, e-mail and other contact information on them. You’ll also need to set up letterhead, but more and more businesses are using Word documents and color laser printers to print letters as needed. You will also need to print envelopes; however, considering the difficulty some laser printers have with printing envelopes, you may consider purchasing envelopes. Use an online printer such as Vistaprint or PrintPlace. You should also consider putting together a brochure at this point. You can place it on your site as a PDF download, e-mail it and use it during your initial marketing programs. You may also want to consider purchasing presentation folders. These are good to use when providing proposals and other information to prospective clients or to provide to clients to hold your information in.

Contacts

One of the first steps you want to take when starting a business is to pull your relevant contact information together. In fact, many entrepreneurs begin collecting contact information about prospective clients and customers long before they go out on their own. You’ll need to do some research to determine the best system for you. Will Microsoft Outlook and Access be sufficient to create your databases when used in conjunction with an e-mail program such as Constant Contact or StreamSend? Will you use your Point of Sale software? Do you need an online system such as Salesforce.com? The contacts you have made are likely going to be your first customers or clients and your best referral sources. You want to create an easy system from which to mail, fax, e-mail, and engage them. Especially for those engaged in a business to business (B2B) field, you’ll need to consider what types of databases and e-mail lists you want to purchase and how you will work with that information.

 

Social Media

Which social media platforms are best for you? Key in on the big three: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. As a rule of thumb, if you are a retailer or have a business that provides services that anyone can use, then make Facebook your first priority. If you are primarily involved in B2B or provide professional services relying on referrals, then start with LinkedIn. Twitter can be very effective for restaurants and retailers to communicate microblogs to followers and to re-distribute e-newsletters to wider audiences. Upload your contacts with LinkedIn to invite others to connect with you and use the search function on Facebook to make friends and on Twitter to follow others, who will often then follow you.

 

Press Release on Business Launch and Grand Opening

Once you open your doors and are ready to do business and have built your online presence with your website, blog and social media, it’s time to do a press release announcing your new business. The press release should draw upon your branding strategy, describe its uniqueness and the customer needs it seeks to address. It should be targeted to business reporters, trade publications, local newspapers and online sites that allow you to post press releases, such as PRLog. The release should be optimized with keywords linking back to your website and your domain included. As the release gets published online, this will help to build backlinks, usually with sites with high authority, helping to build page ranking. If you have a retail establishment, restaurant or sizable space in an office building, consider a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony. It is often better for restaurants to be open for a period of time, at least a month or two, so that staff can be adequately trained and the kinks worked out before sending out a press release and holding a grand opening, as these will also often invite reviews which you will want to score well on. Use a PR firm or a service such as Marketwire to distribute your release.

 

Low-Cost Initial Marketing Strategies

You are now doing business. To this point, depending on how much your website cost and whether you had a grand opening, you probably spent between $5,000 and $10,000 on marketing. Now it’s time to be proactive and start getting the word out. For new businesses especially, you want to go after the lowest hanging fruit, bringing the greatest return on your investment at first.
Look at your contacts and prospect lists that you may have pulled together or purchased. Start by sending an introductory letter with your brochure or another direct mail piece to your contacts and prospects. You can do the same using e-mail and include links to your website and a link to download the brochure. By using an e-mail program such as StreamSend, you’ll be able to track who opened and clicked through to your site, or downloaded your brochure. You’ll be able to use this information to prioritize follow up.

After your introductory mail and e-mail has been sent out, you’ll want to regularly communicate via e-mail using e-newsletters. Use the content you develop to update your website and communicate via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Consider purchasing additional contact lists or using Chamber of Commerce, published association and other prospect lists. Continue to track your click-through activity and develop materials to send to prospects. For professionals, consider making follow-up phone calls, e-mails or further engage using social media. Unfortunately, not everyone will get your e-mails or open them. Consider supplementing e-mails with regular direct mail or newsletters to your current customers and prospects.

At this point, you are probably also doing some traditional networking at appropriate venues that put you in front of prospective customers. For this, it is often more effective to go to their events, conferences, etc. in your targets rather than general chamber or other public events. Consider taking tables at conferences and sponsoring lectures. You may also want to develop a lecture or webinar for your prospective clients. Some professionals require continuing education. Look into whether your lecture can get accreditation. You may even be able to charge for attendance.

If You Build It, They Won’t Necessarily Come: Part 1

If You Build It, They Won’t Necessarily Come: Part 3

“If You Build It,” They Won’t Necessarily Come…3/3

Implementing an Advertising Strategy

You are doing everything low cost that you are supposed to do. However, it may not be enough. It may be time to start advertising. For all forms of advertising, it is helpful to ask these questions when developing an advertising campaign:
• Who are our current customers or clients?• What percentage of our customers/clients lives within a certain geographic areas?
• What percentage of our customers/clients falls into our various business areas?
• What is their age range?
• Are they male or female?
• Where do most of our current clients come from?
o Do they come from ads?
o Do they come from referrals?
o Do they come from street traffic?
o Do they come from the web?
• Who is our targeted audiences?
• Who should be our customers/clients but aren’t?
• How much money do we have to spend?
• What form(s) of advertising are our targets most likely to be exposed to?

Once you answered these questions, here are some strategic considerations
If your customers or clients come primarily from referrals, then consider:
• Trade publications
• Direct marketing to membership lists
• Participation in professional organizations and their events.

If your clients come from a wide geographic area, then consider TV or radio advertising. If from a narrower geographic area, then consider local newspaper advertising, direct mail, D-Cards, ad word and social media advertising.

One of the best places to start advertising is on the Web. Use Google AdWords and other search engines to create an advertising campaign at a budget level you are comfortable with. Create landing pages corresponding with your ads that include a method, such as downloadable content or a coupon, to collect e-mail addresses. Set this form to dump the contact information into your e-mail distribution program. You can set up triggers to provide automatic follow-up to these new prospects and begin to send them your regular e-mails and e-newsletters.
If you are in the restaurant or retail business, you may also consider advertising on Facebook to build more contacts. Like Google AdWords, Facebook ads only require the advertiser to pay for the number of times an ad is clicked-through. (On Facebook, you can pay for impressions or clicks. However, we recommend only paying for click-throughs.) In order to purchase Facebook ads, your organization must have a Facebook business page, which is different than a personal page and is entitled to different privileges, while operating under different limitations. It is crucial to familiarize yourself or your dedicated staff member with Facebook’s terms of use so that you are not found to have violated the terms, which could result in your page being taken down and your email address banned from the site.

You may also want to consider “take over” e-mails or prominent ads on other organizations’ e-mail blasts that link to your landing pages. While these are more expensive than ad word campaigns, they more closely target your audience and provide faster results.

OK, we’ve done the web-based lower cost advertising; it may also make sense to engage in some targeted traditional advertising. Here are some strategies tailored for your business type:

Retail

• D-Cards, front page advertising in local Pennysavers and advertising papers. It is better to have a less frequent, more prominent ad.
• Direct mail to your demographic group in your geographic proximity. You may be able to send the same pieces to your current customers.
• Print advertising in specialty publications specific for your demographic, as well as web-based display advertising on sites that provide significant traffic and can show click-through statistics for other advertisers.
• Prominent ads in daily newspapers in sections read by your targeted audience. It’s better to have a less frequent, more prominent ad in a daily newspaper. The dailies still get better results than weekly or monthly publications that have low readership.
• TV – While requiring a bigger budget, we have found TV to still be one of the most cost-effective advertising vehicles, over newspapers, magazines and radio.
• Radio – Most radio stations have gift certificate programs, providing trade opportunities. Consider radio to help promote a grand opening event.

Restaurants

• Use D-Cards, front covers and other prominent ads in shopper publications.
• Advertise to your demographic in Facebook.
• Constantly work to build your local contact list, collect comment cards, business cards, e-mails. Send out weekly specials. Use “take-over” e-mails and consider prominent ads in other’s e-mails.
• Put a high priority on press releases and be sure to register with all the online restaurant directories.
• If you can limit your target audiences more closely, then consider direct mail.
• Send catering and lunch specials information to local businesses. Consider going door to door with cookies and coupons or gift certificates to bring in the local business community.

 

Professionals

• As described above, professionals should concentrate on referral sources, B2B direct mail and e-mail, and follow up based on click-through activity, along with traditional and social media networking.
• Professionals should put a high priority on article writing and using this content to publish in trade publications, mail to prospects and include in e-mails. Use this content to engage others in forums and on blogs.
• If you are a professional that services the general public, then consider specialty publications and television advertising. If you serve a smaller geographic area, then consider D-Cards and other prominent local advertising.

If You Built It, They Won’t Necessarily Come: Part 1

If You Build It, They Won’t Necessarily Come: Part 2