Let's start with knowing your target audience. Do you know WHO you want to reach? Sometimes when I ask clients this question, I get a response of, "Everyone!" Though I love the enthusiasm, it's important to be more specific. Are you targeting 18-34 year-olds? Women, men, kids? Those who live in a certain town? The more specific you are, the more specific your messaging can be. If it does encompass the public as a whole, still make an effort to narrow your focus so your messaging can be spot-on. Ask yourself, "Who am I trying to reach and what is it I want to tell them about my business?" Which brings me to my next point regarding messaging.
"What's my message?" Knowing what to say and how to say it is one of the toughest parts of marketing and PR. Ever hear the expression of an "elevator speech?" It's when you have to say what it is you do in 10 seconds or less. It's not as easy as it sounds. The goal isn't to just say your title and where you work... but what it is you DO. I recall this instance with one of my clients in which I spoke to six employees about the company to try to gain background information. Every single one struggled to tell me what the company did! I'm not kidding - they really didn't know, and if they did, I got completely different answers, making it sound like all of them worked for different organizations. It was no wonder they did not have a clear or cohesive corporate identity.
For instance, my elevator speech might go something like this: "My business is promote other businesses. My job is focused on helping organizations to stand out from the competition in unique and creative ways in order to maximize their name recognition within their respective industry." Notice I didn't just say, "I'm a PR professional with over 20 years of experience....blah, blah, blah." What does that really tell you about me? Not a whole lot, especially if you don't know what PR is (and many people don't). Instead, I described what I did for a living. This is where you can start with your business. Why should people come to you? How are you infinitely better than the competition? What do you want them to learn that is most important? What makes you unique? Once you've decided, try to make the messaging short and sweet - and memorable. Remember my motto: Show what you know, don't just tell what you sell. Educate people about what you do and they will remember, but if you throw in unnecessary generic statements, you will quickly be forgotten.
Lastly, try different things at different times. This is SO important, I can't stress that enough. For instance, if you did a mailer that yielded zero results in getting new clients, that doesn't mean you should never do another mailing. It could mean that the messaging wasn't clear or strong enough to motivate your audience to take action. It could mean that mailers may not be the best approach for your business and that it may be time to take it to another platform. The same holds true for social media. Not all businesses translate to Pintrest or FaceBook. That viral video that got a million views may have worked for the local gym, but might not translate to the same success for a dentist. Don't be afraid to do two things: regroup and reassess. I firmly believe in the saying you can't know where you're going until you've known where you've been. The same holds true for a campaign. While it's important to spend some time on what you think may the be reason it didn't work, once you have an idea, try, try again.