So Many Choices, So Little Time

Marketing and PR, in the very simplest terms, are about delivering the most important message about your business to the right audiences in the most direct way possible.  Those audiences are – obviously – your customers and prospects but may also include investors, your current and future employees, analysts, alliance partners, industry influencers, resellers, channel partners, trade associations and so on.  Given all the various groups you need to reach and the multitude of communications methods available to you, how do you choose what to communicate to whom…and when and how?

There are lots of choices but resources are almost always limited.  Ultimately, success depends on getting really disciplined about prioritization.  In most instances, focusing on customers is the #1 priority for any business.   Within that category, it makes most sense to focus on those most likely to buy from you, as well as current customers who potentially can buy more from you.

But, as many of our start-up clients can attest, it’s very easy to become distracted.  Many tell us they spend 2-3 times the amount of time (and resources) communicating with their investors, when they KNOW they should be spending just as much effort on customer marketing and PR.  Unfortunately prioritization often works better on paper than in practice!

So how do you really prioritize your efforts, given the multiple messages to multiple audiences that you need to reach? Here are three tips to help you stay the course.

  1. Create a communications matrix.  This is a grid that lists all audiences you need to reach down the left column and key messages, key communication vehicles and a timeline listed across the top.  The purpose is to have a simple, “at-a-glance” document that indicates to whom you are communicating using what tools (newsletter, email, twitter, etc.) and how often.  Perhaps most importantly, it ensures that your messages are also aligned across all audiences so you are not, for example, saying one thing to investors and another to employees about the company’s future.  (A big “bad” in our book!)
  2. Track your hours.   If you are spending more time chasing partnerships at the expense of talking to your best clients, something is wrong.  If you track billable time monthly, track your hours spent marketing/doing PR and business development activities by category of audience.  This is a great reality check to see how you are allocating your resources…and to assess where you need to rein yourself in.
  3. Seek out “adult supervision”. This term was aptly coined by one client when describing the practice of entrusting someone with an objective viewpoint to keep you on track in the event you veer off the grid (see #1 above) in your communications. Make sure that person receives every single message you send out to each of your audiences.  Ask him/her to be your auditor and not only critique the frequency and messages you send but also evaluate the overall “mix” of communications.

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