Take a step back to move forward
12 April 2012There's no better time to step back and examine your communications from a fresh perspective. Vivid Director Caroline Rawlinson looks at the best way to do that.
While some of us have just moved into a new financial year, for others it's the second quarter of a new year. Whatever your situation, there’s no better time to take a step back and examine your public relations from a fresh perspective. For many that process may well have started as a result of outside influencers with the economic downturn forcing a re-appraisal of plans and budgets. But, be honest with yourself, how much of that is a re-adjustment and tinkering at the edges as opposed to a full-blown re-appraisal?
It takes guts and a lot of support from your colleagues to honestly re-evaluate what you are doing because it may challenge long-held assumptions and unsettle vested interests. But all around you the world of business has changed and will continue to change so you need to stay ahead of the game.
Having said that don’t change for change’s sake. Start by doing your research and asking customers and clients why they do business with you and perhaps ask others who don’t buy from you why that is. Both quantitative and qualitative research is good to get an accurate picture but it doesn’t have to be a major undertaking. You can set up an online questionnaire very quickly with services like Survey Monkey and chatting to half a dozen customers will enable you to explore themes thrown up by the quantitative research. There is little doubt that the buying process for many will have changed in the past two to three years and what was once important may have slipped down the priority scale, while other considerations may have moved up. Take nothing as sacred and prepare to be challenged.
Once you know how you need to position your organisation you must examine that all important branding. There’s a lot written about the subject and it’s not often you peel back the layers to truly re-examine your organisation’s DNA. I’ve found a great report that I think will help in that process. Branding expert Isabel Gainford has authored a 30 page work of art called ‘How to give yourself a compelling brand’. The seven big branding blunders in particular can make slightly uncomfortable reading but it’s a great source of counsel and advice. Find it here www.isabelgainford.com
Right, branding’s sorted so you just need to communicate it! Again take nothing for granted. Re-examine all your organisation’s touch points and again find out from your customers how they’d like to be contacted and where they find out the information about products and services like yours. It’s probably going to be a combination of ways but by far the most persuasive will probably be the recommendation or advice of a colleague or friend. At the moment there doesn’t seem to be the time to trawl the market so you need to work your ambassadors and let them know what you’d like them to do. Social media channels such as Linked In, Twitter and Facebook help you to perform this function on-line but don’t just rely on the virtual world. Get out and about and be visible and you’ll stay in the forefront of people’s minds.
Sometimes there’s no substitute from simply taking a step back to help you move forwards. It’s not a sign of failure it’s just an acknowledgement that the world has changed and you, for one, aren’t sitting back; you’re going to make things happen!