Having spent most of my life writing people’s stories as a journalist or helping people build their profiles as public relations professionals, I’ve seen how effective having a strategy and a plan can be. A carefully considered profile-building strategy can elicit so many business benefits, including securing more clients and being positioned as a thought leader.
I’ve also heard many and varied reasons why people in business don’t take the time to put a strategy in place. From not feeling as if they have the skills to create a plan to being uncomfortable in the spotlight, these are the businesses that feel like they are the best-kept secret. Except for the entrepreneurial unicorns that create the next big app or niche product or service, most of us have to rely on good old-fashioned marketing and PR to get in front of our target audience.
Without an action plan in place, it’s almost impossible to keep up with all the channels and platforms, messages and opportunities out there for businesses to stand out from the crowd. With so much competition out there, the name of the game is traction, leverage and content volume, all wrapped up in a plan of attack.
With this cacophony of marketing messages and noise, standing out as a brand has to start with abandoning ego, fears and a lack of belief in one’s skills and abilities. Adam Nobel, principal of Hugo Alexander Property Group, used to think his tireless work ethic, great customer service and success record were enough to stand out. “My team and I have always been quiet over-achievers, and during Covid-19 realised if we are to stand out among the many real estate agencies out there, we have to get serious about our PR,” he said.
Working alongside Adam Nobel, Rebecca Fuchs, a global guru in client experience and business growth, explained, “To stand out, we had to define who our target clients are, what our brand’s unique value proposition is to match our clients’ needs and wants, and then wrote a media and marketing plan that incorporated the core brand messages and channels for our prospective clients. The channels ranged from Facebook and Youtube to industry websites and Google. We updated our bios and website to make our ‘virtual shop front’ more impressive, and started pitching our articles to the media and entered awards. And it worked.”
The best way to work out if you are making your mark is to see how “Googlicious” you are, or how you show up in Google searches. The goal is to dominate the searches under your keywords. Think about it: What is the first thing most people do when they go looking for someone who has your skills or products? They likely conduct an internet search. We humans mostly buy based on emotion. The good old limbic system controls our emotions and makes sure those who show up frequently and consistently win the hearts and dollars of prospective buyers. People do business with people. If you’re the best-kept secret, how can people know you exist?
To kick off your brand-building planning, search for yourself. Not the philosophical search, but the online search and social media platform searches. How do you show up? Do you have heaps of content online organically driving people to your “shopfront,” or is it like a drought with tumbleweeds blowing past every now and then?
This is where planning comes in. PR is all about content and pushing that content out to media and other content channels. Creating a content calendar will ensure you’re never stumped for content ideas. To work out what to write or post about, hold a brainstorming session starting with the problems you solve and the frequently asked questions you receive from clients. Then, do a Google search on your keywords, hangout in HARO or SourceBottle for a few weeks to see what journalists are looking for, and talk to your customers and clients about what they would love to learn from and about you.
Map ideas out visually in a calendar.
There are great tools like Canva to do this. Adam Nobel said when he did this process, it helped crystalize the mountain of value ready to be shared with real estate investors and homeowners across Australia. “Many in our industry are more tell than show,. I saw this process as a great opportunity to communicate our industry-leading knowledge, and demonstrate our track record helping our clients grow their wealth faster. The media planning reinforced my team’s confidence in our experience, expertise and how we could leverage them to create blogs and media releases regularly,” he said.
Use the power of leverage.
The genius of a brand-building plan that incorporates media, blogging, social media and awards is the power of leverage. Factor into your plan how you’ll leverage your wins, what you’ll put on social media, where you’ll share your logos and how you’ll repurpose your existing content.
Repurposing is your best friend. If you can come up with four content ideas a month, you can turn them into more than 40 other pieces of content to share on social media platforms, websites and newsletters. Begin by picking one blog you have written, pull out stand alone quotes you can use to create separate social media tiles. You should be able to create at least seven social media posts from this one blog. Replicate this across four blogs month and you have your social media covered.
Any win gives you third-party bragging rights. (The best kind of bragging rights are the ones you didn’t pay for.) “We went from not wanting to be in the spotlight and never entering any awards, taking the time to regularly write and plan our way forward. We’ve had many media wins and made either the finals or won every award, even winning gold internationally for the best small real estate agency.” Adam Nobel said.
The key to building a well-known, well-paid and wanted brand is consistency and persistence. A plan is only as good as the person who is acting on it. Leaving it to gather dust on a shelf will not grow your profile. You have to do something every day or at least every week to stand out and be heard.