As a communications professional, you’ve probably invested a lot of time in learning new technologies and building your networks on social. There are many ways to learn more about how to improve your efforts and meet your goals, far too many to ever complete. You spend time researching, reading, attending webinars, downloading ebooks, reading blogs, and more. It’s no wonder, you want to learn from others who have gone before you and came back with compelling results before trying it for your clients and customers, right?
Here’s the problem: best is often the enemy of good. In PR (especially rapid response), if you wait too long for an opportunity, someone else will seize it while you’re left out in the cold. If you wait for the case study of the industry leading best practices, then the case study will not be you.
At some point, we have to stop learning and start doing. Reading about how to put together an IKEA cabinet is a great first step, but in order for it to become useful, you have to actually put the thing together.
Here are 6 things you can do right now to stop hesitating and start doing something to move your program forward.
1. Tell the story. Why is one business so different from all the other businesses in its respective vertical? What makes it different? What makes them tick? And why should they hire ABC rather than XYZ? If you don’t know the story you or your clients want to tell, how can you maximize the PR and marketing efforts? Pick a story, start telling it and see who responds to it.
2. Test. Websites, links, buttons, view social profiles as a visitor, and make sure that everything works. Click on things. I promise that button on the website won’t make things explode. Test links. Test to see how the website looks in different browsers. Test the forms. When you get everything right, dig into A/B testing to see what makes visitors happier. Clients often see their site from their point of view, they need fresh eyes and will be grateful for the extra time you took and the advice you’ve given.
(Editor disclaimer: If you click the button that does make something explode, I’m in no way responsible.)
3. Every day, simplify the one thing you want people to do. Every business has a call to action. Selling, raising money, raising awareness, and/or sharing information. Help visitors find that thing they’re supposed to do easily. Big, red (not literally) and loud works. Your communications, from your website to social media to even the humble press release, can look amazing and be clear at the same time.
4. Think locally. Online marketing is a fabulous thing, but local groups, meet-ups, networking and other events can help introduce you to people that are local, help grow your network and boost audiences. Target the local market by interacting where customers find businesses in the area (Google+, Yelp, etc.). Find a way to connect with people and answer their questions. Even if a business is global, finding local customers is still possible and good for the community.
5. As SHIFT CEO Todd Defren often says, bullets before cannonballs. If you’re hesitant to try something new because of fear of screwing up, figure out the smallest possible version of your idea that will still deliver an impact. Try that first. Not sure the nationwide PR stunt will work? What’s the smallest test you can do? Do that first.
6. Be extraordinary. As Chris Brogan says, if you can’t be extraordinary, be helpful. Do the unexpected. Monitor social channels and reach out if you have knowledge that will help. Offer customers a reward simply for being your customer. When you’re extraordinary, it makes you sticky. Sticky in a world full of businesses in your industry can be the best thing to boost awareness.
It’s now time to stop thinking and start doing. Stalling runs the risk of the knowledge becoming stale before you have a chance to implement. Learn more and expand your understanding of how to build a better business through online marketing.
Account Manager, Marketing Technology
Photo credit: Barron Aviation