Internet use has experienced a major paradigm shift these past few months. According to a recent New York Times article, users now spend more time on social media sites than they do on e-mail. Now that social networks have risen to the status of a primary mode of communicating ideas and information, it is the perfect time to harness that potential and make social media work for your business.
As a business, you don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. Don't overlook the importance of public relations efforts that utilize social media – jump right in and experiment with sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr. These provide a free online forum, a way for you to reach clients you might not otherwise find.
New media should not be intimidating. Your Facebook company page or Twitter profile don't have to look glamorous. Just get started, get out there. Having delved right into the social media machine in our business, I recommend spending one-third of your time paying some attention to social media, growing those networks. The rewards will make it worth the effort.
At Publicity Works, we recently hired a content manager with a reporting background. About 75 percent of her job is dedicated to working in social media for our company and our clients. As a result, we've experienced significant growth, in both client leads and attention for our company.
By staying informed of changing technology and ways that social media can aid the growth of any business, we've positioned ourselves as experts in our industry. Social networking shouldn't be a wait-and-see endeavor. There is no reason to put it off for another day. Just because Facebook is free, don't assume it has no value. The payoff will be noticeable.
You will find that social networking adds a new layer of transparency to your business. It allows you to obtain feedback about your business in real time. You can connect personally and authentically with your clientele, who will appreciate the opportunity to pose questions or comments to you through Twitter, as long as you reply.
Participation is the key to pay-off. Make social media a discipline of your own business. Don't be afraid to jump into the pool.
• Social media – just do it. Commit yourself to this influential mode of communication.
• Dedicate one-third of your time to working your social networks for your business.
• Consider it a tool to measure how your business is progressing, and to reach new customers.
Case Study: 2Mission Design and Development
Successful entrepreneurs have a knack for embracing the bigger picture and carving out new opportunities by fostering the business relationships they already have. In business, relationships are commerce. Quality service creates dependency, which ultimately leads to growth. Publicity Works has experienced significant growth by focusing on the synergy between relationships and service.
Our work with 2Mission Design and Development in Ann Arbor began as a smaller project. It has since expanded, one project at a time, into a major statewide endeavor for our agency. This is just one example of how businesses can benefit from building strong relationships. By going the extra mile – even on smaller projects – and focusing on the bigger picture, you can grow your company at the same time. Look beyond the immediate payout and commit to long-term potential.
Jon Carlson and Greg Lobdell, founders of 2Mission, initially expressed interest in hiring our agency years before the group had secured a location for its multi-concept restaurant and nightlife project. That project would become a Royal Oak landmark, the Bastone Complex, including Bastone, Vinotecca, Café Habana and Commune.
Several years later, 2Mission managers took notice of our agency again after we completed a successful launch for one of their competitors, Melange in Ann Arbor. By garnering international media attention and creating a buzz that expanded beyond the restaurant's opening, the Ann Arbor-based development company recognized the potential for their own venues. As a result, in 2008, we were formally hired to promote the Bastone Complex in Royal Oak.
The project involved re-introducing Bastone to a market where restaurant competition was and is fierce. In September, we re-focused public attention on Bastone as a brewery and highlighted the international award-winning efforts of brew master Rockne Van Meter.
Furthermore, Publicity Works partnered with Ambassador magazine to reintroduce Commune, a previously overshadowed space that has become a French Belle Epoch-inspired destination. Our strong relationship with the magazine helped to draw a new crowd to Commune that may not have otherwise discovered the nightlife venue.
The Bastone Complex project proved that success breeds more success. While Publicity Works still maintains a varied group of clients, in early 2009, 2Mission signed the agency on to duplicate those efforts statewide with three of its Ann Arbor-based venues: Café Habana, Grizzly Peak, Blue Tractor, and destination restaurant Bowers Harbor Inn in Traverse City.
Publicity Works proved to be a perfect fit for the project because of the connections we had built and the strong ties we maintain with members of the media. Those ties span from Detroit to Ann Arbor to northern Michigan and extend to national food, lifestyle and entertainment media outlets. Publicity Works transformed one project into seven, each with specific needs and goals, across the state.
The expansion of these business opportunities grew organically and allowed the agency to broaden its sphere of influence. Diversification of our own clientele required a broadening of our skill set. As new opportunities presented themselves, the agency was prepared to deliver the individualized results those clients needed.
What began in our own backyard expanded to a statewide reach. I believe we owe this, in great part, to the relationships we have built, both in the business community and with the media itself. After all, relationships are commerce.
Our media relationships extend beyond restaurant critics and feature reporters. We have connections with business editors, lifestyle writers and bloggers. As the media hooks expanded, so did the possibilities for placements in print, online, radio and television outlets. Publicity Works was better-positioned to serve our clients and our clientele continued to grow.
In any industry, relationships can make or break your business. When it comes to connections with the media, treat the media as a client. Treat reporters as you would your most important client and you'll be viewed as a helpful resource.
Don't simply aim to achieve your client's goals, work to exceed expectations and to anticipate and solve problems before they happen. When you create that kind of added value, business partners automatically call on you when work becomes available. Focus on providing a valuable service that clients grow to depend on, and, you will find, the work will follow.
- In any business, relationships are your commerce
- Excellent service creates dependence; dependence grows additional business and solidifies customer loyalty
- Treat all business partners – media, vendors, even employees – as you would your clients.
- Always share relevant information and you will automatically position yourself as an expert.
If Metro Detroit businesses can learn anything from the current state of the economy, it will be the necessity of diversification. Detroit and the suburbs have long reveled in the status of The Motor City. For decades, a majority of our workforce invested its time and skills into building the automotive industry. In its heyday, we all prospered from this investment. It seemed every Southeast Michigan business had some connection to the success of the Big Three.
As the industry Detroiters so diligently built erodes, the current conditions reaffirm the importance of diversification. Michigan businesses can no longer afford to invest solely in a single client or industry sector if they hope to survive.
Unfortunately, the current state of the economy forces us to take a closer look at this issue. In any client service-driven business, allowing one client, organization or industry to drive your business model only serves to place you in a precarious position.
A one-dimensional business faces a constant threat that the primary client will leave – and can leave for reasons beyond your control. Such a situation promotes an inherent weakness, and places the company at serious risk. In most cases, it becomes more difficult for business owners to look at the bigger picture when they are engulfed in the day-to-day maintenance of one client and its whims.
There is a universal law that applies in business: Change is the only constant. It has to be ingrained in any successful business model or corporate structure. It must be embraced by leadership and by employees.
By accepting the forces of change and being willing to adapt to new situations and new challenges, you're opening yourself up for opportunities to grow your business and provide more value to existing clients.
At Publicity Works, our purpose is to serve our clients and help them grow their businesses. We must also consider how these clients impact our growth. With each new project or client that requires a new area of expertise, we've strengthened connections and found opportunities in new industries.
By welcoming change and making diversification a daily business practice, it is possible to weather, even thrive, regardless of the economic climate.