6 Keys to Good Networking

MP900382854Regardless of business endeavor, meeting people and making new acquaintances is an increasingly important job skill.  Good networking forges relationships that are mutually helpful and beneficial whether or not one is involved in market research, market planning, public relations, advertising, sales or any other related activity that involves meeting people and expanding business contacts.

Despite its obvious importance, it is often the least well-implemented tool in a marketer’s kit.  Reasons for that vary, but experts say many people simply find it difficult to meet strangers and “ask for the sale” – whether that be a referral, recommendation, direction – or the actual sale.

Numerous sales training professionals have programs and methods to help people develop better networking skills, and nearly all have some elements in common.  Here are six basic keys to better networking:

Be Precise & Have an Objective

Ask for the result you want.  Don’t leave it to chance that a contact is going to surmise your need – and willingly provide exactly what you need.  Of course you don’t ask for something that’s beyond what someone you’ve just met will provide, but ask yourself: “Why are you networking and what would you like to achieve?”

Keep it simple.  You’re meeting people for the first time, so keep it light but focused.  If you have a typical profile in mind – then seek it.  If there’s a particular company exec you would like to meet – then seek contacts who can facilitate that eventual meeting.

Determine Who Can Help

Who can help you with your objective?  Does the person have the ability to make the connection, or can he or she lead to someone who can?  Are they willing to do so?

A common mistake people make is to exceed the capacity of a new contact’s willingness to help – or “over-ask.”  So don’t.  Instead, get to know the person.  Ask questions about them, their interests, and if they know anyone else at the event.

Align Your “Ask” to Their Capability

If the person can’t directly lead you to your objective, determine what they CAN lead you to.  Remember you’re networking – so network.  A new contact might not be able to help you today – but perhaps they can tomorrow.

You should also be contacting regularly – and a person who might not be able to help you just might be in a position to assist someone you know, or vice-versa.  Networking is a 2-way street, so good networkers look for opportunities to help others.

Ask for What You Need

At this point, you’ve learned a little about them.  Now, find out about their needs.  Offer any suggestions and / or display a willingness to assist them.  Typically, people will respond in kind and ask how they might assist you.

If they don’t, let them know by offering the same kind of information they provided in response to your casual questions about their needs.

Be considerate

In an appropriate way, show appreciation for the effort or help a contact has provided.  This is dependent on your personal style and the level of support provided.  A simple email or phone call will often suffice – but whatever you do, be sincere.

Maintain the Connection

Contacts are valuable – so keep in touch with the people you meet.  Remember – you’re building a network.  Maintain contact through an occasional email, phone call, or get-together for coffee or lunch.  As hard as it often is to network and build contacts – make an effort to keep them.

Claim the Premium Position

MP900398869 (1) 20 percentIncreased competition and consolidations among component manufacturers in the North American automotive replacement parts market have created an urgent need to maintain a market leadership position among customers.

Now is the perfect time for aftermarket parts manufacturers to lay claim to their respective premium replacement product(s) categories and launch an aftermarket name brand assault.  Establishing a brand as top-of-class quality can be as simple as saying it – assuming that the brand does, indeed have premium quality and can back up that claim.

Once a company decides this is the proper direction for a brand, claiming the premium position should be backed up with all company communications to the market including advertising, marketing, public relations, sales force, web site, even business cards.  Once a brand has been established as the lead, it becomes difficult for other companies to dispute.

Claim your position today.

What’s Old is New – or “The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same . . . “

j0438755 Today more than ever, marketers are overwhelmed by a wave of new techniques and things to make us faster, better, more responsive and more efficient.  Today’s buzzword is forgotten history tomorrow as we’re bombarded by a constant stream of “new.”  That’s a universal and timeless trend that in 2013 is on steroids because of the technology-driven speed at which it transitions.

While technologies change and our capabilities are enhanced – underlying fundamentals of marketing remain the same.  Consider today’s hot buzzword – “content.”

It’s one we feel very strongly about and whether it’s content marketing, branded content, email marketing, social media content marketing, digital content marketing, or something else – we think it’s a good thing, but like many “new” things – not really new.

Were one to listen to the pundits and numerous “digital agency experts” adept at naming things they’ve just realized, one would get the impression that the numerous content-related techniques and topics are distinct areas the savvy marketer must master in order to succeed.  Like many other things, that depends on perspective.

The universal truth about “content”

The main consideration for good content is no different than it was for Franklin and his printing press.  Quality writing that provides something of value to an audience is – or should be – the foundation of all marketing communications.  Strip away the various adjectives dropped in front of the word “content,” and the core should be well-crafted and engaging, with a message that’s articulate, clear and matched to its intended audience.  That’s as old as written language but something many either forgot or never learned as they worked to master technologies and new software.

The message and it relevance to the intended audience is the key to effectiveness.  The idea is to articulately make a case that resonates with readers, viewers and listeners.  The means of delivery: email, direct outreach, eNewsletter, blog entry, Facebook page or all of the above — is an important element, but secondary.  Delivery vehicles enhance receptiveness, but message carries the day.

Just as traditional marketers need to adapt to the digital landscape in order to reach audiences; many new marketers need to value and deliver a quality message that’s of interest in order to engage their audience and be effective.  A wonderfully crafted message in the wrong medium is the same as a poor content sent to someone who opted-in to your data base: both are discarded.

On the other hand, a single well-produced article can have as much of an impact as dozens of keyword optimized back-page articles or hundreds of poorly targeted eBlasts.  Getting your message in front of a decision-maker or landing a thought-provoking, branded piece on the front page of a key publication can be time-consuming, but the exposure and credibility are worth the effort.

So, while many of today’s marketing buzzwords are new, incorporate a technical term and can be confusing, the reality is that the fundamentals remain the same.  “Digital content” still depends on writing quality, targeted message, clarity and an articulate discussion for success.  These fundamentals are too-often forgotten or overlooked in our race to embrace the latest technique – and present opportunity.  Savvy marketers who differentiate their efforts through quality writing will break through the cacophony of online marketing communications – and connect with their audiences!

Marketing Communications in a Down Economy – Evaluate, Engage and Empower

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Down economy? Declining sales? Layoffs on the horizon? Hunker down and wait it out?  Never!  Any company that intentionally pulls itself from the radar screens of potential and existing customers will find itself on a slippery road to the scrap heap and seriously behind more forward-thinking competitors when things turn around.

Smart companies exploit an economic downturn by identifying and meeting customer needs that their competitors can’t.  Needs that customers don’t even see.  The market is changing, the world is changing.  Companies can’t just stay on the sidelines and wait for the playing field to level out.  Customers need new and innovative products and services.  These are things your company has the brainpower to design, develop and bring to market.  Unfortunately, this outlook is counter-intuitive in many traditional types of firms.

Faced with economic hard times, many companies look to eliminate communications and marketing budgets as a way to reduce costs.  However, the actual effect is to reduce revenues, and the medium- and long-term consequences are often worse than the illusory short-term benefits.

In this era of near-instant communication and media saturation, an opportunity lost is not easily won back. Conversely, absence from the marketplace sends the wrong message to customers, suppliers, potential investors, employees and bold competitors.  For these reasons, it is vital to maintain a presence, engage the marketplace, and be visible – with the right message – to all stakeholders.

Communicating during a recession is not business as usual.  A recession should shake up the creative juices of a company.  The phrase – “but we’ve always done it that way,” should be banished from a company’s vocabulary and replaced with “what can we do that is different?”  “How can be of greater value?”  A recession creates the opportunity and motivation for shift in thinking and opportunities for success.

If your marketing and communications activities have been operating in their own little world, now is the time to evaluate, engage and empower – partnering inward focus with outward success.  This is the heart of what we call our P2R E³ Process™.

Evaluate – review and audit perceptions and programs.  This can be done by interviewing company executives, managers, sales force, admins, customers and suppliers, industry and media, and assessing company marketing materials and brands.  This method produces some surprises, but in the end almost always leads to a stronger company with a more thorough understanding of their strengths, their market and opportunities for growth.

Engage – with the information garnered from the evaluation stage, create a road map for your communications, utilizing all the elements and attributes of your business and marketing plan – both informal and formal.  Leave no constituency unattended.  This unique approach helps companies cut through the clutter and reach customers, investors and other key audiences with a clear, unified message.

Empower – give employees the power to create and strategically execute the new marketing communication plan, fully aligned with business objectives, and launch it through employee and external communications.  Address all stakeholders.  Leave no stone unturned.  Now is the time to innovate.  Build on your strengths, radiate optimism, seize the initiative.

Many companies think that the job is done when the communications program has been launched.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Companies need to constantly monitor communications programs, assess progress, re-evaluate and adjust if necessary, re-engage audiences and track success.  Get rid of what doesn’t work, refine and hone what does. Reach out to customers, employees and all other stakeholders. Question assumptions, encourage adventure and reward smart thinkers.

The continuous improvement cycle brings a focus on objectives and a freshness the effort. It maintains a “front-of-mind” presence with your stakeholders through the positive messages you create, making you – not competitors or external forces – the manager of your reputation and the keeper of your brand. Success should be measured against pre-determined metrics established during evaluate and engage activities.

Developing and maintaining a consistent cadence of information to the marketplace is crucial to communication, marketing and branding success.  The idea is to keep your message constant and your voice clear.

Wise CEO’s refuse to let other priorities cloud a steadfast focus on their marketing, brand communications and public relations. Instead, they work to build and leverage their brand reputation through integrated communications activities directed to all stakeholders.

During a recession, many companies grow.  After a recession, some companies grow faster than the competition.  This is more likely if they have new products and services that fit customer needs better; engaged, enthusiastic people who creatively collaborate; an absence of assumptions and an aligned and streamlined business that continues to execute its strategic vision.  Communication is a vital, integrated “force-multiplier” for a business and as critical to its success as cash management.  Indeed – it is a fundamental driver of cash-flow, stability and long-term success.

P2R Associates Awarded Another Hermes Creative PLATINUM Award

Hermes-Statuette-PlatinumP2R Associates today announced it has received a prestigious Platinum Hermes Creative Awards sponsored by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals for its mobile app development work. This latest award brings the total of number of major professional awards P2R has won to 27 for its work since 2007.

P2R’s latest award is in addition to one Automotive Public Relations Council – Excellence in Automotive PR Award, two International Association of Business Communicator Awards, 20 MarCom Awards and three Hermes Creative Awards previously presented to P2R for a range of integrated strategic public relations and marketing communications programs, crisis communication strategies, mobile app development and print and broadcast publicity achievements.

“P2R is a small agency that produces big results and these awards make that point,” said Cole.  “Our trademarked e³ Process™ results in unique programs that deliver success.”

For more information on P2R and our e³ Process™, visit www.p2rassociates.com, email us at info@p2rassociates.com or call us at 1-248-348-2464.

Updated P2R Associates Web Site Coming Soon

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We’re busy designing and developing a new web site to better serve our customers. Look for exciting new “Marketing Toolbox” items like:

  • P2R webVids Web-Enhanced Videos
  • Mobile App Design & Development
  • Web Site Design & Development
  • And more . . .

We look forward to working with you soon.  If you can’t wait, contact us today at: info@p2rassociates.com or call us at 1-248-348-2464.

Changes Coming to P2R Marketing Outreach

What’s New @P2R Associates?

We’re both streamlining and expanding our marketing structure to better serve our clients . .

  • Redesigning our P2R web site
  • Redesigning the P2R Perspectives Newsletter and expanding our industry sector newsletters to include: Aerospace & Defense, Non-Profit, Economic Development and Automotive Aftermarket.  All will be available as a subscription e-blast or downloaded from the new P2R web site.
  • Launching P2R web-optimized video production capability
  • Launching P2R mobile app development capability

P2R won six more marketing industry awards in 2012, including awards for:

  • Print advertising
  • Company launch communication planning
  • Radio advertising campaign
  • Special event planning and implementation
  • Media relations (2)

What have you done in 2013? Let P2R Associates help you to Evaluate / Engage / Empower your company to greater heights.