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.

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.

Agency Compensation for RFPs? A Procedure Whose Time has Come

We have been receiving our fair share of RFPs lately and as usual, the discussion turns to “are we going to get paid for this?” or “they’re just going to steal our ideas and give them to another firm to implement.”

To combat this we have been doing some research into the question of compensation for the effort that an agency expends in order to reply to an RFP, much less win the contract.

According to a recent ADWEEK article, “too often, agency executives view RFPs as take-it-or-leave-it documents, frequently ignoring the risk of giving away ideas “for free” for a chance at a lucrative contract.  Additionally, some RFP issuers have long viewed the process as an opportunity to solicit creative ideas from a range of sources without having to pay.  Neither of these scenarios is desirable.”

AutoZone, a national automotive parts retailer, recently offered to purchase ownership of pitched ideas.  On the surface, it may seem that AutoZone, and subsequently other prospective agency clients, are devaluing the creative and or strategic planning process by requesting ownership of campaign ideas in exchange for meager financial compensation.  Note: Autozone is also requesting a two-year ban preventing agencies participating in their RFPs to pitch competitors – essentially a non-compete clause.

But perhaps this might signal a procedural shift among those requesting RFPs and evaluating agency proposals.  Are agency clients now recognizing property ownership?  Will this be a trend-shift?  The ADWEEK article suggests that this is a starting point for pre-proposal compensation negotiations.  Concept development fees can be explored.  This seems like a stretch.

At a very minimum, agencies should be able to copyright the information contained in their proposals, even if they are not compensated.  Wording should be developed where the ownership of the concept, plan and execution model belongs to the developer until payment is rendered.  Alternately, a non-disclosure agreement could be entered into.  Wouldn’t this be a new idea!

Ultimately, we believe agencies need some legal protection if their ideas and plans are used without payment.

What do you think?

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Claiming the Premium Market Position

Increased 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.

Marketing Strategies for Today’s Economic Climate

9 strategies to help stretch your marketing dollar

As we head into Q4, business executives remain hopeful that the worst of the recession is behind us, and despite the many questions regarding the impact of policies being implemented or considered, smart American business leaders know they must look forward and find solutions.  While the urge to “sit and wait” for clarity is strong – and the norm in many places — the reality is that business goes on.  Markets continue to evolve, and competition does not stand still for indecision.

While some functions can and should be delayed, others – such as marketing – should not be.  A company’s hard-earned position in the industry, reputation and all things “brand” continue to be earned, refreshed, and solidified – by design and direct action, or by random occurrence through inaction.  The race goes on, whether the runners know it or not.

The challenge for many marketers becomes a question of how to maximize the effect of marketing and support activities when resources continue to be lean.  Different organizations will have different “go-to-market” processes and so will prioritize in varying ways, but focused attention in 9 key areas can help the majority of businesses make the most of their efforts and dollars.

Target your effortSpend your money where it matters – focused on the people who buy your products or services.  Ads or outreach activities aimed at non-buyers are not targeted effectively and won’t “move the needle.”  Conversely, a campaign that’s targeted on your customers or their influencers will consistently produce strong results.

Be repetitious and consistentAmong the keys to successful marketing communications activities are maintaining frequency and being consistent.  This is especially so in downturn periods.  On-again, off-again budgets drive on-again, off-again efforts and in the eyes of most audiences, indicate a number of things – none of them good.

Such efforts drive speculation about a company’s staying power and competence, and speak to a company’s vision.  A company with a vision and a plan gets and stays on a consistent path.  Those companies are seen as survivors and their customers perceive a sound approach.  Other companies are perceived as not “walking the talk” and jeopardize their credibility at the worst possible time.

Consistent budgets drive consistent efforts – so resist the urge to cut marketing budgets. Use the budget to maintain the visibility your stakeholders and customers expect.  Shift budget from non-producing efforts and apply them to things that work for you.

Leverage your budget – integrate activities — don’t focus efforts on individual activities or efforts that are not coordinated.  Whether its traditional or online advertising, special events or media outreach – you will achieve significantly greater results by integrating your activities.  Your marketing communications activities are like an orchestra – and you are its conductor.  The different parts support one another and leverage individual success into a larger organizational effort.  Your activities will be recognized for their cohesion and by communicating with “one voice” – your message will ring clearly in the market place.

Quality Trumps QuantitySo keep your focus on quality.  When times are tough and your competitors are shaving costs across the board – let them.  Maintain your standards and offer the same quality in your products, services – and your marketing communications.  Your customers are already looking for greater value and will fill any void created by your less astute competitors.  Let them!

Push and Pull Your Way to Success “Push” marketing includes direct mail, email marketing, and the like.  “Pull” marketing is bringing potential customers in to your website – or causing them to phone you from a variety of places that can include advertising, search engine listings and other such vehicles.  Recognize the dual nature of your lead-generating activities and look for advertising or other marketing service providers that already have your target audiences in the cross hairs.

Seek Assistance from Media Partners – Your success is their success.  They know it and will be eager to help you!  They’ll know things you don’t and many times won’t know how to help, or even that you would welcome it – so talk with them, ask questions and reach out.  In addition to their expertise typically surpassing your own – they generally work more cost-effectively.  Ask yourself if your time is best spent monitoring metrics or web effectiveness for 2 hours a day – or better spent managing those areas and driving larger success.  Think of your time as the critical and finite resource it is; and consider your media partners as resources there to help you.

Benchmark Good Ideas – and learn from others – A wise man once said, “Good ideas are where we find them.”  There are plenty of smart people out there today and many more in our past.  While technology drives incredible change – many of the challenges we face are ones that have been faced before.  Research your challenges.  See how others have overcome them and learn from their experience.

Assess Effectiveness …Measure Performance – Metrics are a good thing.  You don’t need to buy a sophisticated package or the latest whiz-bang program.  Develop your own.  Measure what you determine to be necessary for your success, keep it simple and focus on improving in those areas.  For your online activities, you’ll want to hire someone or a firm with the experience to decipher your analytics and dial-in an effective online program.  It is money well-spent.

Incorporate changes quickly – when metrics or changing conditions warrant a shift in tactics – implement the change quickly.  If you wait for the perfect solution – or until the next quarter, you’ll likely be passed by the competition.  Sometimes you’ll have all the verification you’ll need, but most times, you won’t.  This is especially true in marketing activities and more so during uncertain times or challenging environments.

Remember too – there is always merit in a calculated gamble. If the potential is great and the risk is acceptable, why delay?  Similarly, if your organization can learn to be nimble, you will be able to take advantage of rapid changes in circumstances and the opportunities they bring.  Make challenges things you simply adapt and overcome.

Cerion LLC Selects P2R Associates

Cerion_logo_finalLIVONIA, Mich., June 1, 2009 – P2R Associates announced that it has been selected as agency of record for Cerion, LLC of Plymouth, Michigan.

P2R will provide Cerion with a range of integrated communications, corporate positioning and strategic public relations services in support of the company’s business development and marketing initiatives.

Cerion is a privately-held American manufacturing company focused on acquiring and operating small and medium-sized precision component manufacturing operations to serve automotive and other manufacturing industries in the U.S.

“We are delighted to add Cerion to our roster of clients,” said Gordon Cole, president of P2R Associates. “Cerion is quickly building a manufacturing-oriented business focused on providing customers with world-class products and services; we share this vision and are excited to become part of their team.”
Cerion was established in late 2008 with the acquisition of Metavation, and is growing rapidly through strategic acquisitions; the company recently acquired MPI International. Cerion serves a diverse customer base in the automotive, transportation, industrial, energy, consumer and medical markets. More information will soon be available at http://www.cerionllc.com.

About P2R Associates
P2R Associates is an award-winning, strategic public relations and brand communications firm serving a diverse mix of international, national and local companies in a range of industries. Headquartered in Livonia, Mich., P2R provides clients with strategy-driven tactics, superior service and measurable results. For more information, visit http://www.p2rassociates.com.

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