“Sometimes I think the family I was brought up in was 100 years out of date.”
Have you ever wondered why start-ups, as well as second stage companies, always find the money to spend on marketing and public relations strategies and executions? Seriously. These companies barely have enough money to pay employees, and many of the founders would rather forego a paycheck than cut back on their marketing and public relations expenditures. Why? Because they know the best widget or service in the world is dead on arrival if people have never heard about it.
So should established companies have the same mindset? Obviously, based on what I do for a living, you know what my answer is. The bigger question is why some established companies having good years, think of promoting their companies and services as necessary evil rather than a priority strategy? Well, established companies get comfortable and assume their revenue streams and referral networks will always be there. Then they aren’t. The company didn’t cultivate the relationships. They didn’t reach out. They cut back on events, newsletters, media relations, and strategic lunches with customers and prospects. They got too comfortable. Then one morning the CEO wakes up (or in most cases, the CFO) and discovers those same customers and referral partners have slid into the economic abyss. They’re gone and so it their revenue.
But here’s the good news. It’s never too late to get back in the game.
We are working now with a family business that’s being run by its fourth generation. The type of service they provided was always needed and revered … until it wasn’t anymore. Then one morning, the CEO and great-grandson of the founder woke up and realized that if the company was going to survive even his generation, he needed to do something bold. Like begin a marketing strategy to reintroduce him to the landscape. He was getting killed by the “Mom and Pop” shops cutting corners and not paying attention to detail. But it didn’t matter to some of his lifelong clients, who were willing to give up a little quality to cut a little spend. After four generations we are now reintroducing the company to customers who worked with them when they started. I’m sure some are surprised they’re even still around. There was little contact, little press about what they were doing. They had developed state of the art engineering and services in a landscape that clients didn’t care about anymore. Now we’re helping the company show people they NEED to care, that they have superior service, facilities and expertise. The stuff they’ve had all along and never talked about – because they didn’t’ have to.
It’s never too late to roll out a marketing and PR strategy – even if it takes four generations to pull the switch. If the kids building companies out of their basements and local incubators know how important it is, maybe it’s time for the more established companies to get on board too. No matter what you do, what you make or who you serve, if you’re not reaching out to your clients and prospects every day – you’ve lost them.