Use Research and Strategic Messaging to Boost Your Bottom Line

Get the most out of your marketing and PR buck by ensuring that before you start spending on brochures, media campaigns and other tactics, you are reaching the right targets with messages that resonate.

How do you do that? Research should always be the first step in any public relations or marketing campaign so that you can ensure that you wonít be simply throwing darts when sending that new brochure or press release. After all, if itís not reaching the right target, and what it says isnít resonating with the person reading it, youíve wasted your money. Spending research dollars upfront will spare you the disappointment and financial drain of a failed campaign.

No one knows their business better than you, so determine who it is youíre trying to reach and what you want them to do. Are you selling a product or service? Are you looking to boost the membership of your professional society?

Letís say, for instance, that you manufacture widgets for a high-income client base. Youíll want to know where your customers or potential customers go to find widgets, what drew them to your company over the next leading widget manufacturer. How do you find that out? Ask them. This could mean an inexpensive and informal poll or email survey of your current customer base to find out how they heard about your company.

The limitations of polls and surveys are that the questions are tailored so that the participants are choosing among answers you have already provided. There is no room for elaboration from them. For example, ďDid you hear about our widgets from 1). TV ads, 2). Our company newsletter, 3). An article in the newspaper, 4). A friend who uses our widgets. Despite its limits, the results from surveys and polls allow you to better target your marketing/public relations outreach effort.

If you have greater research dollars to spend, and I urge all my clients to put some aside, you may consider hiring some professional help to conduct focus group research. Focus groups consist of a random sample of folks in the demographic you are targeting, who gather to answer questions. They receive a financial incentive to participate. These focus groups will reap rich detailed information, such as how your current clients found out about your widgets, what differentiates you from the competition, did they see your advertising (where?), did they read about you in a publication (which one?). The focus group format allows the facilitator of the group to probe more when needed, so that you are getting rich qualitative information. Once you get your results, you will have excellent information on how to reach others in your target market. Youíll know what publications your audience reads, what websites they trust and go to for information on widgets, and the characteristics about your widgets, or your competitorís widgets, they love.

All of this information can then be used to develop messages that strike a chord with your target audiences and tell you where you want your messages to appear. If, for instance, your research tells you that your widgets outlast your competition because they are so durable, that should be worked into your messages. Or if you learned that your excellent customer service is what differentiates you from the competition, that also should be part of your message. Once developed, your messages should be included in all of your communications, advertising, press releases, marketing materials, etc. A good PR consultant will develop a strategic plan for you that outlines various tactics that will help reach your target audiences.

The result is increased awareness about your company and product/service, increased sales, and information to guide the business of your organization.

About the Author:
Sandra M. Remey, M.A., A.P.R. is an award-winning public relations and marketing strategist based in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. As president of Remey Communications (www.remeycommunications.com), she applies her more than 20 years of successful PR and marketing experience to clients in the corporate, association, and non-profit sectors. www.remeycommunications.com.

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