Do You Need Help Promoting Your Business?
Consider these factors before you enlist the services of a publicist, sales rep or other marketing professional.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Q: I am looking to hire someone formy business to help me get the word out and eventually bring inmore sales. I'm not sure if I need a PR person, a PR agency, apublicist, a sales rep, a business agent, a booking agent or amarketing manager. How can I select the right professional to meetmy business's needs?
A: If PR or sales is not one ofyour core competencies, then you are to be congratulated foroutsourcing-for finding an expert to do what he or she does best soyou can continue to do what you do best.
The ideal situation for any business is to have a salesrepresentative acting on your behalf to sell your business'sproducts and/or services. The con is that you bear the full cost ofthis person's salary and benefits along with the time it takesto manage him or her. The pros are that, typically, the rightperson will be a dedicated employee who is passionate about growingyour company, bringing in sales and sharing in rewards andprofits.
If only it were this easy. If you knew a salesperson could bringin $20,000 worth of business for every $10,000 of salary he or shewas paid, hiring a salesperson would be a no-brainer. In reality,the biggest challenge is educating or finding someone that knows asmuch about your industry, product, service or business as you do.Typically, this requires a long startup curve that's often notworthy of the investment. Evaluating all these factors will helpyou determine if a salesperson is the right move to bring in morebusiness for you.
If you are strictly trying to get the word out about yourcompany, then using the outsourced services of a publicist or PRagency is probably for you. A publicist will make calls, arrangeappearances, follow up with media, solicit press and so on. Theirefforts will allow you to go face-to-face or phone-to-phone withprospective clients. When they focus on the details, you'refree to do what you do best.
A PR agency typically does all a publicist would do, but spendsmuch more time developing your PR strategy, defining target marketsand ways to communicate to them via the press, developing a mediakit to get more PR placement, and making the contacts. Remember:Whether you go with a publicist or a PR agency, their job is to getthe word out about you. Yet you still have to hope that someonepicks up the phone as a result of their efforts to make a call toyou. At this point, closing the sale is still left up to yourselling process. Hiring a publicist or a PR agency does notguarantee an increase in sales. Neither does hiring a salesperson,but the probability of increased sales does go up when you hireone. This decision, of course, has to be weighed against the costand training time involved.
A marketing manager will coordinate all your marketing inaddition to the PR and spend time planning your business'scommunications. The result will be a big-picture business planningapproach for growing your business. Again, getting someoneup-to-speed or knowledgeable about your industry must beevaluated.
A booking agent concentrates primarily on booking event-relatedappointments, such as public events, conferences or seminars. Ifthis appeals to your target market and has a good probability ofbeing converted into business, you must give strong considerationto this method of gaining new business.
As you can see, there are a variety of methods to gaining newbusiness and growing your company. Evaluating your overallstrategy-as well as resources such as time, training, salaries andbenefits-will help you determine your best course of action.
Al Lautenslager is the president and owner of The Ink Well, acommercial printing and mailing company in Wheaton, Illinois, andthe principal of Market For Profits, a Naperville, Illinois-basedmarketing consulting and coaching firm. He can be reached email@example.com orthrough his Web site, Market for Profits".
The opinions expressed in this column arethose of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers areintended to be general in nature, without regard to specificgeographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied uponafter consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney oraccountant.