You had me at “hello”: Operations done right.

21 09 2009

YouHadMeAtHello

Recently, I spoke with Nathan Hambley of The Frause Group about public relations (PR) and small businesses. At Frause, Nathan manages hospitality accounts and supports in other categories like real estate, consumer products and professional services. Over lunch, we discussed how businesses use and reference PR and how PR is used for damage control.

With regard to the timing of PR, Nathan’s number one suggestion for businesses is to “nail their operations first.” This seems like a simple concept, but we all know of a business or restaurant that lost your business because their service didn’t make par. If a business has a clear focus on how to conduct their operations and they’ve mastered the process, PR simply compliments their existing success. And in this struggling economy, the last thing a business owner wants to do is spend money on damage control.

So is there a framework to follow for nailing business operations? Well, nothing tied to your business in particular, but there are some general concepts that are applicable to all businesses. It’s not rocket science. But when it is so easy to get bogged down by day-to-day operations, these fundamental business concepts are a good broad level focus reminder.

At the start, master these three elements, which differentiate between business success and failure:

  1. Find a need.
  2. Be good at what you do.
  3. Be passionate about your business.

In more detail, think about these questions, found in a great Biznik article about turning your small business into big business:

“Do you know how many clients or sales you need to break-even? Do you know what your client profile looks like? Your target market? What does your average sale look like? Learn how to break down your numbers; not just annually, but month-to-month and week-to-week if you must.”

Finally, answer the phone. How many times have you called a business, only to be greeted by someone who gives the impression that they really didn’t want to take the call in the first place? Phone answering skills are critical for business success because the telephone is often considered a business’s most primary point of contact with customers. Follow these 12 phone answering tips to ensure that callers know they’re dealing with a winning business.

And as for PR? Today, public relations has morphed into a new mix of traditional tactics (press releases) combined with new opportunities such as blogging and social networks/social media. Small business owners now have even more choices and more to learn in order to use the marketing tools that PR has to offer. As to where to start, read this interview for small business owners who are interested in delving into PR and social media marketing.

Photo courtesy of Entertainment Weekly.

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