Posts Tagged Business Groups

Is PR worth the cost?

Is PR really an ego spend rather than a direct revenue generator, was a question asked at the Business Exposure Group meeting.

Research by Proctor and Gamble showed PR as the highest return on investment of any marketing tactic with a 270% ROI.

A well planned PR campaign can increase brand recognition, search engine ranking, targeted traffic and sales ready leads.  But many SME’s put unrealistic objectives forward for their PR campaigns, ones that are not easily measurable, such as

  1. attain awareness of our brand by the end of the year, or
  2.  introduce our new service with a bang

It is far better to have measureable objectives, for instance

  1.  get 3 mentions in the business press, or
  2.  ask all new customers how they heard of us and get 10 of these through published articles

The reality for SME’s is that PR is vital, it gets you there, whereas advertising keeps you there.  For little financial commitment either through traditional PR or Social Media a buzz/noise can be made in the marketplace for your business, and if your plan doesn’t seem to be working do not wait until the end of the next quarter to make adjustments, because with the latest downloadable marketing tools we can make adjustments this week.

Many of the members at the meeting shied away from publicity, acknowledging that this was a mistake, and recognising that PR generates business leads, improves staff morale, assists in recruiting new employees and attracts investors. PR is key to positioning our businesses and we should work towards spending 5% of our turnover on PR and Marketing budgets.

Two further questions were raised at the meeting.  Firstly, is it better to use a specialist firm who know how to target PR and have the necessary contacts, or should we do it in-house and pay wages instead.  Most felt that an outsourced specialist with a clear and tight remit was the best cost-effective approach.

The second question was, is Twitter the most effective form of business PR, as it has a low financial entry level and an unparalleled reach capability.  Not everyone was sold on the Twitter approach, citing that few people take it seriously and the majority of users do not know how to make it work for business.

Whilst the debate could have lasted far longer than scheduled at the meeting, all felt the need but many lacked the certainty, of how to run and implement an effective PR campaign.

If you know the answers then please drop me a line, because it’s all a bit of a black art!

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To be a successful business, you need a business plan


A business plan is a crucial step for any successful business venture but is all too often forgotten or put on the back burner.

Many owners see business plans as merely a way of acquiring funding. They do not recognise the power of the business plan in steering your business forward many months or even years down the line.

What’s the point of a business plan?

A business plan serves a critical purpose in any organisation. It focuses your efforts,
enabling you to spot potential pitfalls. It also allows you to set realistic targets and to trace your growth.

Good business plans enable you to structure and monitor your business, as well as recruit the right level and calibre of staff.

However, even when written, most business plans tend to end up in someone’s drawer. This completely defeats the original purpose and will not serve any benefit to your
company.

Entrepreneurs need to communicate their business plans to their organisation and to their staff so that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. The document should
not be reserved for the eyes of management only – all employees should understand the opportunities and the threat to the business.

Businesses which are well-established tend to use a business plan every month to
realistically analyse whether or not they are on track. A business plan allows you to consider detailed market research in relation to your competitors so you can fully understand where your business is going.

The benefit of having it written in black and white is it focuses your mind. It’s also
extremely motivational to write. More importantly in a recessionary period it allows you to say no to certain opportunities which come your way.
If an offer is not exactly in line with your business plan you should say no as you can become sidetracked.

That said, no business plan is good if it’s too static or inflexible.

A business plan is a good way of making people in your business accountable. Business plans can be as simple as a single sheet of paper to focus your mind or as comprehensive as a 70-page report dealing with all strategic issues in a business.

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Business Exposure Group events are providing valuable business advice

Last month’s Business Exposure Group meetings around the region were excellent and again generated some quality suggestions.

With 9 groups now operating across Manchester and Yorkshire, the main issues across several discussion groups included: –

–          Is there a need for a business plan, particularly during a recession?

–          Is social media a scary problem or a great business opportunity

–          Whether to rely on freelancers or employ full time staff

–          Techniques to control sales staff and make them accountable

–          Methods used to get your business message out to a new market

–          The value of purchasing a competitor in distress, purely to use it’s strong  brand

–         How to let go and have the confidence to allow your business to flourish

The high value of the group advice was commented on by the majority of the members.

Are you a Business owner or Director around Manchester?

Please let us know by return if you would like us to reserve a place for you around the table at our next meeting in Manchester city centre on the afternoon of Monday 4th July 2011.

The numbers are limited to 15 and this groups is getting full.

Outside the Manchester area, there are groups in Leeds, Bradford, Wetherby and Sheffield. Please let us know if you would like to attend any of these events during July.

Please email philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk for more information.

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Manchester – Business Discussion Forum Event

The next meeting of the Manchester 1 Premier Business Forum is on Monday 6 June at 1.30 – 5.00pm – please ask us for details.

Please let us know if you would like to attend any of our groups in Leeds, Sheffield, Wetherby, Manchester or Bradford over the coming weeks..

Last month’s meeting was excellent with some good quality discussion and suggestions from the guests that attended.

With 9 groups now operating, the main issues across several discussion groups
included: –

–          Increasing customer engagement, when your product range is limited.
–          Outsourcing to increase competitiveness.  The advantages and pitfalls.
–          How to build a pipeline of business based on listening to the issues your customers
are facing.
–          How to motivate senior staff when there has been no salary increase or bonus for 2
years.
–          The value of ‘competitor knowledge’ when building a robust business
–          Do I grow or do I stick?  – The fear factor.
–          Should the business employ more sales or more support staff, as a way of
increasing the size of the business?

The high value of the group advice was commented on by the majority of the members.

Please let us know by return if you would like us to reserve a place for you round the
table at our next meeting on the afternoon of 6 June 2011.

The numbers are limited to 15 and the groups are now getting full.

If you would like to attend, please contact Philip Drazen by email at: philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk

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Discussion summary from our March events

          Selecting personnel who will make you a profit and not just provide a service.
          Techniques to close a sales order after finding the buyers ‘pain’ and real reason for purchase.
          Creating a business organisation that knows how to sell.
          Our changing approach to marketing and communication in the current climate (spend and tactics).
          How social media can be part of your business and customer development.
          Group feedback with regard to this years salary reviews.
          Systemizing your business to make it scaleable and attractive to a purchaser.

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Discussion summary from our February events

This months meetings went really well.   The main issues across several discussion groups included:-

How to be good at time management. – The need to prioritise important tasks without emails taking you off track.
How to incentivise senior employees without giving them a share of your business.  – The advantages of an EMI scheme as opposed to a Long Term Incentive plan.
How and when to begin finding a replacement business partner in readiness for their retirement.
How to get bigger customers.
How to deal with an important member of staff who continually plays the system.
The merits of a full time financial controller, or an outsourced function, or a part time senior strategic financial director. – The pros and cons.

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Salary Reviews, Are you paying out too much?

We discussed the subject of salaries at a recent Business Exposure Group meeting and received some interesting feedback…
There were numerous responses from what was a very good cross-section of both traditional and service-led business owners.

Here are some of the comments…

“Salaries should match inflation”
“No salary increases, but bonuses would be better”
“We can’t give pay rises this year because of business uncertainty”
“I only give a wage increase if someone asks”
“Increases cannot be across the board, but we’ll look at specific individuals”
“The market is dictating a 10% increase”

Please let us know your opinion.What answers are you giving your staff at the moment?

How is that affecting your recruitment programme?

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