Each year, retail stores begin preparing for the holidays earlier and earlier. We now see Halloween costumes in August, while we’re trying to enjoy the last days of summer, and we are bombarded by Christmas displays in October before we even get to trick-or-treat.
As annoying as this commercial trend can be, there is one holiday all companies should be focused on and prepare for months ahead of time – New Year’s Day! In order to ensure a profitable new year, it is imperative to begin taking the proper actions well before January 1.
The groundwork for 2017 media relations and marketing campaigns must begin to be strategized and implemented in Q4. This is especially true for B2B companies and those operating in an environment with a long sales cycle.
Some companies only look at the bottom line and try to save a penny wherever possible. But investment in infrastructure and initiatives that will support the growth of profit will almost always allow a business to achieve its desired results. Marketing, PR, and strategic communications efforts are all comparable to the water, electrical, and communications systems in a city’s infrastructure. You may not be able to see them, but it is imperative to a city’s prosperity that they are built on time and according to plan.
American author and politician Dr. A.P. Gouthey once wrote, “To get profit without risk, experience without danger, and reward without work, is as impossible as it is to live without being born.” With that in mind, here are some ideas on how to prepare for a successful 2017.
1. Generate Leads
A certain percentage of all leads turn into customers, which in turn creates revenue. If you generate enough leads heading into next year, then you will ultimately see profits grow. While it does fall on the sales team to help produce leads, the brand / product / service recognition provided from creative and strategic PR campaigns helps put your message directly in front of your target audience as well as potentially open revenue-raising partnerships and collaborative engagements with other stakeholders.
2. Build Your Reputation
“Your brand name is only as good as your reputation,” said entrepreneur Richard Branson. One negative action or comment can live forever on the internet and the consequences can be serious for your business, something the great Ben Franklin commented on years ago: “It takes many good deeds to build a reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” However, reputations can be repaired when damaged and created when absent.
In addition to good, ethical business practices, there are many opportunities to build your reputation if you just know where to look. Speaking at industry conferences, contributing quotes to media articles, and strengthening your presence in the community are all means to build your company’s reputation, secure new customers, and retain old ones. Control your narrative! (Having said that, if you do have reputational issues in the past, a good PR partner can assist in getting narrative back on track).
3. Strengthen & Create Relationships
Public relations is all about relationships. Utilizing a dedicated public relations team will instantly expand your network and relationships. The funding landscape requires strong investor relations with the right VCs, along with targeted messaging showing value and brand. Likewise, influencer and media relationships require time to cultivate and grow. The right opportunity to collaborate might not happen right away, but a well-maintained relationship will bear fruit down the road.
Now is the time to begin preparing for 2017. Application deadlines for Winter and Spring conferences are fast approaching. Many great media opportunities for next year require a long lead time, and journalists are currently outlining who they want to feature. Investing in branding, PR, and marketing helps shape customers’ opinions, and ultimately can lead to greater profitability, allowing you to have a truly Happy New Year!