Communications can add power to your business, enhancing many of your most important initiatives, such as building a clientele. But getting to the starting line in communications can be challenging for a small business owner. This October — National Women’s Small Business Month — is a good time to prepare for active communications in the coming year.
Think Before You Act
Even the simplest forms of communication will require time, creativity and often some money. Before expending these resources, answer these four questions either on your own, with people in your network, or with support from a communications professional.
- What do I want communications to achieve? Communications isn’t done for its own sake. Rather, it helps you reach other goals like improving visibility, linking your business with a trend, or highlighting your expertise. What important goals are central to your business success?
- Who does my business need to reach? Identify one or a few target audiences. For instance, a cybersecurity business may target companies of a certain size in a particular industry. The more narrowly you target, the easier it will be to find these key people, understand their interests and needs and figure out how to attract them.
- What do I need people to know? Why should folks know and care about your business? Think from the audience’s point of view as well as your own. Great communications messages are mutually beneficial.
- How should I get my business seen and heard? Choices abound. Select based on what best fits your purpose, audience and message, even if it’s not the latest fad. For instance, include online and offline access to information if you’re targeting an audience of elderly people whose Internet skills and comfort levels may vary.
Form a strategy
One of the most common public relations mistakes is moving forward without a strategy. Answering these four questions reveals vital strategic information. Make it the centerpiece of a manageable approach to communications that can help you meet your business goals effectively, and you’ll be ready to cross the starting line with confidence.
About the Author
Mollie Katz, a multimedia strategist and entrepreneur, owns Mollie Katz Communications, which designs and carries out communications plans for small businesses and nonprofits. Her work is based on more than 20 years of experience in writing, editing, media relations, and communications skills training. She has benefitted from several courses at the Maryland Women’s Business Center.