What can I do to help grow our small software company?
What are the best tips you have for expanding and growing our company (that makes network and file monitoring software)? We are small but established, and really hope to grow at a faster pace. Would anyone recommend PR? None of us has worked with a PR firm before and we are considering it as an option. Thank you!
I recommend you read the book, "Youtility," if you haven't.
It is my belief that all companies need heavy "content marketing," these days--meaning blogging, bylines and useful posts and community and social media engagement, (in carefully chosen channels), around their industries--That content creation often falls under PR, and in the last two years has become almost 65 percent of what we do at my company, because EVERYONE is a publisher today.
As for "media relations," it really depends on what you do, how you do it and if there is anything unique or different about that. I would suggest you start with a competitive analysis of companies slightly larger that yours or your main competitors. Consider their sites, their blogging, their activity on LinkedIn, and do a media search and look at your trade pubs for their name or products. That will reveal a lot about what you admire about what they do or where there is a gap you can fill. Also, begin brainstorming topics you have a lot of knowledge in, and outline some headlines you could easily talk to for a few minutes or write 500 words about that would serve your buyer.
You could hire an agency to do said research and give you a strategic plan that you can try to implement in-house if you are unsure you want to buy an ongoing counsel program.
I suggest gather some investors to open up the possibility of expanding your business and increasing your market share
In general, you are looking for a marketing firm of some kind. PR is a type of marketing and may help depending on why you aren't growing. Get a good business plan together and go to a marketing company to get consultation on how you should move forward.
If you are a private company then its a multitude of different approaches (networking, doing a charity cause etc..) . My belief is if a contact hears or sees your name from 3 separate sources you will gain recognition.
As a public company it requires more precise skill but you can access thousands of companies more efficiently
Michael Halper provided a fairly comprehensive list of tactics/approaches you should integrate into your PR, as well as marketing, efforts.
The business networking piece is often approached in a non-strategic manner, which results in a lack of results. Most people think they can join a Chamber of Commerce and go to a few breakfasts, or join in on some business luncheons and walk away with relationships that will become clients. The reality is that it takes a strategic alignment with real people, and a process of targeting the right people to produce results. Getting involved in community causes that matter to the executive of a target company can open the door better than a telemarketing call. It takes more effort to get deeply involved in the community, but that's the best way to engage certain people. Am I advocating for a false or shallow level of involvement? Not at all. This is where the alignment piece comes into play. Align yourself with causes that matter to you, and that you have also discovered matter to the target executive. A little homework goes a long way, and positioning yourself in the right circles goes even farther. Do you want to help further the cause of education in your community, or economic development? What about medical advances? What are the hot buttons? How can your product align with your targeted direction?
To answer your question about PR firms, it works to do a PR campaign, but the results often come much later than expected, and only with a concentrated effort that keeps the PR alive, even after the PR firm has finished its role. It is important to set clear goals and strategy up front, and a timeline for the PR campaign (The tail end of the PR campaign might not be revealed to the PR firm up front, but you should have an idea of when it should end, unless you budget for ongoing PR.)
William, it would be productivity for you to take steps toward building out a more well rounded sales and marketing mix. PR may or may not be part of that. By itself, PR are is not the answer to your problem.
The sales and marketing tools at your disposal are like clubs in a golf bag. You would not play a round of golf with one club, right? You have to use a full set as each club serves its own purpose and offers different benefits and limitations.
Here are some of the tools at your disposal to grow your business. Invest time and energy in some or all of these and you should begin to see a positive return and growth.
- Business networking
- Email marketing
- Social media activity
- Pay-per-click advertising
- Search engine optimization
- Inbound marketing
- Content marketing
- Outbound phone prospecting
- Direct mail
Note that I did not put PR down at the bottom with direct mail by coincidence if that helps to answer your question as well.
You might consider @PRIdeas on twitter, tell Todd that "AlwaysInTao" sent you and he'll take you seriously. Meanwhile find any way you can to involve some open source projects in your expansion, because that is the easiest way to find good people at every skill level you'll need as you advance. #Cheers
Certainly, Derek has made it in his first point. Focusing for a PR firm in turn to generate leads will not give way the expected. You have also cited that you are an established concern though the set up is small. In such a case, the best strategies that you can look for will be:
- Just publicize your business subject as well the products established to the communities that are accountable to yours.
- Major option you can opt will be in reaching out the experts via social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Mosaichub, Quora wherein you are sure to get along with several suggestions on your product as well in growing your business to heights.
- Besides, you can also check out for any e-mail marketing that drags in a reliable count of users to your product/service.
Yet, there are several such kind of proficiencies to be followed up.
if you're not much worried in spending your pennies, you can get rolling with some of the ad campaigns, marketing strategies, etc. Emphatically you will experience the gradual growth in your business.
William ...1.) Your growth starts with a business plan that outlines your goals. Your marketing and sales efforts (strategically and tactically) must aligned to achieve these business goals.
2.) PR is just one tactical communications channel you can use to get your message streamed to your target audience's decision makers and influencers. PR, it in and by itself, is not going to achieve the success you desire, but it will help. Ultimately, you'll need a comprehensive marketing communications program that includes offline and online tactics that cover all the touchpoints that an IT decision maker and influencer go to to obtain their information. It will need to cover the entire buying path (funnel) from top to bottom.
3.) There are some excellent research studies available on the IT buying cycle that informs on where, how and what of the needs in the IT buying cycle.
One thing I noticed from your website is that you don't have any case studies that discuss the problem, the solution and the ROI. This is key information that decision makers and influencers are looking for.
4.) If marketing communications is not a core competency of your management team then it would be in your best interest of the company to hire a consultancy that can guide you through the process and implement and run the campaign.
5.) Derek mentioned nurturing. I don't see any functionality that you are capturing data from your visitors to capture who they are and what they are interested in and then creating the appropriate message streams to nurture them before you hand them off to your VAR network.
Once again this is something that a marketing communications can help you develop and implement.
William, there are several directions you could go with this.
The first step, as @Derek mentioned is probably to do some PR. Make sure your site has proper call to actions and drive people to the site for more information, etc.
You also might consider an explainer video. These are EXCELLENT and you can post them on places like Youtube to get additional exposure. I would also add it to your site. We created one for our site at ZeroZen. For video hosting and analytics, give Wistia a shot.
I'm not sure exactly what your products are all about, but you might try direct conversations with local companies. The local chamber of commerce can be a good place to start.
Hope some of this helps.
Judging from your customer list, you obviously have a product people want.
PR may be an option if you have a strong story, but don't look at it from a lead-gen perspective. It has to be part of an awareness/branding effort into the market. The other key is to emphasize customer successes with those stories. In most cases, the media you will be reaching out to will want to talk to those customers or build a story around what those customers were able to do.
Certainly from an operational state, having a PR agency in place is great. But I find that even direct outreach to specific media from the founders or leadership of the company, with the right set of pitches, can often get you in the door.
As a Microsoft certified partner, you hopefully are also doing a lot within the server management IT community. If not, you should try to utilize that as much as possible with a set of content marketing campaigns.
I might also recommend you take a look at the branding of your website. You have an opportunity to show yourself as a little more modern. Perhaps even adopting some of Microsoft's new Metro branding.
I see you're using retargeting. Have you optimized it to support your campaigns?
Also, have you done anything with sponsored updates on LinkedIn? This might be a very key way to build up a following.
Lastly, I don't see any email marketing tags on your site. Do you have a nurture stream setup? Do you have outbound email campaigns you're engaging in?
If you'd like to chat more and explore other areas, I hope you'll connect with me.