Definition of Security: Small Business Owner

Yes, that IS security when nobody can downsize you because you OWN that small business of yours! But preserving that special advantage is a never-ending job. In fact, do you know what needs to be preserved more than anything else?

Well, since they hold the future of your business in their hands, I believe that an outside group of people whose behaviors can effect your business' survival more than any other, deserves your rapt attention.

What I'd like you to conclude from that is, what your key target audiences think about you can take you down in a New York minute!

* customers displeased with your product or service don't come back

* prospects who don't know about you don't buy

* employees who believe you don't care about them lean on their oars

* when minority folks believe you discriminate, you have new problems

* and if community residents believe your business is a lousy place to work, you have hiring and retention problems.

Even though help is on the way, you can't work on everything at once, so prioritize those key audiences. That is, which external audience is of immediate concern?

The good news is that problems like those above just don't happen when you closely and regularly monitor what those "key publics" think about you. First, you find ways to interact with them.

Then probe what they think about you and the business. In what behaviors are they engaging? What about misunderstandings? Do you see any problems brewing?

When you take the trouble to stay in touch with those folks whose behaviors affect your business the most, you've taken an important first step towards preserving your business.

There's a real sequence here. Once you gather those facts from monitoring your key, target audience, it becomes obvious what your problem is and, thus, the public relations goal. For example, correct that misconception about your product; or reinforce a budding perception that you deliver superior service; or correct a suspicion that you don't put women in positions of responsibility.

With your goal in-hand, how are you going to achieve it? You need a strategy which, in public relations, only comes in three flavors: create opinion (perception) where none may exist; change existing opinion, or reinforce it.

So, you've set your public relations goal AND a very doable strategy. Now, what must your message say to implement that strategy? It must address the "fix" you decided upon when you set the goal. It must be clear, specific, persuasive and, above all, believable. As you write it, remain sensitive to what you are trying to do: change somebody's perception which almost always leads to the change in behavior you really want. Does your message meet this challenge?

Many would now find themselves with a great goal, a super strategy and a first class message, and nowhere to go.

But not you. Here, you select the "beasts of burden" you need to carry that message to the eyes and ears of those members of your key, target audience whom you need to reach and move to action.

And that means communications tactics. There are more available to you than we have time or space to list. Among them: community briefings, seminars, special events, news releases, speeches, brochures and personal contacts.

Is your work completed? Nope, because how will you track your progress? The answer is, Round 2 of the monitoring job. Interact with members of your prime outside audience all over again, carefully evaluating what you hear. If the goal was "correct a misconception," are you beginning to notice signs of that correction? Do those you talk to show, however little, a better understanding of the facts of the matter as represented in your message?

What's the bottom line? Behaviors, of course.

When your messages and communications tactics combine to alter a questionable perception held by members of your key, target audience, certain behaviors will soon follow. Among them, favorable mentions in the media and in individual speeches and lectures; increased patronage for your business; "corrected" perceptions by influential members of that important group of people, and many other similar signs that your message and your communications tactics have, indeed, "drawn blood."

Happily, what that adds up to is a successful public relations effort.

Please feel free to publish this article and resource box in your ezine, newsletter, offline publication or website. A copy would be appreciated at [email protected].

Robert A. Kelly © 2005.

Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to business, non-profit and association managers about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. He holds a bachelor of science degree from Columbia University, major in public relations.

Visit: http://www.prcommentary.com; [email protected]

In The News:

OneDigital Unveils Small Business Retirement Solution  National Association of Plan Advisors
Small business is backbone of the community  Bryan-College Station Eagle
Local small business awarded $10k grant  Eyewitness News (WEHT/WTVW)

The Key to Creating Total System Empowerment

In this paper, I will:1. provide a framework for creating... Read More

Direct Mail - For Small Businesses

We hear a lot of talk about junk mail nowadays.... Read More

If You Want To Be Remembered...

Send handwritten notes. That applies whether you're a guy or... Read More

Take a Break - Have a Pity Party

Pity parties are nothing new. In fact, we do it... Read More

Bringing Home the Bacon

In general, all of us know how to accomplish the... Read More

How to Increase the Cash Flow in Your Private Practice in 30 Days

If you have a busy private practice, chances are you... Read More

Small Business Success - It?s a Matter of Confidence

I was floored! I couldn't believe what they were saying!... Read More

Common Sources of Financing for Small Business

The choice of financing is an important determinant of whether... Read More

Get Approved for a Franchise

Deciding to start your own franchise is just one of... Read More

Top 10 Record Keeping Mistakes Business Owners Make (and How To Avoid Them)

If you interviewed business owners of failed businesses, a majority... Read More

Setting Up a Pressure Washer Rig to Clean Concrete

Maximum efficiency in the cleaning industry is a key to... Read More

Retail Customer Opportunities for Pressure Washing Companies

Pressure washing companies must look for customers in the retail... Read More

Grab Your Consumers Attention in a Cluttered World of Marketing Communications

A cluttered world of marketing communications diminishes the ordinary. The... Read More

Launching your Business with a Chamber of Commerce

Why are Chambers a good launching pad?Chambers provide you with... Read More

Why is My Restaurant Not Full Every Monday Night?

In a quest for customers and to keep those customers,... Read More

Small Business Spoiler - Procrastination

One of the most common issues that comes up for... Read More

Self-Employment: Do you know the Difference between Rates and Wages

The difference between rates and wages is not always clear... Read More

Passion Is Key To A Successful Business

Passion. Passion alone can make your business successful. As an... Read More

Excuses Franchisees Make; When They Violate Exclusive Territory Agreements

One of the biggest excuses franchisees of home based and... Read More

Do You Own Your Business Or Does It Own You?

What was your aim when you went into business for... Read More

Facts About Starting Elderly Group Home Businesses

There's been a recent rise in the number of elderly... Read More

Why Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Should

As the owner or an employee of a small-to medium-sized... Read More

How to Curb Antique Shop Theft Inexpensively

If you have ever had your antique shop or mall... Read More

Definition of Security: Small Business Owner

Yes, that IS security when nobody can downsize you because... Read More

Small Businesses You Can Start in Automotive

There are many choices when thinking about a small business... Read More