So What Are You Saying, Exactly?

Many small business owners do not see themselves as consummate marketers. If this sounds like you, there may be a temptation to cover all bases when communicating with your audience.

More specifically, you may be lobbying to get customers in the door right away. On the other hand, you may deem it necessary to demonstrate that you are a company with a heart and are in tune with pertinent causes. And somewhere in between, you may have the desire to simply get your name out there. These are great aspirations; however, they become problematic when misused or are crammed into one piece of communication or a commercial.

It is important to understand that there are three major ways to speak to your audience - each serving vastly different purposes. The three are: PR (public relations), Traditional Marketing/Advertising and DR (direct-response).

As you craft your message, try to focus on one method rather than jamming everything into one commercial or piece.

PR (Public Relations)This form of communication is designed to win the hearts and minds of the audience – often to the exclusion of product/service promotion. PR-related messages are designed to resonate with the moral compass of your audience. For the most part, it demonstrates that your company has a vision beyond profitability alone. PR is an obvious choice for those reacting to bad press; however it’s a far better tool when used proactively. In the end, the best customers are those who trust, respect and feel good about you.

Traditional Marketing/AdvertisingThis form of communication is most common for small businesses. Messages formed in this model are designed to create top-of-mind-awareness for your company. In other words, when a customer is ready to make a purchase, you want to be the first business they think of. Traditional Marketing is challenging because it requires focus and most of all, patience. That’s because many of the people that you communicate with are not ready to buy now. Many have discovered that branding (themed marketing messages) is the best way to maintain a rapport with the audience until purchase-time comes.

DR (Direct-Response)

DR marketing is most effective when seeking those who are looking for your product right now. Its approach, like its name suggests, is quite direct. This form of marketing is designed to get the audience on the phone, web or in your store immediately (think infomercial). Despite the sometimes crass approach, DR ads are quite scientific and complex in application. Hence, those that merely try this method are often met with failure. Be aware that businesses oftentimes hire firms that specialize in this very unique way of communicating due to its precise nature. So before telling your audience, “Be the next 100 to call…” read up and do your homework on this form of advertising.

Walter Dailey is a marketing speaker and proven creative professional. He’s the lead consultant and executive producer for Dailey Sound Vector Media, a creative services organization that specializes in commercial, jingle and marketing campaign development for small businesses throughout the US.  Ask Walter your questions at