When we start our business we are so focused on raising the capital to get it going and cash flow to keep it going, in the same vein we should be looking at creating and continually building on our “conversation capital”.
What is that? Some call it public relations, some strategic communications and some just lump it into the marketing mix. But without it your business will remain in the dark.
Creating a conversation is a simple……
· Identify who you want to talk in your market (these are your potential clients and media who cover your market segment)
· Be clear about what you want to communicate to them – no one is interested in the fact that you have just moved into a new space or have a new staff member – what they are interested in is what you offer, why they should choose your business/service/product and what are the benefits to them.
· Like dating – you will find out all you can about the person before hand, then you will make the call and intro yourself and then take them for coffee – you will spend time preparing how you look and what you want to share with them – same process goes for your communications. Who you are and what you say, will say volumes about your business.
· In the beginning you will have to have these conversations yourself and send out the relevant information to media – but you will have met them and spent time with them and found out what they like to cover in their publications and will ensure you give them what they need.
· As the business grows you may bring in a professional conversation capitalist to help you grow your market credibility – a few tips here:
o Do they pass the “chemistry test” – if it feels right from the first conversation, follow your gut
o Do they have a track record – ask them to introduce you to some of their other clients?
o Do they know your market and the media in that sector?
o If they ask you what your business strategy is and what your company goals are for the next 6/12/18 months – this is a clear indication that they know what they are doing – it’s pointless creating conversations for your brand if they have no idea what your business goals are.
o Don’t confuse social media (Face Book & Twitter) as conversation capital – yes it’s a great to have, but you need to be very specific about what you put out into market and it needs to be managed carefully – some businesses do not need this presence as their market may not be interacting on these platforms.
o Be clear about what you want to communicate – again know that “fluff” will not be picked up by media and published – they want information/insight and industry news – so ensure that you tailor make your message to suit the market.
· Be aware of what is happening in your industry – take the time to research upcoming events/conferences/workshops for your industry and go to them, it’s a great networking opportunity and again a great platform to create conversations.
· If you see an article in print or online and you wish to add your insight to it – do so in the comments section. This opens the gateway to conversation. Never pull another brand down when trying to build your own.
· Be open and honest – do not lie – you will be found out and you and your business will lose credibility
· Be open to criticism and complaints – this gives you the opportunity to engage with the other party about your business and again develops the conversation – do not be arrogant and defensive. Acknowledge if you have made a mistake and take the appropriate steps to correct it. Remember what you put out into the market place is what will be perceived about your business.
It may sound very simple, and it is – you are what you say and if what you are saying is positive and informative it will resonate within the marketplace and soon word spreads about your brand. But be realistic – it does not happen overnight, it’s a relationship and if you want a long and happy one, well then you best invest the time and effort into it!
Ingrid von Stein is the CEO of Indigo Zebra Communications and co-founder of Biz Radio – www.indigozebra.co.za
- Conversation capital is as vital as cash flow | #BizInsight with Ingrid von Stein - August 15, 2013
- Is it possible to be ahead and behind of the curve at the same time? | #BizOpinion with Ingrid von Stein - April 18, 2013
- Let’s rather have a conversation | #BizOpinion with Ingrid von Stein - March 27, 2013
- Click, watch, engage… - April 26, 2012
- I CAN’T HEAR WHAT YOU ARE SAYING…because who you are shouts too loud! - January 20, 2012