Money

How To Reap Profits Without Crunching Numbers

Posted on January 5, 2017 by - Also by this author

Creative Commons image license here via PublicDomainPictures.net
Creative Commons image license here via PublicDomainPictures.net
Our first-ever Money issue focuses on the DNA of every business: Hard money numbers. Business, as the subject of my cover article put it, is all about that figure at the bottom of a long P&L sheet: Net profit.

You can slice and rearrange numbers many ways, but eventually they all point to one result: Black or red. Beyond balance sheets, you can find more creative ways to bring in more revenue, but not measured in dollars. They’re called intangibles, or benefits never fully quantified in figuring a bottom line.

This leads to one of my favorite subjects: How to tell your business story through public relations, advertising, social media, blogs, video, or via a third-party written article.

The topic came up during a LCT-NLA Show East presentation from representatives of the National Limousine Association’s New York-based public relations firm, Evins. As part of a strategy to refute the deceit of transportation network companies (TNCs), the media experts advised operators to emphasize human interest angles about their companies. Such stories are about your customers and employees, assets of immeasurable value.

Evins offers a media/PR tool kit to any operator who’d like to get some positive coverage for their business and the industry. [Email [email protected] for a copy]. Here are some tips from Evins and a few from me with my spin as a former reporter:

  • In gathering information, ask: Which of your employees and clients have interesting stories to tell or would be captivating subjects for anecdotes? What has your business done that stands out in a crowd?
  • In choosing what to pitch against TNCs, ask: What does your company do better than TNCs? How does your higher rate deliver better value? What are customer offerings or fleet vehicles unique or special to your market area? How do you stay ahead of your competitors?
  • Digital media presents plenty of options for exposure and getting readers to click through to company websites. Advertising tends to be cheaper on digital platforms than for print. Online posts and links can go viral, and are more adaptable to social media. 
  • Reporters depend on outside sources for story ideas, especially in this era of digital media beasts that must be fed 24/7. Make sure you personalize your pitch to each reporter. While reporters can run in packs, they don’t like the appearance of going with the crowd. Every reporter wants to feel like the one getting a scoop.
  • Make sure press releases include new and helpful information written in a conversational style. Too many business wire press releases read like advertising fluff, and that turns off reporters. For example, a press release that starts out with, “America’s leading limousine service is the solution to special event clients. . .” will not gain much traction.
  • Websites, magazines, newspapers, and TV stations often publish editorial calendars of seasonal coverage topics and sections. You can target these media organizations at the right time with the right message, making it more likely your business can participate in coverage. Before you send your email, always think about local and national holidays and events. Stay up to date with local current events.
  • Identify as a small business, a Main Street America shop rooted in and supportive of your community. We are living in a more populist era of the little guy. You do not want to look like a conglomerate or big business.
  • Be consistent in branding and messaging your website, mobile app, social media pages, e-advertising blasts, and any printed brochures and handouts. That applies to logos, slogans, images, word choice, and formats. Look and sound the same no matter where a reporter, or a client, finds you. 
  • Emails should be simple yet noticeable, but not gimmicky or click-baity. Get to the point on what you offer and how you can help. 
  • Although phone calls often seem inconvenient, and younger generations prefer texting and emails, I believe a live call or VM message following an email enhances credibility. Take a chance and pick up the phone to follow up. How else to promote human interest stories than being human?

Remember, media outlets are also businesses with profits tied to consumption, all driven by interesting content. How can your story or timely information make their content more engaging? The relationship is mutual: You need exposure and they need eyeballs.

Aside from the metrics of digital advertising and social media, you may never know how many people did business with you because they saw or heard you on a media venue. Such positive brand association can pay off at any time, over time. A local reader of a digital newspaper may do business with you six months later, and never say why or how the connection came about. Or the reader could just pass you on to a prospect who never saw you.

Whether from satisfied customers, media consumers, or social media followers, the old concept of word-of-mouth means more now than ever.

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