I’ve written literally thousands of blog posts and articles throughout my career—but this one is special, because I really believe it has the power to change the trajectory of any business, including yours.

After working with hundreds of business owners and corporate leaders across many different industries over the years, in my mind what separates the ones who run successful businesses from the ones who struggle to generate revenue and grow it all comes down to the ability to answer the following three questions clearly and accurately, because the answers form the basis of any effective business strategy and business development effort.

So here are the three questions below. See if you can answer them in detail without hesitation or if you feel any uncertainty or ambiguity when you try—and if you are having trouble with the questions or the answer to the third question isn’t a resounding yes, then we need to talk!

You can use this strategy sheet to write them down or record them on your favorite device—but do write the answers out because that’s how you’ll get the intended clarity about how to boost your business growth.

1. Whose problems does your product or service solve? Be specific here…the most successful businesses are niche-focused and meet the needs of particular segments of a population, not the general population. You might have more than one type of customer that you solve problems for—that’s great! Write them all down.

2. How does your product and service solve their problems the most effectively? Here’s your chance to clarify why what your business offers is the best choice for the person who has the particular problem you identified above. So go on, brag on what you provide—or make not of any improvements you think you should make to be an even better solution!

3. Are all of the people whose problems you solve aware that you provide the best solution? So here’s the real kicker question for so many businesses…they have an awesome solution to a problem, but the people who need it don’t know about it and that is why their business is not growing like it could—or should be—this is the problem we help businesses solve at The Bona Fide Business Guide .

The right marketing strategy and plan can eliminate this problem for your business by allowing you to:

a) Know exactly what will motivate your specific audience to buy your product or service. Once you are clear on who you are specifically solving a problem for, you also need to understand how that problem impacts them emotionally, physically and in terms of the pain they experience, avoiding this pain is what gives them the motivation to buy your product or service.

b) Deliver the right message at the right time to the right people so they have the information they need to solve their problem with the best solution—which is the one your business provides.

c) Keep them engaged with your business so that when they (or someone they refer to you) need to solve their problem again—or a related problem that you can solve—you are their go-to provider.

These three steps are the most effective solution to the problem of not having the kind of business growth you need. We’ve helped hundreds of businesses solve this problem with more effective growth and marketing strategies, we can help you, too. Let us know if you need this kind of help by scheduling a strategy session to talk through solutions.

 BONUS QUESTION: Do the people whose problems you solve agree you provide the best solution? Please note—the question is not, “Do you think that you do a good job serving your customers?” It’s whether they think you are the best solution they can find. If you don’t have any objective idea (in the form of survey responses, testimonials, verbal or written feedback, and reviews) then it’s time to find out by asking them!

So how did you do? Are you crystal clear about whose problems you are solving, why your business provides the best solution to their problem, and whether the people whose problem you can solve are aware that you have the solution they need? If so, your business should be humming along the way you want it to If it is, congratulations!

If you couldn’t write down specific answers or the answers gave you pause for thought about your strategy or how your product or service is performing, now’s the time to take action by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with me. I’d love to learn more about your specific challenges and help you create a plan to solve them.

Simply schedule a complimentary strategy session here and we’ll work through an action plan for growing your business.

Public relations (PR) is a powerful (and economical) tool for building a positive reputation for your business (and yourself). Most often, people think of “PR” as unpaid opportunities to tell your story through channels such as traditional media, social media, live presentations and interviews in other formats such as podcasts, but on the flipside, PR skills are also necessary should a crisis situation arise when you need to communicate vital information (pandemic updates, anyone?) or if your company’s or your own reputation is at risk.

Without a plan, PR is an uphill battle

This post focuses on the fundamentals of PR because in my experience, so few small businesses have a separate and ongoing strategy in this area. The thought by business owners about PR is often, “When we ‘need’ PR then we’ll start trying to get our message out through the media.” This is an approach that usually breeds frustration because without having a targeted audience, measurable goals and objectives and a well-thought out plan for achieving them valuable PR opportunities are difficult to obtain.

PR only works if you work it

While PR “coverage” is technically free, you still have to “earn” media by investing time in establishing your credibility, doing your research about the audience of the media outlet you are targeting and providing value to reporters and other media stakeholders. Bottom line—you are not going to be successful “getting press” if you are not committed to being a reliable, credible and available resource. Journalists and purveyors of other PR-worthy platforms move quickly, you need to be able to give them what they need when they need it.

PR is a two-way street and a long-term proposition

Another common error I run into when working with clients who want to start a PR program is that they want the instant gratification of immediate coverage. Trying to get “vanity” coverage of yourself or your company in high-profile media outlets is unlikely to be a fruitful endeavor unless you have a truly compelling story.

Too many business owners operate with an ad hoc approach to PR, simply seizing on “opportunities” they think they see. Your PR efforts will be most effective and have the most impact if you are strategic, consistent and work to  build credibility and relationships over time.

Think about PR opportunities using a three-tier strategy

For small businesses and entrepreneurs, I suggest thinking about PR opportunities in three different tiers:

1) Operational announcements for things such as employee promotions, investor updates and community activities. These are opportunities you might write a press release for and send to local or industry media as well as posting them on your company blog or news page and also social media for SEO purposes.

2) Newsworthy organizational announcements which might be a major development in your product or service or a high-profile award that someone in your organization has won. Again you would send a release to a select list of media that would be genuinely interested in this kind of company news and it would also be something to post as a release on your blog and social media.

3) The last segment is generally the most sought-after kind of exposure and takes the most effort. These are interviews or published articles in high profile media channels. These opportunities generally require a well-crafted proactive PR pitch based on careful research and a strategic approach to garnering media interest.

Proactive pitches are more difficult than self-publishing on existing platforms, but they can yield the high reward, high value exposure that can really put an entrepreneur or a company on the map. Obviously the more well-know the media outlet or channel, the more people are trying to pitch their stories and companies.

There are a few considerations to keep in mind:

How to be an everyday PR hero

While many companies are looking for external gratification when they first start looking at PR opportunities, it is worth remembering that valuable thought leadership exposure can be achieved by simply connecting with media outlets and platforms that are aligned with an area that you have deep expertise in.

Publishing articles regularly on topics for which you want you or your company to be seen as experts in is a good strategy to start with—LinkedIn is a great platform for this, but so are industry blogs and professional associations you might be affiliated with. Don’t discount being a guest on someone else’s webinar, either, this boosts your reach and your credibility.

Another key element of a good and affordable PR strategy is to make connections with journalists who cover your industry or area of expertise. You can find many journalists on Twitter, check out their profiles and tweets to see what they are interested in and covering so that you can reach out to them when they could use your expertise. You can also be proactive and be your own best PR pal by establishing a newsroom and media resource on your website where you can post announcements, articles and press releases then share to social media.

Publicity—the final piece of your PR plan

Once you are successful getting media coverage, be sure to share the good news by sharing links to articles or broadcast clips featuring your company on your website, in your email newsletter and on social media. Sharing these links will not only let the world know about the good things you and your company are doing, but they will also help to increase your online authority and visibility.

Copyright 2020 Bona Fide Business Guide