Public Relations (PR)


Public Relations is the management function that evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance. In other words a good public relations program has three steps:

  1. Listen to the public: Public relations starts with good marketing research (evaluates public attitudes).
  2. Develops policies and procedures that are in the public interest: One does not earn understanding by bombarding the public with propaganda; one earns understanding by having programs and practices in the public interest.
  3. Inform people of the fact that you are being responsive to their needs: It is not enough to simply have programs that are in the public interest. You have to tell the public about those programs so that they know you are being responsive.

Publicity is one of the major functions of the public relations department. Publicity is any information about an individual, a product, or an organization that is distributed to the public through the media and that is not paid for, or controlled by, the sponsor.

Other activities include:

  • Establishing contact with civic groups, consumer organizations, and other concerned citizens to learn their views of the organization, to answer their questions, and to provide information (or education).
  • Opening lines of communication with customers, suppliers, distributors, retailers, stockholders, government agencies, educators, and community leaders.
  • Conducting studies to find the economic, environmental, and social consequences of organizational practices and to learn how to make a more positive contribution to customers, stakeholders, and society.
  • Providing any assistance needed to adjust the goals, policies, practices, personnel policies, products, and programs of the organization to meet the needs of changing markets.
  • Assisting all members of the firm in developing effective programs of consumer information and education.
  • Sending speakers to schools, clubs, and other such groups to maintain an open dialogue with students and other socially active members of society.
  • Creating incentives for employees to participate in public-affairs activities such as raising funds for charitable groups.
  • Answering consumer and other complaints promptly and correcting whatever it was that caused the complint.
  • Training employees or volunteers to provide prompt, friendly, courteous, and helpful service to anyone who contacts the organization in person, by phone, or written correspondence.
  • Demonstrating to society the organization is listening, reacting, adjusting, and progressing in its attempt to satisfy its diverse publics.
  • Opening two-way communications with employees to generate favorable employee opinion and to motivate employees to speak well of the organization to others.

This is an incomplete description of all the activities and responsibilities of the PR people, but it at least gives some feeling for what they do.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

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Product Knowledge


You have to be expert before you even start your business. The old saying, “We learn by our mistakes” will not do your business reputation any good if it applies to your lack of expertise. You have to know your products or service inside out. You may love a business for the product lines, but will your customers love the products too? When problems arise with a product, or when a customer asks technical questions, are you knowledgeable enough to resolve these problems and answer their questions competently and confidently?

One way to increase your product knowledge is to contact the manufacturers or local distributor. They are usually happy to send you product information and answer your questions. Some of the questions you should research about your product lines (or service) are these:

  • How long have these products been on the market?
  • Are they seasonal, and when do most sell?
  • How often are these products upgraded or changed?
  • Could you be caught unexpectedly with obsolete inventory?
  • What do the manufacturers’ warranties cover?
  • Are replacement parts readily available?
  • Are the products competitively priced?
  • Are buying trends increasing or decreasing?
  • Are the products high, medium, or low in quality?
  • How do the products compare to the competition?
  • What are groups do these products appeal to?
  • What is the life expectancy of the products?
  • Could the products become obsolete due to changing technology?

After these questions are answered, you may find that the business is not viable after all. The product pricing may be too high compared to the competition, or you may discover that over the previous five years, overall demand for the products is declining due to technological changes and shifts in consumer buying trends. In another five years, the demand could become substantially less. The products may appear high in quality on sight, but you may discover that they are poorly made and not something that you would feel confident selling. Perhaps the manufacturer’s guarantees are inadequate, or replacement parts are priced exorbitantly and hard to secure.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Marketing Communications Strategy


Strategies vary depending on the primary audience—customers, distributors, opinion formers, and stakeholders. The stakeholders require a message that communicates the organization’s values rather than specific offerings, whereas the customers may want specific product offerings and benefits.

Strategic options must be generated before deciding on a final strategy. It is highly unlikely that the first communications strategy that emerges is going to be the best one. Herebelow are some points to be remembered while making a strategy:

  • Objectives, strategy, tactics, action, and control.
  • Do your homework.
  • Develop some options.
  • Know your resources.
  • Win senior management support.
  • Do not hurt the environment.
  • Put everything in place before making a move.

This prepares the way for the development of good strategies. When the strategic options have been developed, they can be compared in order to determine which strategy is more likely to deliver the best result.

Remember, ‘STOP & SIT.’ Ask whether the communications strategy breaks up the market into segments and targets the right customers. Will the strategy fulfill the marketing and communications objectives? Is the positioning made crystal clear? What sequence of integrated communications tools will be used? Musts for communicators are:

  • Always define precisely your audience.
  • Avoid the predictable.
  • Keep the message simple.
  • Use power tools (images that last).
  • Say what only you can say.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Creating an Integrated Marketing Communications Program (IMC)


a)        Use zero-based budgets. Most companies use incremental approaches in allocating promotional budgets. A preferred approach is the objective and task approach. Start with a zero budget and force all promotional managers managers to justify their investment.

b)        Focus primarily on current customers. Many organizations direct 80% or more of their advertising and selling effort activities to trying to win new business (conquest marketing).  An Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program recognizes the importance of retention marketing and inverts that ratio so that a majority of the promotional activity is earmarked for relationship building with existing customers. This reduces customer defection, upgrades business relationships, and creates advocates for the firm’s services.

c)        Use highly targeted mass promotion. Direct mail, specialized lists, trade publications, and the Internet can be used effectively to reach prospects rather than suspects. A website has become an indispensable marketing technology for 21st century companies. It has evolved into a one-stop, online corporate information source, customer support tool, distribution channel, order taker, product catalog, price list, promotional vehicle, research technique, segmentation source, and a strategic and tactical marketing differentiator.

d)        Build marketing relationships. Strategic partnering is a major part of a good IMC program. In addition to Internet and intranets (protected corporation information resource centers), progressive companies are creating extranets which link an enterprise’s extended family of suppliers, distributors, retailers, and partners. Hence, customer, channel, referral, and stakeholder relationships can all be nurtured through carefully conceived promotional efforts.

e)        Note that everything an organization does send a message. Image and atmospherics are very important in communicating value to customers. The little things, such as stationery, signage, telephone greetings, and website design, etc., should all reflect professionalism and a consistent message to the marketplace.

f)          Two-way dialogue is key. In an over-communicated society, the marketing challenge is to establish a meaningful dialogue with customers as to how the firm’s service mix can provide maximum benefits/value. Interactivity and involvement on the part of the customers is important for sharing information and creating firmer bonds. The Web is an ideal medium to accomplish this objective. Its selectivity and flexibility create a customized business experience for each user.

g)        Use 21st century communication technologies. In today’s changing marketplace, companies must seek new and better ways to stay in touch with their target markets. Appropriate communication options include e-mail, electronic commerce, fax-on-demand, telemarketing, point-of-sale promotion, special events, multimedia, etc.

h)        Measure promotional effectiveness. Traditionally, advertising executives competed with sales managers for their “fair share” of the corporate promotional budget. Today, management requires accountability and demands to know and justify the return on investment of limited resources—they will no longer accept the non-measurable communications methods used by marketers in the past. A marketing information system/database is the key tool for effectively monitoring and measuring the success of an IMC program. As part of this process, job descriptions and reward systems are likely to be redesigned. In a strong IMC-centered environment, in-house competition is replaced with cooperation and teamwork. Joint rewards help the organization do what is best, rather than just project individual turfs.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Elemental Description of Supply Chain


A supply chain consists of all parties involved, directly or indirectly, in fulfilling a customer request. The supply chain not only includes the manufacturer and suppliers, but also transporters, warehouses, retailers, and customers themselves. Within each organization, such as a manufacturer, the supply chain includes all functions involved in receiving and filling a customer request. These functions include, but are not limited to new product development, marketing, operations, distribution, finance, and customer service.

A supply chain is dynamic and involves the constant flow of information, product, and funds between different stages. The customer is an integral part of the supply chain. The primary purpose for the existence of any supply chain is to satisfy customer needs, in the process generating profits for itself. Supply chain activities begin with a customer order and even when a satisfied customer has paid for his or her purchase.

The term supply chain conjures up images of product or supply moving from suppliers to manufacturers to distributors to retailers to customers along a chain. It is important to visualize information, funds, and product flows along both directions of this chain.

The term supply chain may also imply that only one player is involved at each stage. In reality, a manufacturer may receive material from several suppliers and then supply several distributors. Thus, most supply chains are actually networks. It may be more accurate to use the term supply network or supply web to describe the structure of most supply chains.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Influence


Influence is easy to obtain, because it is based on the example you set for others to see. People are influenced by those they admire or aspire to emulate. Literally, we listen to people whose success we want to duplicate. When you listen to a presentation by a leading distributor in your organization, even if you don’t know this person personally, you are influenced by the example they set. You listen to what they have to say and you apply it. Even though you have no relationship with this person, and they have no power over you, you willingly hear them out. That’s influence. Of course, you don’t have to do what they say, but the odds are you will consider it.

 

If you want to influence other people, begin by setting an example that others can aspire to and respect. That’s the first step. The second step is to communicate your message the right way.

 

Now, the best way to learn to communicate that message ia to read Dale Carnegie’s classic How To Win Friends And Influence People – perhaps the greatest book ever written on the subject. In a nutshell, you have to communicate ideas in a way that people can make them their own. You’ve seen people suggest an idea in such a way that the main man they’re talking to thinks it was his own idea. That’s an example of effective influence.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight