By Richard Rutigliano, PriMedia Inc.
There is a lot of potential value in a great reputation. If your business has earned the respect of its customers or clients, you are sitting on a reservoir of goodwill that you can leverage for greater success. Sadly, that value can dissipate rapidly if you do not cultivate it with care.
I am talking about a certain kind of risk management - of opportunities and so-called "opportunity costs." For anyone unfamiliar with the latter term, the website Investopedia.com defines it like this: "The cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action. Put another way, the benefits you could have received by taking an alternative action." Companies that only "do what we do best" rather than take the risk of launching and marketing new services could pay "opportunity costs" for a conservative approach.
Adding new capabilities is challenging, no doubt, and it's also only half of the battle: You must follow through with aggressive marketing and sales in order to capitalize. As you take new services to market, it is often necessary to redefine the company, starting within your customer base. Customers have a perception of you that confines you to a certain role, based on the products and services they use now. Perception is malleable, however, and you have the ability to reframe yourself.
While you are getting the services themselves up and running, work on a marketing plan. Retain a marketing agency and work closely with them, starting with the big picture stuff. Explain your short-term and long-term objectives, and have in-depth conversations about how you want customers or clients to perceive you. This can be an invigorating process that literally changes the fortunes of your company and takes you to a whole new level.
Once you have formulated a reasonable set of goals and a strategy for achieving them, go to work on your corporate image and message. With your marketing firm, pick and choose which elements of your image and message are effective and how you will use them. Going forward you will want to be perfectly consistent with key elements such as your logo, tagline and color scheme. If you already have elements that are familiar and work well, plan on modernizing them to reflect your new direction. If you have been inconsistent with your color scheme and/or typography or you lack an identifiable logo, develop those core elements now.
At the same time, develop and hone a corporate message, and think of it the same way job seekers think of a co-called "elevator speech." Your core message should be the answer you give when someone asks, "Why should I go with your company?" Again, take your time on this stage. It's a great opportunity to focus on what really matters at your company and put it into words.
With your image and message squared away, you are ready to reposition the company as something much greater and more valuable than that you are today. Work with your agency to develop a marketing strategy that anticipates the sales strategy and supports it every step of the way.
If you'd like help updating your company's message and image, please contact me at 800-796-3342 or firstname.lastname@example.org. PriMedia is based in Garden City.