How Public Relations Can Improve Your Business Development

Planning, Developing and Executing your business strategy should always include Public Relations. Public Relations by Webster’s definition is the business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, firm, or institution; also: the degree of understanding and goodwill achieved. With today’s focus on transparency and the use of technology to search for products and business, it is vital to business development, that a company maintain goodwill and understanding.

In health care we have used the same methods of public relations for decades (Newspapers, magazines, flyers, newsletters, radio advertisement, billboards, and TV). Media today includes numerous online methods and blogs. Communication is almost instant. Negative Public Relations can be a disaster to a business and destroy its credibility in the market place. Utilizing the appropriate tools for positive public relations on a routine basis can help build a foundation for any company to fall back on during damaging times. Hypothetical example: Have you ever watched the news and seen a business under attack for an honest and genuine mistake? Wonder what that mistake cost? How they would fix it? Question how it happened? Negative Public Relations destroys a company’s reputation and identity.

Business Development is a company’s strategy for marketing, branding, and selling its product for an operational gain. When I evaluate a company’s business development plan I am focused on three primary areas: Market/Marketing, Information Management, and Customer Experience. Only assessing one or two of these areas can lead to inaccurate data and results. All three are needed to determine the best route for success. Evaluating these three areas will allow for you and your business to identify your customer or market, decide what information is needed, and how you would promote a positive experience. Example: In health care, our client, customer, patient needs a service. Knowing what they specifically need allows us, the company, an opportunity to provide all the information so they can make an informed decision. After the service has been provided we use tools to calculate how well we provided a positive customer experience.

Public Relations (PR) has a new look! In 2012 we will see social media platforms establish a stronger presence in many business development plans. Getting your brand to market and establishing goodwill in your community can and will give your business the competitive advantage, help to mitigate risk, and allow for transparency to the public. A strong Public Relation campaign will improve your business.

Building Blocks of Business Development

Everyone has dreamt of becoming his/ her own boss. And the way to do this is by putting up a business. However, only a few people have realized their plans and much fewer succeed at it. People say that businessmen, aside from having the money to start their own business, have a certain skill which few people are blessed with. They are risk-takers. Business development in some way is like gambling. An entrepreneur invests money, time and effort into a venture that has a fifty-fifty success to failure ratio. This is the very reason why a lot of dreamers do not pursue their business ambitions. Successful businessmen have mastered and formulated their own recipe for success but it all boils down to careful planning. Because they may be risk-takers but they are also careful planners.

There is no definite formula in business development. There are different strategies that can be formulated depending on the nature and size of the business itself. But there are factors that should not be left out and it applies to all.

  1. Recognize the opportunity. Assess the market. Identify what is out there and what is not offered yet. In determining the business venture to tap into, the status and the demand of the market need to be considered and its potential evaluated. A reason for putting up a business is not only because there is something to offer but there should also be a market to offer it to.
  2. Customers come first. The business should revolve around the customer. After all, they are the ones who will keep the business alive. It is important to get to know the target market, to identify not only their needs and wants but what they potentially need or want which they do not know yet. But the population is enormous so it is also necessary to identify the most profitable customers. Hence, the primary target has to be separated from the secondary market. However, demographics should not be the only focus. There should also be a behavioural and lifestyle analysis of the customers.
  3. How to reach them. By knowing the customer, target points will then be determined. Where are these customers likely to be found or how to get to them? This involves the different media that the target utilizes in a day-to-day basis such as TV, Radio, Print, billboard, point of sale, Internet, etc.
  4. How to sell. Once the target’s whereabouts is identified, the next step is to use sweet spots to get them to buy. What can attract their attention and what can convince them. Do they respond to sales promotion or do they rely on word of mouth, etc.
  5. Generate repeat business. Satisfy the customers and exceed their expectations not only to keep them under the radar but also to generate good publicity.

Nothing is a hundred percent sure but business development should also not be a hit and miss. It’s risky but careful planning and perseverance will increase the likeliness to succeed.

Business Development Certificate – Steps to Earning a Certificate

Many people are now turning to online courses to supplement their current business knowledge. This includes earning a business development certificate, which is a credential that is beneficial in a variety of different sectors. Whether you are working in sales, public relations, event planning, or any other different areas of the business world, you will want to be sure that your knowledge and skills are up to date with what is going on in the market today. This type of certificate can be earned completely online, from the comfort of your own home, which makes it a convenient option for the business professional or home executive.

The first step to achieving your business development certificate is to attend the online courses, and do the required reading. This will give you all the knowledge that you need to study for the eventual exam at the end of the course’s progression. During the course itself you will be under the supervision of your qualified instructor, who is able to facilitate discussions, and ensure that any questions that you may have will be answered. Some homework or discussion questions may need to be completed before attending online seminars, to help facilitate this level of group discussion.

After the coursework part of the business development certificate course has been completed, the next step is then to start studying for the exam. There is an official business development exam that all professionals are required to take to receive this credential. All of the information that you need to know will have been already covered within the online coursework and reading material that you have already covered during the initial five months of the course study. However, it’s recommended to go over it again on your own time just as a refresher course, to be sure that you are able to pass the exam without problems.

On exam day, you will then need to complete the questions that are asked, and possibly write an essay in some courses. At the completion of this exam, if you have answered an adequate amount of questions correctly, you will then be awarded the official business development certificate. This will then let you go on to have access to a wider range of opportunities, including the possibility to advance further within your own business, but also to find a new company to work for. Any added credentials are always a good idea to be competitive in today’s job market.

Business Development Strategies in Legal Publishing Can Work for You

Hoping people will buy your published material or products will be the death of your business! No longer is the traditional one-way publishing model or company-centric thinking acceptable or profitable. According to Mark Rousseau, General Manager for Findlaw/Lexpert at Thomson Carswell, “You need to find out what the client’s needs are and develop products and services to address those needs to succeed in today’s business world.”

Let’s take for example, Mark Rousseau’s growth mandate of 30% compounded growth over the next 5 years. How does he plan to achieve this? According to Mark, they are undertaking a number of business development initiatives to meet their division’s growth objective.

Thomson Carswell acquired Lexpert Magazine in 2004 from entrepreneur and publisher John Alexander Black and hired Mark Rousseau who has more than 20 years of publishing experience to operate and grow the business. The staff size has since doubled from 15 to 30 employees. According to Mark, “the only other thing that has changed is billing and IT which has been centralized with Thomson Carswell’s operations”. The entrepreneurial operation of the publication itself has remained intact.

Always thinking of ways to grow the business, Mark Rousseau has shifted their advertising focus to include new potential advertisers in the business-to-business and luxury goods categories. This makes perfect sense when you realize that the average corporate reader’s annual income is in excess of $150,000!

If you want to be viewed as an industry leader, be the first to do something different! Lexpert is leading the way by planning and hosting the first ever Rising Stars Awards show this November for the top 40 Canadian Corporate Counsel and Leading Lawyers in private practice under age 40, in partnership with The Globe and Mail. This out of the box thinking has also led to other innovative initiatives. According to Mark Rousseau, the pilot for their business development course was so successful last year that they are planning to do six 1 ½ days business development courses in 2006. Each course will be taught by a leading lawyer in a specific practice area with his/her own unique course material for a maximum of 30 corporate counsel and senior level executives.

Building strategic partnerships is not a new idea but if you are able to leverage your partnerships like Lexpert has done with the two national dailies in Canada, National Post and The Globe & Mail, you too can have a captive audience of senior business executives in exchange for current and relevant corporate deal news. Once a week, features from Lexpert’s Big Deals column appear in the Legal Post section of the National Post; and coming soon, a new deal with The Globe and Mail which takes effect on Oct 1, 2006 will further assist Lexpert’s clients in reaching their target market of Canadian business executives.

Lexpert, now part of the global information powerhouse Thomson Corporation, understands the importance of leverage. Through joint initiatives with their U.S. sister companies Thomson West (the largest legal information provider in the U.S.) and Findlaw (a popular U.S. legal Internet site), Lexpert has been able to successfully enter the U.S. legal marketplace and reach 15,000 U.S. Corporate Counsel and 10,000 Leading U.S. lawyers with their magazine. They now do a 25,000 mailing twice a year in the U.S. market with the help of their U.S. siblings, to provide valuable exposure for their Canadian advertising clients and to increase the magazine’s readership beyond Canadian borders.

With an increasing base of web savvy clients, Mark Rousseau also plans to have everything in print, available online and has a team of web developers revamping their corporate web site at http://www.lexpert.ca to improve their users’ navigational experience. For example, if you are a corporate lawyer, you will be directed to view information on the site that is relevant to you.

Lexpert is certainly no stranger to launching successful products into the legal marketplace. Their print publications like “Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory”; “Lexpert/American Lawyer Media Guide to the Leading Top 500 Lawyers in Canada”; “Lexpert/CCCA Directory and Yearbook”; and “Lexpert Law Student & Associate Recruitment Guide” have all been well received by their intended markets. Even their much anticipated online product Deal Monitor, currently under development and slated to be released before the end of this year, is bound to be another huge success as this product promises to address the needs and demands of their key clients.

With assistance from Thomson Financial and Thomson West, this database will consist of Canadian and U.S. based corporate deals dating back 5 years. This online subscription tool will have analytical capabilities such as trending with historical data, customized search capabilities, and the ability to produce custom graphs and much more. According to Mark, they are not a magazine but “a vehicle to help their clients develop their business”. He contributes much of their success to the close relationships they have developed with their clients.

For those starting a publishing business, he recommends focusing on the web, as the print publishing industry is saturated and a tough model to build and sustain. He also suggests that you get audience generated content to guarantee the readership of your publication.

The moral of this story, no matter what industry you are from, finding out what your clients’ needs are and developing products and services to address those needs is the key to your company’s success and profitability.

Article Summary of Best Practices for Business Development:

– Find out what your clients’ needs are and develop products and services to address those needs

– Create a solid business plan to help achieve your company’s growth objective

– Research the demographics of your target audience to expand in the right direction

– Be the first out of the box with something new in your industry

– Create opportunities to allow your clients to demonstrate their expertise

– Form and leverage strategic partnerships

– Invest in the development of products and services that your target market needs & would pay for

– Create a company web site that is easy to navigate and provides a good user experience

– Have your products and services available online

– Focus on building partnership relationships with your clients

– Research the industry you are thinking of entering

– Survey your clients or potential clients for new ideas