Marketing Triage

By Dr. Maurice A. Ramirez

The role of Business Triage has never been more important than in the world of marketing. What does the medical term “triage” have to do with business? Nothing if everything is going well. However, when a marketing emergency takes place many authors, speakers and consultants will tell you to feed your business money, lots of money. While money is needed to make a business grow, in a resource-limited environment, undirected money is not how to stop your bottom line from bleeding red.

You need to protect your business by sorting and prioritizing resources into the following four groups:

1) Education

2) Public Relations

3) Marketing

4) Advertising

Many of you are wondering how to get four groups out of what most business owners see as two spending categories. Be assured, these must be four separate spending accounts in your ledger, if not you’ll have empty bank account.

Education: The concept of the highly educated business professional is not new, but education is so much more than course work and technical expertise. It includes investing in mentoring for yourself; and being a mentor to others. It also includes becoming a member of your professional associations.

How much should you spend on education? It is recommend three to five percent of your gross business income. If you are still in the first two to three years of a new business, double that! If you are still operating off your business loan or investment funds, 6% to 10% of total yearly expenses should be budgeted to education.

Public Relations: When it comes to Public Relations (PR), Marketing and Advertising, the situation becomes a little more complex. The first problem is that in most small business owner’s minds, these are synonymous terms. They are not.

Public Relations is the establishment of you and your company as the recognized expert within a specific demographic, geographic and/or professional group. This can also be known as “Branding.” Thus Public Relations is the process of Branding. PR should position you as the expert’s expert.

Marketing: Marketing is the association of your established brand with products and or services in the mind of a particular person, demographic, geographic and/or professional group. A “market” is that identifiable person, demographic, geographic and/or professional group. While public relations is the process of branding, marketing is the process of “establishing the brand.”

Advertising: Advertising is the establishment of a sense of need for a product or service in the mind of you market. Even if your market knows your name (brand) and your products/services, if they do not know that they need your products or services, they will never buy! On the other hand, if they feel the need for your product and you have established your brand, they will seek you out.

So how much should you spend on PR, Marketing and Advertising? If you want success, spend 10% to 20% of gross revenue. Again, if you are a start-up still operating on loans or investment capital, budget 20% of that money per year for this process.

This answer reflects the progressive nature of this process. In this case, one sum of money should be allocated for the entire process of PR, Marketing and Advertising. At first, the entire amount will be spent on PR, with little Marketing or Advertising. Your target market needs to know you are the expert. As you become the recognized expert (one to two years), spending on Marketing increases and spending on PR decreases. This will overlap the one to two years for PR. Finally, you will be established as the expert and your brand will be established in your market by your marketing. This is when you will begin to shift spending to advertising. Again there will be overlap, but don’t expect to spend much on advertising until at least a year after you begin a well planned PR program and at least six months after you begin a highly targeted marketing plan.

Putting It All Together: Several years ago an advertising battle like nothing ever seen took place. Over the years, a doctor’s clinic had become the dominant practice in the county, but a new doctor in town had arrived with a very successful PR, marketing and advertising campaign. To counter this new threat, the established doctor began running full page ads for his own clinic. An ad writer was hired who wrote several ingenious pieces of advertising. The doctor personally reviewed each ad to ensure it was ethical and in good taste. Every ad ran as the doctor had intended, except one. In this disastrous ad, the promise at the bottom of the ad was supposed to read,

“When you visit the clinic, you’ll be seen by the doctor”

Instead, at the bottom of the ad in one inch print was the promise:

“When you visit the clinic, you’ll be seen by a real doctor.”

Every physician in town was outraged. The implication was that the established doctor considered himself the only “real doctor” in town. He was mortified. Before the conversation around town could spiral out of control, he sent letters to every other doctor expressing his sincere apology. The established doctor also fired his ad writer and in his letter promised never to run another ad implying that somehow medical care at his office was better.

The clinic had learned one of the vital lessons from the disaster field office, re-task resources to achieve extraordinary results. Like the established doctor triaged the resources available and the needs his image and marketing faced. He learned that even in the face of a marketing disaster, the lessons learned in the disaster field office provide insights missed by the casual observer.

Read other articles and learn more about Dr. Maurice Ramirez.

[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis. Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and requirements.]

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