I am sure that this is neither an original thought nor even an original way of phrasing it. In fact, I am willing to bet a fine dinner that I picked this particular phrase up as I was mentored in business. I am equally sure that long before choosing my first mentor I applied this rule in my other businesses. I have been blessed by a higher being and this advice, so here it is:
“Feed your business and your business will feed you!”
The trick is what to feed your business. Many authors, speakers and consultants will tell you to feed your business money, lots of money. I’ve made this mistake and urge you to learn from my error. While money is needed to start a new business and make a business grow, undirected money is NOT the food your business needs.
Similarly, I have heard and read many claim that time is the critical element that feeds your speaking career. I’ve spent countless hours doing things I am really bad at because those more successful have told me that if I only spend more time making cold calls or selling product I’ll “get better at it.” I never did.
Over the years and 2 careers spanning over 20 years, I learned that you feed your business like you feed yourself. You feed your business a balanced diet from the 4 business food groups:
Many of you are wondering how I get four groups out of what most business owners see as two spending categories. Let me assure you, these MUST be 4 spending accounts in your ledger, if not you’ll have an empty calendar and an empty bank account.
The concept of the highly educated professional is not new. “Education to the Power of Eloquence” was the Nationals Speakers Association (NSA) theme in 2003-2004. “Education through Eloquence – Eloquence through Education” is my company’s catch phrase, but education is so much more than course work and technical expertise. Education includes investing in mentoring for you and being a mentor to others. It also includes becoming a member of your Professional Associations.
How much should you spend on education? I recommend 3% to 5% of your gross business income. If you are still in the first 2 to 3 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.
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 is also known as “Branding.” Thus Public Relations is the process of Branding. At this stage, it is almost irrelevant what your PR says as long as it positions you as the expert’s expert.
“Marketing” is 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” 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” and you have established your brand, they will seek you out.
So how much should you spend on PR, Marketing and Advertising? The 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 (1 to 2 years), spending on Marketing increases and spending on PR decreases. This will overlap the 1 to 2 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 their will be overlap, but don’t expect to spend much on advertising until at least 1 year after you begin a well planned PR program and at least 6 months after you begin a highly targeted marketing plan.
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. The money I have spent on a well orchestrated Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising program has rewarded my career 10 fold.
In each profession which I have built businesses, I have seen a direct correlation between the publicity and placements from my PR firm and my calls for speaking engagements. I have been able to fill my calendar and raise my fees twice this year thanks to my PR firm’s work alone. Once I added Marketing to the mix, my calendar became so full that I actually had to block an entire 6 weeks for just one client (32 sites!) My advertising program is in its infancy, but I anticipate enough growth that I split the seminar portion of my business into a separate company and took two partners. We are already booked out 3 months.
Anyone who wants to increase their profits will get great results if they just remember:
Feed your business and your business will feed you!