5 Marketing Resolutions for the New Year

Whether your business is stepping into 2010 in stride or just barely limping out of 2009, you’re probably considering a few strategies to help you stay in shape this year, and there’s one that should be at the top of your list: Commit to a year of marketing. Defining goals for 2010 and outlining monthly plans at the beginning of the year may seem daunting, but when it comes down to the dirty work, this will prove considerably easier than going to the gym every week. Here are 5 marketing resolutions to keep in mind as you kick off the New Year.

1.    Don’t go into it willy-nilly. Set concrete goals and objectives. Resolving to solidify your presence in the community is just like resolving to trim three inches off your waistline – it’ll never happen unless you focus on methods instead of end results. Devote time to your marketing plan, and you’ll come out with a well thought out yearly model that complements your business. Planning ahead will not only save you time and energy down the line, but will also better prepare you for unexpected stumbling blocks.
2.    Forget the fear-mongering. Many businesses resorted to fear tactics in 2009 because of the economy, but this is a kind of sucker-punch marketing: it can work for a while, but ultimately, it cheapens public discourse. Instead of scaring people into choosing your business, set yourself apart from the crowd and be positive. You can do this by sprucing up your real selling points. And get specific. (Everyone says they’re all about customer service, but who isn’t these days? Why are customers really coming to you?) Freshen up your strategies for the New Year, but don’t lose sight of your business’s long-term identity.
3.    Become the expert. At Riley Communications, we champion expertise as a way to sell your business — after all, everyone wants to work with the industry pace-setter. Educate the public by tweeting, giving talks, or helping out reporters; in short, take advantage of every medium to showcase your skills and experience. If you can become the authority in your industry by sharing your knowledge for free, you’ll be top-of-mind when people need a reference.
4.    Learn about social media. For some, this may seem like old news, but I can’t emphasize enough how many ways a business can harness new social media forums. This may not be the best long-term path for your business, but you should understand the power of Facebook and know how to check Twitter to see if your organization is being discussed. Social media is just another method of communication that can help you build relationships with customers, or, at the very least, make you more aware of your customers’ needs and opinions.
5.    Shoot for the stars. Get creative and integrate your campaigns. Take advantage of all the opportunities available to you – from using social media to bring in more clients and coverage, to targeting the great number of business and local publications that could feature your business aside from regular advertising. Take, for example, the excellent chef from Terra, a locally owned restaurant in Columbia, who got national airtime on NPR. There’s no reason your small business can’t achieve similar marketing heights.  Don’t be afraid of having a vision, as long as you stay true to your core principles and have concrete strategies to reach your goals.

To Tell the Truth: Eli Lilly and Zyprexa

Our parents instilled it in us at a young age: be honest. Our marketing professors certainly touted the same message: tell the truth. So what happens when we ignore the advice of our elders? Ask major pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly, who recently settled billion dollar lawsuits with over 30 states, including South Carolina, for allegedly fraudulently marketing their antipsychotic drug and top seller, Zyprexa.
Zyprexa is approved for treating patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. While doctors can prescribe medications for off-label uses, it is illegal for sales representatives to market off-label uses to physicians. Over 30 state attorneys general held that Eli Lilly was doing just that by promoting the drug’s possible benefits for pediatrics, dementia and depression treatment in addition to not fully disclosing harmful side effects.  Eli Lilly paid $1.42 billion dollars to end the criminal probe and settle civil suits.  The company still claims no wrongdoing in the civil suits but pled guilty to a misdemeanor to the FDA for promoting off-label dementia treatment usage of Zyprexa.

For a drug that has brought in $37 billion in revenue, $1.42 billion may seem like pocket change, but that figure doesn’t consider Eli Lilly’s loss in the court of public opinion. When 45 states take some form of legal action against a company for its alleged illegal actions and dishonesty, especially when it pertains to health, people notice.

As public relations professionals, we always stress to our clients that honesty is the best policy. As Eli Lilly tries to rebuild its image and reputation, the public’s trust and confidence in pharmaceuticals and big business continues to fall during the current economic climate.