Leveraging PR To Boost Your Marketing Efforts

Welcome to the Rialto Marketing Podcast. Today's episode is a Revenue Acceleration Series episode where we talk to 7-figure B2B professional service firm owners that are actively trying to grow their business and get to the next level. We talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly so that you can learn from their experience.

Join Tim Fitzpatrick and Jeff Chandler for this week’s episode of The Rialto Marketing Podcast!

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Leveraging PR To Boost Your Marketing Efforts


Tim Fitzpatrick
Welcome to the Rialto Marketing Podcast. Today's episode is a Revenue Acceleration Series episode where we talk to 7-figure B2B professional service firm owners that are actively trying to grow their business and get to the next level. We talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly so that you can learn from their experience. Hi, I am Tim Fitzpatrick with Rialto Marketing, where we believe you must remove your revenue roadblocks if you want to accelerate growth. Thank you so much for taking the time to tune in today. Really excited to have with me today Jeff Chandler from Z-JAK Technologies. Jeff, welcome. And thanks for taking the time.

Jeff Chandler
Yeah, thanks for having me.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I'm looking forward to digging into this with you. I think there's a lot to learn from the conversation we're going to have today, but before we jump into that, I want to ask you a few rapid fire questions. You ready to go?

Jeff Chandler
Let's go.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Okay, very quickly, what do you do and how long have you been doing it?

Jeff Chandler
Yes. So I run an IT services firm, so we provide cybersecurity services and IT managed services to our clients. I've been doing IT for 35 years. This is my third business I've started, and this particular one I've been doing about two and a half years.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Awesome. I don't want to go too far off subject, but can you really offer IT services without offering cyber at this point?

Jeff Chandler
No. And we tell people we start with a cyber first security model in mind, and then back into the IT services because everything has to be wrapped around your cybersecurity.

Tim Fitzpatrick
It seems to me that if you're not offering cyber, you're missing, like, a huge piece of the IT puzzle here.

Jeff Chandler
Right. Exactly.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. That's crazy. So what's the most important lesson that you've learned in running your business?

Jeff Chandler
Yeah, it's always been focus. It seems like when you start a business, you see that the next little squirrel you got to chase, and just focusing on the right things, focusing on the plan, and continuing to grow the business. Don't chase all those things that come along. Know what your goal is, what's your end goal, what you're trying to do, and just focus on letting go.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Jeff, you're speaking my language like you're just throwing me softballs here. Focus, planning so important on the marketing side of things. We take the exact same approach right. As business owners, whether it's marketing or anything else. There's so much information out there that's coming at us, and if we don't have a plan, that helps us gain clarity and identify what our priorities are so we know what to focus on. You are that squirrel chasing a nut.

Jeff Chandler
Right.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Gosh, it's just so hard to get traction when you're in that place.

Jeff Chandler
Exactly.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So I love that. That's a fantastic piece of advice. We all know growing a business is hard. There's a lot of work we're going to hit roadblocks, we're going to hit challenges. Is there any type of mantra or saying that you tell yourself or you share with your team that kind of helps you push through those times?

Jeff Chandler
Yes, there's a couple of things. We don't have a particular mantra, but there's a couple of things we keep in mind. One is the who not how. So focusing on who can help me get this done rather than how I'm going to do it, necessarily because technology is such a broad category and there's so many things that you can learn and do and we don't expect everybody to know all of it. So if you're stuck, ask for help. Who can help me get this done? And then the other part of that is done is better than perfect. It's the other thing we say. It's too often. I'm a perfectionist. I want to get things done and sometimes I want to just keep tweaking it and tweaking it, whether it's the next marketing thing we're going to send out or whatever it is, and sometimes just get it out there and get the feedback and just continue to refine it and improve it as you go.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, I am a recovering perfectionist as well. And there's no perfect plan. The plan we start with is not the plan that's going to get us to our eventual destination. And so once you've got enough, we learn by taking action and we see what works, what doesn't and make course corrections along the way. So, fantastic piece of advice. 

How To Grow a Business Without Adding Employees

Tim Fitzpatrick

One of the things you touch who not how I think kind of leads in to the next thing I want to ask you about, which is you've managed to grow your business without adding a lot of employees. Which employees can be a great thing, they can be a difficult thing. Right? I don't think there's any necessarily right or wrong answer here of do you want to use employees or not? You made the choice. I don't want to have a ton of employees at this point. How have you grown without adding that staff?

Jeff Chandler
It's finding the right strategic partnerships. So like I said, it's not necessarily about who I can hire because technology is tough, it's hard finding people and it's such a broad category again. So if I can find the right strategic partners who are specialists in certain kinds of things, then I can continue to grow the business without hiring a huge staff. So, for example, I'm partnering with a company in Dallas to provide help desk services. And so not only do they provide the help desk for me, but they provide advice. We have peer groups within that team. So I partner with around 200 companies around the country. So if I have clients who have offices in multiple cities, I'm able to leverage those partnerships I have with those other It companies to provide services nationwide to our clients. We also get on a call once a week and just kind of talk about how business is going, what those struggles are you having. So having those mentor relationships as part of that is pretty awesome. Getting that advice from people who've been there, maybe who've got a bigger business than me, who've been doing it a lot longer, just getting that feedback is great.

Tim Fitzpatrick
How did you initially find this company? And it's okay? I mean, if you want to mention them, I don't have an issue with it.

Jeff Chandler
Yeah, it's a group called The 20.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Okay. The 20.

Jeff Chandler
Yeah. So part of that group, I was looking for outsourced help and ran across them and started doing some investigating and just loved their model, love their business model and wanted to be a part of it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So I'm assuming the help desk services that they're providing, one, they have scale, right? Because they're doing this for a lot of other people, if I remember correctly when we initially spoke. Are they also establishing vendor relationships that you can take advantage of as well?

Jeff Chandler
Right, absolutely. So rather than me negotiating with a lot of vendors on agreements, they're able to leverage all of these companies together and negotiate agreements for us so we're able to get better deals, better contract terms because of that leverage we have with this many endpoints of clients.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Because a lot of manufacturers in the IT space sell on a per se basis, do they not?

Jeff Chandler
Right. Exactly.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So, yeah, gosh, there's so much value in this. I want to make sure we don't miss anything here. You're getting economies of scale that you would not have by yourself, which is giving you more greater buying power. They are providing services for you that, if you tried to do that in house, would be incredibly expensive. So you're getting a much better return based on where you are right now. The other thing that you mentioned that I think a lot of people overlook is just this camaraderie mastermind element of this. The first business that I was involved in was a wholesale distribution company, and we ended up partnering with other distributors across the country. And the information that we shared with each other was absolutely invaluable. You touched on this. Some of the people that you're talking to are ahead of you. Some are behind, some are at the same place. But you can all learn from each other. And honestly, if that's the only thing you were paying for, my guess is it would be well worth the money.

Jeff Chandler
Yeah, absolutely. It's awesome because the struggles we have, things we run into, maybe a sales situation or maybe even a problem with a computer or a service we have, being able to pitch things off of them and say, how did you solve this particular problem? Or how did you deal with the situation? Getting that feedback from that group is pretty amazing.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Why reinvent the wheel when somebody's already got it figured out, right?

Jeff Chandler
Right. Absolutely.

Overcoming the Roadblock of Marketing as an Introvert

Tim Fitzpatrick
So one of the things we talked about in our pre interview, you lean towards being an introvert. I do as well, but a lot of marketing requires us to put ourselves out there. How have you dealt with this? How have you kind of pushed through that? Because I think this is a common roadblock people have.

Jeff Chandler
And my wife says I'm a four step trovert. It's just because of what I do. You have to get out there. You have to be able to talk about your business. And honestly, when I first started doing it, I was nervous going into leads group meetings and doing my introduction or doing my ten minute presentation, those kinds of things really pushed me out of my comfort zone. But it's just a matter of just pushing yourself and doing it. That really is making it work.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Did you find that the more you pushed yourself, the easier it became?

Jeff Chandler
Yes, absolutely. I still have to kind of get that quiet time to recharge, but definitely we'll go out there and I feel a lot more comfortable doing that now.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, I think that's one of the things that I have always told people. At this point, I'm over 200 podcast episodes in. I shoot all this stuff with video because I love video content. And look, we all have fears, but when we can push through those fears and just start doing taking action, as you mentioned before, our comfort zone expands. The other thing that I've also found really helpful for me is just getting to a place where you just don't care as much about what other people think. Everybody's got their own opinion. Who cares if I try to please everybody? I'm not going to please anybody. If we can all get to a place where we just go out there and do our thing and it's going to resonate with some people and others it's not, and that's okay. But I think that is a huge monkey on a lot of people's back. So kudos to you for pushing through it.

Jeff Chandler
Thank you.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Like I said marketing, you got to put yourself out there in some way, shape or form. 

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Leveraging PR To Boost Your Marketing Efforts

Tim Fitzpatrick

So speaking about marketing, one of the marketing tools that you have taken advantage of is PR or public relations. I want to dig into this a little bit because, look, I'll be honest with you, as a marketing consultant and a fractional chief marketing officer, PR is not one of the first places I go with a lot or recommend for a lot of our clients. So I'm curious to dig into this with you. Tell me about how did you settle on PR as a bit of a focus with your marketing efforts and how have you gone about it?

Jeff Chandler
Yeah, so for me, starting a new business, it was partially to help build authority with the business and my brand. So if you're invited to the evening news to talk about a cybersecurity topic, it's going to just automatically build authority for you and your business. Actually, I talked to a lady who was a PR consultant who's in the Chamber of Commerce, so joining the Chamber, lots of great connections there. She's an elites group I'm in. We started talking about it and it's kind of funny because when we first started, I said, now I'm not sure I'm real comfortable about being on TV. Let's start with maybe you can write some articles or do some podcast. And she said, sure, we did some media training. And then two days later she calls and says, hey, by the way, the TV station is doing a segment on protecting yourself on Cyber Monday. You want to go on? And it was a live ten minute TV spot. And yeah, I was pretty nervous that day, but just kind of went in focused on just talking to the lady I was talking to. I think I studied for two or 3 hours the night before just because I was so nervous about it. But once you get in, just kind of force yourself to do it, focus on it. That worked out really well. And then from there it's a matter of just keeping up with the news. So in your particular industry, what's a hot topic? What's something that's going on nationally, internationally, in the community, and then letting the news people know why your local community should care about it. Staple the war in Russia, why is that an issue in cybersecurity in Louisville, Kentucky? So then pulling out those things that people might need to be thinking about for their business and then talking to the media about those particular bullet points, those hot topics, and then getting their attention that way.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Has a lot of your PR spots been locally based?

Jeff Chandler
Right. Yeah, I've done a few national type publications, but most everything's local.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Are a lot of your clients locally based as well?

Jeff Chandler
Right. Most of them are local. I've got a few outside of Louisville, but most of them are within an hour or two from Louisville.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Got it. So I know that PR can get extremely expensive depending on who you work with, it sounds like, have a lot of the spots that you've secured been done through the PR consultant that you've been working with, right?

Jeff Chandler
Yes, that's why I've been doing it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
How does she charge for this stuff? Does she charge on a per spot basis or how does that work?

Jeff Chandler
It's like a retainer. So we agreed on a set amount of hours per month that we think is appropriate and then I pay her based on that.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Got it. So you pay her retainer, she works those hours to try and secure you spots?

Jeff Chandler
Right. It might be following help a reporter out. It could be. So if something comes up that might be a good topic for me to talk about, she'll send those to me. I think I've only had one of those actually come through where they actually did the interview, but just keeping an eye on that. So that kind of gives you some hot topics that you might be able to talk about as well. And then just leveraging those relationships. Just constantly staying in front of the media people when they're looking for someone to comment on something, they're going to look through their email real quick to see, do I have somebody in my email who could potentially help me with this? They're in a hurry. They got a lot to do. They've got to maybe make a story for the evening newscast. So you got to be ready to go. Yeah. So they might call me at ten or eleven and say, hey, I'm doing a story tonight on this particular cybersecurity incident. Are you available in a couple of hours to talk about it?

Tim Fitzpatrick
And you got to move.

Jeff Chandler
And so it's doing a little homework real quick so you make sure you understand what they want to talk about and then getting ready and rescheduling is necessary because if they don't interview you, they're going to move on to the next person.

Tim Fitzpatrick
How many PR spots are you doing a month? Or is it more of a quarterly thing? What does that look like?

Jeff Chandler
So it's averaging out like about one TV spot a month. And then some other news media, like an article or something. So local business paper, even a newspaper that's sort of more regional, those kinds of things. So at least one or two things a month.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. A couple of questions that are coming to mind that I think are important for people to understand. What are some of the things that you're doing to leverage the PR once you get it?

Jeff Chandler
Yeah. So for me, it's a matter of just staying in front of mind for my clients and prospects. So in some cases, it might be a prospect I've been working on who will say, oh, I saw you on the local news last night. I know we've got this thing going on, let's set up a lunch and let's talk about it. So it's maybe reactivating some of those prospects or even somebody who you're trying to get your foot in the door, you can bring that up and say, we were on the news talking about this topic. We think we can help your business with this particular issue and leveraging it that way.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, I think there's a lot of ways you can potentially leverage this. And there's one with a lot of these PR spots, you are getting links back to your company. The TV spots, some of them, it kind of depends. The print spots, a lot of them. My guess is you are getting links from their site back to yours, which from an SEO standpoint, those are really high quality backlinks, which is really good for you. But the other thing too, we see this all the time. People on their website hey. Have been featured on. Right. And they're using those logos to leverage that. Right?

Jeff Chandler
Right. I do that. Yeah.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So that's a great way to leverage those spots. The other thing, too, is taking those spots and promoting them through your social channels is another easy way to get the word out there. Because what a lot of us don't realize is when you show that you've been featured on the news and people are familiar with that, the credibility of that other company starts to translate over to you. Right. It's like, Jeff was featured on whatever, Louisville KDRTV. Right?

Jeff Chandler
Correct.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Oh, my gosh, I know them. Shoot, I don't know Jeff, but he must be legit to be featured on the news. Right. Those are some of the things that are going through people's minds, and that absolutely helps you build credibility and authority. I think it's to leverage it as much as possible. You want to promote those spots throughout the rest of your marketing channels to really maximize the exposure as much as possible.

Jeff Chandler
Right. And even on the TV spots, a lot of times they'll put a web story as well to go along with it, which could include the video, plus a lot more of the interview that you may have done with them. Because a lot of times what will happen is we'll do an interview that might last 30, 45 minutes, and they'll pull out maybe 30 seconds of sound bites.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, got it.

Jeff Chandler
So you'll get a lot more of the topic. And even without the back link to your site, just mentioning your business name in that article still helps build your authority. And Google, we'll see that as well, and build your SEO.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. So you're just slowly putting these seeds out there that are really helping your business over the long term.

Jeff Chandler
Right.

Is It Possible to Measure the ROI of PR?

Tim Fitzpatrick
Here's my next question about PR. How are you tracking the ROI on it or are you?

Jeff Chandler
Unfortunately, I didn't do a better job than that. I have not been doing much of that. I do ask people where they saw me and how they found out about that business. I don't do a great job right now tracking it, but I need to do better at that.

Tim Fitzpatrick
PR is one of those things where it is a bit more complicated to track. Right. My first recommendation is exactly what you just said, asking people where they heard about you. Now, they may not always remember, but that's the simplest and easiest thing you can do. There are certainly some things where you could, depending on how in depth you want to get with tracking the links that you provide them that they use in the post, could be tracking links so that you can track how much traffic is coming back to your website from those. If you're listing phone numbers, you could use call tracking there. Right. You could use a specific number for just PR in general. Or you could use specific number for each PR spot. That would be a lot, I think. I think just tracking overall, how much business is coming from your PR is the easiest place to start, but call tracking and link tracking is another way to do it. My guess is in a lot of the PR spots, you don't necessarily have an opportunity to call people out and send them to a specific place.

Jeff Chandler
Right. Most of the time you're not there to promote your business. If we're talking about protecting yourself on Cyber Monday, shopping online, you're not necessarily going to get people referred to you, but then when you come back and say, you can take that video, promote it on your social media. Hey, I was on local news talking about this topic. It helps you build authority maybe on LinkedIn and other places, and then just people start to remember when you talk about it. Or you can just bring it up in your proposals, those sorts of things.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Is most of your marketing effort in PR at this point or are you actively doing using any other marketing channels?

Jeff Chandler
We use a lot of different methods. So we're part of Robin Robbins Technology Marketing and she talks about oil wells, having lots of oil wells. So we do direct mail, we work on SEO, we do Google AdWords. So we do a lot of different things because if one thing is not working, then you have something else that's going to be delivering results for you.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So you're really taking advantage of an omnichannel marketing approach, which

Jeff Chandler
I want to be everywhere.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Well, a lot of people are heavily reliant on a single lead gen source, which is a the way I compare it is it's like riding a unicycle. If the tire goes flat, you're host. Right?

Jeff Chandler
Right.

Tim Fitzpatrick
But if you've got three, four, or five different channels, you're in a four wheeler or a car. If the tire goes flat, you can still keep going. It may slow you down a little bit, but you can still get to where you want to go. So taking advantage of an omnichannel approach is fantastic. The other thing that I think is important and a lot of us overlook is most of the marketing we do is not going to work. That's just the reality of it. Marketing is all about testing and testing quickly so you can figure out what's working, what's not and make those course corrections. And when you're using multiple channels, it definitely gives you a huge opportunity to test in a lot of areas. I love the fact that you're using direct mail. A lot of people do not do that. But since you're focused in a very set geographic area, direct mail can be a great opportunity.

Jeff Chandler
Yeah. We do postcards, newsletters, more letters, like a call to action, and then we follow this up with phone calls as well.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, that's awesome. What are your favorite lead gen channels?

Jeff Chandler
I'm not sure I have a favorite. I think that the ones making the phone calls out is the one that really works. So following up everything, so you've got something you've provided to them, now you have an excuse to call as well. Colin, did you receive the postcard we sent you about this? Did you receive the letter we sent you about this? Now you have an excuse to possibly get through the gatekeeper rather than just a cold call where you're saying, hey, I'm calling about IT support, what can we do to help you?

Tim Fitzpatrick
This is awesome. I love this. It's not just a single touch or even multiple touches through one channel. You're layering these channels on top of each other to get better results.

Jeff Chandler
And people, when they hear you, then they're going to go out and investigate. So your social media has to be up to date. Are you posting on your Facebook business page, on your LinkedIn page? They're going to do some background checks on you to see do you have reviews, those sorts of things. So all those things work together to help build the business.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Again, Jeff, you just keep serving me these softballs here today. Even if your business is 100% referral, people aren't just picking up the phone and calling when Jeff says, hey, you need to talk to Tim. They're going online, they're checking our businesses out, they're looking at our website. They like what they see. They may go to social media, they may look at some reviews. So it's having a robust online presence I think is really important. Otherwise you're losing business. People are dropping out of the journey and you don't even know it.

Jeff Chandler
Right.

In Conclusion

Tim Fitzpatrick
So I love it, man. I have one more question for you and then we can start to wrap things up here. What's had the biggest impact on the growth of your company?

Jeff Chandler
I think it's going back to what I said originally. It's those peer groups and mentorships with other IT owners, and these are IT owners in different markets, so we don't compete against each other. So just finding that affinity group, even through maybe it's a LinkedIn group or something, but finding an affinity group of people in a similar industry and be able to bounce ideas off of them for growth, getting a coach, those sorts of things help tremendously.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I love it. I've got one more question for you, I ask everybody this question, knowing what you know now, is there anything you would do differently?

Jeff Chandler
Yes. So like I said, this is the third business I've started. One of the things I started with this one was starting with it's not a job, this is a business I'm building. So I'm a big believer in a lot of the Emith type methods. So building systems where it's not just me setting up in the morning. And these are the jobs I got to do today. How do I build this as a system so that if I bring someone on to do the job, they know exactly how to do it, where it's not relying on me, and then I've got a sellable asset when I'm done.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Did you not work on that type of stuff early enough? Do you feel like?

Jeff Chandler
In the first business I had, I think it was a lot dependent on me, and so I ended up with ten employees at one point, and it just seemed like it was all draining on me because I was a technician with a job rather than a business owner. So then I went to work for a startup insurance company we built that, sold it to a Fortune 100 company about five years ago. Learned a ton there. Had some great mentor relationships that's part of that business, and then decided to move on and do my own thing again. So I'm really loving it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Jeff, there's been a great interview. I really appreciate you taking the time. Where can people learn more about you?

Jeff Chandler
Yes. So they can find me on LinkedIn, and then you've got my sleek Bbo page on there. I've got some great resources. It's got all my social media links. It's got my LinkedIn link, my email, a couple of offers. So if you want to get signed up for my newsletter, you can get that or a resource on some just standard protections and best practices for protecting your network. Got some great tools there.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I love it. So we'll make sure that is in the show notes, but for those that are listening, it's Sleek, S-L-E-E-K, and then Bio.com forward slash ZJak. That's Z JAK tech T-E-C-H. So head on over there if you'd like to connect with Jeff. I have enjoyed connecting with you a few times now. Thank you so much for that, and I appreciate you taking the time. For those that are watching, listening, I appreciate you. I hope you got a ton of value from this conversation that Jeff and I have had. Gosh. If you want to accelerate revenue growth, got to remove those roadblocks. If you want to find out which roadblocks are slowing down your growth, head on over to RevenueRoadblockScorecard.com In less than five minutes, you'll be able to discover and assess those roadblocks. You can always connect with us as well over at rialtomarketing.com too. So thank you so much. Until next time. Take care.


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About the author, Tim Fitzpatrick

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