By Carl Carter, APR, AMM
Your company’s growing, changing, and capturing new markets, and you’re excited about it. You’ve just struck a new deal, hired a new wunderkind, installed a snazzy new computer system or even changed your name. And the suggestion may come up, “Let’s tell the world. Maybe do a press release, or buy some advertising.”
It may be a good idea, but it can also backfire if you don’t think it through and handle it properly. To help you do that, here are some questions to ask before you commit to a big announcement.
Does it improve your ability to serve customers? You’d think any major change that will improve service to customers is good news, and that’s often the case. But avoid anything that would point to present or past weaknesses in your service. If you’ve been getting complaints about your online bidding platform, for example, it may be a bad idea to make a big splash about your implementation of a new system. (Besides, the new system may not work out as advertised, which can leave you with egg on your face.)
Does it compromise your ability to compete? When you embark on a new marketing strategy, secure new funding or decide to make a major push into a new market, it’s natural to want to tell the world how this step will make your company bigger and badder than ever. First, weigh the benefits against the downside of alerting competitors to your impending marketing changes. Your customers may well worry that you’ll neglect them or sacrifice service to attract new growth. And your competitors may go to work on their own plans to counter yours. Sometimes it’s best to keep your cards close to your chest.
Does it raise questions you’d rather not answer? Most of us, at one time or another, have to take action to solve a problem. Maybe you had to cut loose an employer who was performing poorly or even stealing from you. Maybe your longtime marketing guru just bolted to start his own competing company. Why call attention to that by drawing attention to a new hire? Of course, there are a lot of changes that are nobody’s business. A common one I’ve seen in the auction industry is a change in ownership, where a new investor comes in or a partner buys out another. Nearly all auction companies are privately held, so there are no reporting requirements. What you decide to reveal is pretty much up to you.
Does it matter outside the company? Some companies (especially in the real estate business, for some reason) love to publicize their top producers — splashing their pictures on company ads or even issuing press releases. I discourage this for internal recognitions and competitions for a number of reasons. Folks are smarter than you give them credit for, and they know that your Top Performer is being stacked only against his or her co-workers inside your company. Your star might be the pick of a sorry litter, and your competitor up the street may have two or three who are better. Also consider the impact on the rest of your employees, who may feel that your marketing steers more business to the winner at their expense.
How does it affect your partnering organizations and other stakeholders? Let’s say you just had lunch with a colleague from another state where you’d like to gain a foothold. She, in turn, might have opportunities in your state, where she lacks the necessary licenses. You hammer out the fee sharing details and one of you says, “Hey, let’s do a press release to let people know about it.” So you do so, and soon you’re getting a tense phone call from another auctioneer who also partners with you on occasion. “What’s with this? Are you throwing me overboard?” he asks. Next thing you know, you’re patching things up with longtime associates because you tried to make too much of a very small deal with a new one.
By all means, brag when it’s called for. Just think it through before you misstep.
This article was originally published in the September 2016 Auctioneer Magazine. Used here by permission of the National Auctioneers Association.