Make yourself into a media pundit

In the modern environment public relations and marketing are vital so if you can\'t beat \'em, join \'em - become a media pundit and stand out from the crowd, says Sally Laker

There is an old business maxim that states that if you are standing still you are moving backwards. This holds particularly true for anyone working in the fast moving world of financial services.

And this is especially so at a time when the public is becoming more educated and discerning about financial products and the firms that provide them. Much of the information people base their choices on comes from the mass media. The media informs consumers about successful financial firms and comes down hard on those it believes have misled the public, are incompetent or whose products are not up to scratch.

So success often comes down to the perceptions of influential others, be they members of the media, peers, pressure groups or the public.

But this can be managed. You and your firm can stand out from the crowd by employing marketing techniques that put your business in front of prospective customers. These ideas are not rocket science – you have probably already considered doing some of them yourself.

One is to try and position yourself as a local expert on a particular aspect of the mortgage market, such as buy-to-let or sub-prime, through a column in the local or trade press. This is easier than it sounds.

Although there may already be such a contributor, editors are often looking for fresh talent as even the most engaging commentators can become stale. Try specialising and offering comment or opinion on a certain sector. Come up with a few ideas for articles and put them to the journalist in charge of the business or personal finance section by phone or email.

By the same token you can target the local radio station with a similar proposition. Of course, if you sound like Daffy Duck after a night on the town this might not be the best route for you to explore.

Even if you don’t want a regular slot in the press or on radio, it will pay dividends from time to time to issue press releases from your organisation on the hot topic of the day. These could be in response to events such as a rise in the base rate, a change in legislation or reaction to what a competitor or product provider has done.

Of course, you could try tackling your customer base directly. This can be achieved at a small cost by employing existing technology to build a database for an email or direct marketing campaign.

Timing is critical to the success of any growth strategy. It is vital that you take a close look at the position of your company to assess whether or not it can cope with expansion or increased enquiries.

Is your firm operating at full capacity? If you don’t know, find out. This means examining the resources and systems you have in place to carry out your existing business while targeting expansion elsewhere. There are lots of ways companies can move forward but any business initiative you introduce must not come at the expense of your firm’s performance.