Local Marketing Guru Shares Some Secrets

Amy Nugent founded Renown Marketing Communications in 2000, after working several years for public relations agencies in the Twin Cities. Her marketing agency helps sales and marketing executives of mid-sized organizations:

  • Strategically define their brands, target audiences and key messages
  • Identify and implement the most effective marketing tactics to deliver those messages to target audiences

Because it generally takes 6-9 impressions before people become aware of a company’s messages, Amy’s work integrates tactics such as: case studies, sales collateral, email and digital marketing, trade show exhibits, media relations/publicity, speaking engagements, social media and event marketing. In her career, she’s helped market Southdale Center, the Metrodome, Hamline University, Mr. Coffee products, and Post-It Notes. Current clients include Saint Thomas Academy, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, Children’s Home Society of Minnesota, GHR Foundation, CKC Good Food and New Market Bank.

Amy, how do you stay up-to-date with the ever-changing ways to market a business?

Much like accounting techniques apply the same across industries, marketing basics don’t change from one industry or company to another. The vehicles we use to deliver our messages and reach our customers, employees, shareholders, distributors, etc., may change but we always start at the same place – defining:

  1. A specific audience by demographic, psychographic, socioeconomic information;
  2. Three to four key messages that will resonate with that audience; and
  3. Marketing tactics/vehicles that will effectively deliver the key messages to the target audience.

I stay up on industry advances through professional development events, reading (I find Fast Company to be really helpful) and comparing notes with other marketing communications professionals.

What is a common marketing mistake business owners make?

Choosing marketing methods that may not be the best for creating awareness with prospective customers. Some mistakenly think because they listen to a certain radio station, regularly use an app or read a blog daily that those would be great ways to deliver their marketing messages. I may listen to KTIS but there are more effective and targeted ways to reach my prospective clients who are owners and executives of mid-sized organizations. That’s why it’s so important to clearly and specifically identify your audience prior to determining the outreach tactics they are likely to consume. (Hint: “everyone” is not a clear and specific audience. The more narrowly you define your audience, the more successful your marketing tends to be.)

Also, Facebook is popular and makes it easy to disseminate a message, however, it’s not always where people would choose to engage with your business. For example, would you choose to engage with a lawn fertilizing business on Facebook? That company would have to work hard to create compelling content to get me to follow its page and engage with it consistently so that Facebook includes the page content in my news feed. Because of the platform’s ever-changing algorithms and people’s ability to look past ads and sponsored posts in their news feeds, it’s harder and harder to create meaningful impressions through Facebook.

You also help businesses with crisis communication. How should business owners respond when handling negative situations and press?

  1. Call a crisis communications professional.
  2. Don’t be defensive. Crisis situations are emotionally charged. Your success at defusing the situation will be predicated on your ability to minimize your emotions and empathize with the public’s.
  3. Don’t lie. Lie will be revealed in time, which will erode your credibility.
  4. Be as transparent with information as your lawyers will let you without inflaming the situation. Withholding information that may emerge through public records or substantiation by multiple parties will prolong the situation. Sometimes it’s best to “rip the band-aid off” as fast as possible – to have one or two bad days of responding to tough questions rather than extending the situation for a month or two or six through slowly leaked information.
  5. Don’t bring unnecessary attention to the situation through your communications. If your crisis involves only one segment of your audience and has little impact on others, communicate directly with those who could be impacted. This can be tricky because you need to anticipate the circuitous path of communications could take in the next day or two or 10.

Let’s dig a little deeper. What is one thing people may not know about you or your business?

  1. Writing is the foundation of everything I do and is a skill I had to intentionally pursue to be successful in my work – it didn’t come naturally to me. After many years, I have become a stickler for grammar and spelling, and enjoy searching for precise words to convey an idea. I may not always get them right and almost always notice others’ mistakes.

I have written for magazines including Twin Cities Business and the Business Journal, and a few that no longer exist. Freelance writing helped me both hone my writing skills and better understand what the media seek when doing a story on one of my clients.