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It all comes down to dollars. And the almighty dollar seems even more almighty if you don't have it.

To get it, you have to increase your sales and profits. Knowing that is easy. Knowing how to achieve that result is not so easy.

Here's an example of how to market and promote one's business to the real estate community. Let's say you're an interior design firm, and you have been knocking on doors trying to drum up business. You get a few prospects, but an even smaller number of them turn out to be clients. You make deals with leasing agents and building managers, but so does everyone else, and the competition is fierce. Raising the ante of incentives can make you feel as if you need an ever-faster revolving line-of credit. Taking from Peter to pay Paul just makes you a conduit for the passage of money, not the final recipient of it.

You need to do something new, something different, something that will set you above your competition. Here is what I would do: first, I would write a case history for a real estate publication in which I would explain how an interior design company can make a building more attractive by redecorating its public areas; I would use specific examples about how such techniques have been used in a variety of buildings to attract new tenants and reduce the vacancy rate. Once the article appears, I would make reprints of it and mail it, with a covering letter, to building owners and operators. After ten business days, I would call each of the recipients. I would try to set up as many appointments as possible for my client. Once, I bad scheduled appointments, I would script a presentation; and in the case of an interior design company, I would include visuals. What is the result of such a procedure?

Voila! New business.
There are, of course, other sources of business for an interior design company, and it is essential to identify as many marketing targets as possible. Another target, for example, might be showroom tenants. After all, my client has some expertise in designing showrooms for garment tenants. I would build on that expertise and write an article about how my client helped several showroom tenants improve their images and so increase business. The article would have specific remarks from the tenants to justify my client's thesis. Again, once the article appeared, I would mail reprints of it to all local garment tenants who have showrooms and are in the same business as those tenants mentioned in the article. I would follow the same steps used in the earlier example.

This technique works for a wide variety of companies; but, before you begin, you must identify your market. If you do not, you may be aiming at the wrong target.

If, let's say, you own an environmental assessment company, you will want to promote yourself not only to building owners who will need your services if they are to refinance their buildings; but also to mortgage bankers who provide money not only for refinancing, but for initial purchases as well. Faced with a herd of instant environmental experts, many mortgage bankers cannot tell a sensible and realistic assessment from one that had the collaboration of a Willy Sutton who knows where the money is and only wants to get his hands on it.

Such people make mortgage bankers very nervous. And for good reason. To help them out of their quandary, I would write an article for my client that explains how one can evaluate an environmental assessment. I would eliminate all technical jargon, tell them what to look for, and what questions they should ask. The article would be placed in an appropriate banking publication, reprints would be made, and it would be mailed, with a covering letter, to a list of mortgage bankers. Again, there would be follow-up phone calls, appoints for my client, and a presentation script for those meetings. I would also have prepared brochures, so that my client can leave promotional materials with prospective customer/clients.

While many brokers and others are certainly intent on making deals, they do very little to market and promote themselves. Indeed, the majority of them do nothing but make cold calls and knock on an endless series of doors. It is the same technique employed by roulette players: it takes many turns of the wheel to hit a jackpot. Whether one uses a public relations professional, or takes advantage of one's own creativity, one should develop a marketing public relations program that will be effective in producing results. Not to do so means that one will be an "also ran." And if you're not a triple-crown contender, you will only run with the pack, not ahead of it.

Jeffrey Sussman is president of Jeffrey Sussman, Inc. a marketing public relations firm in New York City. He is the author of the best-selling book, Everybody Wins! and teaches marketing at The New School University.