This post was contributed to VENTUREAPP by Marlo Fogelman, principal of marlo marketing, a one-stop-shop agency that specializes in PR, branding and design, digital marketing and advertising, with offices in Boston and New York.
If you build it, will they come?
As convenient as it would be if developing and launching a product were all one needed to do in order to generate sales, the fact is that strategic promotion is a key part of what makes companies and their brands successful. Whether you’re a startup looking to get on the map, a venture preparing for a new product launch or an established company looking to generate buzz before an IPO, PR is a key component of the marketing mix that should not be overlooked. Even if you’ve got the best product, sales team and management in the world, you still need a PR campaign to bolster brand awareness, foster goodwill and emphasize credibility.
Once you’ve partnered with a marketing agency that fits your needs, there are four key questions to discuss to make your new campaign a success:
Who are you?
A major goal of any PR & marketing campaign is to create brand awareness and attract new clientele.
To do this successfully, you’ll need to work with your PR firm to identify both who you are and what makes you, your company, or your offering unique. Anything and everything – from your brand’s history and product benefits to your CEO’s offbeat workout routine – can be a powerful tool in telling your brand story, so don’t hold back!
Once your major differentiators have been established, your PR firm can create the tools they need to compose an effective media kit that serves as a solid foundation for strategically communicating about your brand. Your media kit – which could include web copy, news releases, bios and fact sheets – can and should be used to educate both media and staff on how to speak about the company. This way, anyone speaking about your company – whether it’s to the media or consumers – can effectively stay on message. This is important because building a brand requires definition, consistency and repetition.
Who is your audience?
PR is a great avenue to engage with and establish goodwill among your current consumers. And since retaining business is always more cost effective than winning over new consumers, keeping current customers happy is key. Thankfully, there are many ways of doing this – a social media presence, blog, monthly newsletter or loyalty programs are all options you and your PR firm can evaluate and execute.
Before deciding which way to engage customers, you must evaluate who your current market is and which market segments you’d like to grow. This will help you be more strategic about how to communicate and how to prioritize and allocate precious marketing dollars. Looking to target millennials? Consider a social media-heavy approach. Partnering with social influencers to promote and endorse your brand is a powerful and cost-effective way to get your brand in front of a lot of eyes.
After an older audience? You may want to focus on more traditional media like print, television and celebrity endorsements. As with social influencers, celebrities can also be powerful advocates for your brand. Understanding your business’s demographic will help you optimize a celebrity engagement. For example, if your market is men between 45 and 60, aligning a well-known baseball player with your brand will resonate more than an endorsement from the newest pop star on the scene. But celebrities are expensive…so, enlisting people who are “influencers” within your industry and market, whether they’re local business owners, book authors, socialites, etc., can be a more cost effective way to generate buzz and influence.
By understanding your audience and the media they consume, your PR firm will be able to work to keep your brand top of mind in the media landscape that will prove most impactful to you.
Who is your competition?
Who are your current competitors? Who would you expect to compete with in the future? By identifying your current and future competition, your PR firm can work to evaluate the current conversations in your industry and make sure that your brand is seen as an on-trend key player and thought leader. There are many opportunities to differentiate your brand, from the classic press release to trade show appearances and CEO-penned whitepapers and op-eds. Monitoring and evaluating what your current competitors have done can be a good way to choose the best channels for your business, and taking note of the conversations your aspirational competitors are included in can illustrate what needs to be done to get to the next level.
What does success look like to you?
What are your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)? What is your ideal version of ROI?
While we used to live in a world where visions of front page, above-the-fold coverage danced in every PR practitioner and client’s head, today’s varied media landscape means there is no one-size-fits all victory. Varied outlets and more diverse platforms make PR a more powerful tool than ever, but to be truly effective, both clients and firms need to identify what success looks like to them.
So ask yourself: Do you want to grow an engaged social following that directly drives business? Are you hoping to become so engrained in popular conversation in your particular vertical that your product becomes the go-to example when people talk about it? Or are you an established brand that enjoys plenty of local press but is looking to scale and enter the national conversation? All of these are possible with a tailored approach, and by identifying your version of success, your PR firm can roll out new campaigns in a way that directly aligns and supports your KPIs.