Posted tagged ‘public relations’

Lesson 6: Draw Attention Using Traditional Approaches Too

April 6, 2009

Suzy’s discussion reaffirmed an initial component that may be critical to an overall solution to our challenge. She had stated at the close of the conversation, that public relations might be an integral element for developing the consumer franchise for these housewares company.

One of the marketing people that I have relied on over the years is Steve Clark. Steves the head of Andover Communications, a PR/Marketing firm specializing in product and service promotion, editorial and creative solutions and event planning, specifically for small businesses. That was important because the prices of the products in this industry necessitates a more limited promotional budget.

Building a presence for clients is something Steve is very comfortable doing. He views his role this way – the goal is to get the customers to ask the store why it doesn’t have a particular product in stock.

The other morning, I was watching the Today show, To my surprise, Matt, Meredith, Al and what seemed like the entire Today Show staff, were all wrapped in the SnuggieTM blanket. That’s the blanket with sleeves. The Today Show team was marveling at how great, warm and comfortable it was. Watching them discuss the product was absolutely fascinating. (By the way, the entire segment was just over two minutes long!)

Talk about using a “hub” for gaining a market presence…

And all I could think of was, some PR firm had really truly earned their fees. They had leveraged an infomercial which uses direct response advertising to create a market for very simple invention and then got several minutes on nationwide priime time television haveing their product promoted across the country.

And incidentally, the Snuggie is not only sold on the web. It’s also available at Target, Bed Bath and Beyond and Walgreen’s – the very same stores that our housewares companies have their products.

The lesson here is clear.

Being in a technologically driven world does not mean we should discount traditional methods of promotion. It is very possible to create customer demand through the effective use of traditional marketing and push-pull techniques.

Steve shared with me one of his own experiences. About ten years ago, Steve represented a client that created eyewear for those who spend a lot of time in front of the computer. The eyewear was branded and was designed to reduce eye fatigue. Andover was effective in creating patient demand so that prospects felt a need to go to their local optometrist and ask for the product by name.

To further cement its appeal, he arranged for a local television station to interview the company at a trade show where they were demonstrating the product. The presence of TV cameras at a booth added cache and credibility to the company and helped accelerate the results that they achieved.

Consumer attention though requires critical mass and often this solution involves unique packaging, placement and promotion to create two of the elements necessary for a successful buzz — exposure and credibility.

Lesson 4: Think Beyond the Obvious

March 30, 2009

When it comes to finding the right market for a product, one of the most important ways to go about this is our fourth lesson, think beyond the obvious.

When I first undertook this project, one of the challenges that I immediately began to “noodle” on was how to build this housewares community. At first blush, it would seem that it would be difficult to identify a specific community for each of the products in the housewares industry. After all, when a product is sold in this industry, the consumers do not register for support or service. It is very difficult to know who purchased a product — let alone what was thought of it.

Applying our fourth lesson made this a relatively easy task.

My wife, Annie, started the process. When it comes to cooking, I consider Annie a subject matter expert. She has taken courses with some accomplished chefs and the food in our home is the best evidence that she has learned quite a bit about the art and science of baking and cooking. She also uses a fair share of gadgets.

Annie explained that in this industry KOLs and communities were everywhere.

Culinary demonstrations at Williams-Sonoma...The Food NetworkChef CentralRachel Ray’s web siteEpicurious.comGourmet Magazine The Today Show…cool new product presentations…

These are all examples of sites or media or events that cater to people who use houseware products.

Suzy, in our conversation, had mentioned that I should consider all circles of influences. In fact, she pointed out that book clubs, mom’s groups and PTA meetings frequently go off on tangents about life in the home and how to make things easier and better. Another opportunity.

Suzy also reminded me that one of the great ways to access these opportunities to promote houseware products was through the effective use of public relations, which she referred to as free media. I liked this idea because, as you may recall from one of the earlier posts, it had been noted that this industry does not allow for the investment of heavy marketing dollars to create the brand.

While all of this was exciting, there was still one more area that I felt compelled to investigate so I turned on my computer and went to google.com. In the search box, I typed in — “blogs’ and “housewares’ — with quotes around the key words. Naturally, and “obviously” one would expect there to be very few people who write passionately about housewares.

To my surprise Google returned 1,060,000 sites. That’s right, more than a million blogs! This tells us that there are large communities of people who share a fascination about houseware products. Wow! And get this — searching for “blogs and brushes” returned 1,380,000 blogs! (Author’s Note: While there are painter’s brushes and a host of other types of brushes, still many of these blogs related to houseware industry brushes. To further illustrate the point, “blogs” and “brooms”, a category that is more defined, still returned 78,200 blogs)

Suddenly, channeling this interest was very exciting. The ability to create a consumer franchise by leveraging the impact of appropriate on-line advertising, public relations, search engine optimization and web marketing did not look so daunting…

In fact, it was beginning to look so much easier.

How Buyers Buy Professional Services

January 8, 2009

The editors of RainToday.com, an excellent site for those who market and sell professional services, recently released their 2009 benchmark study on how clients buy professional services. In their nine minute podcast, they talked about the top 5 ways buyers find their professional service providers.

The research involved asking 200 buyers of professional services (law, accounting, consulting, technology, training, among a whole range of services). The sizes of the buying firms were small to a billion dollars in revenue. The survey identified 27 different methods by which buyers choose professional services.

Here are the top five:

(1)   Referrals from colleagues (79% of respondents)

(2)   Referrals from other service providers (75%)

(3)   Personal recognition or awareness of the buyer / brand / reputation (73%)

(4)   In person seminars (66%)

(5)   Presentation at a conference

Here’s what the findings mean to me.

(1)   Your own client base is your greatest source of leads. It tells me that I’d better have the kind of support that keeps them happy and I’d better find opportunities to keep talking with them.

(2)   People in the industry talk. Sounds like it would be prudent to look after our professional relationships

(3)   Having a presence is important and being known is very important. This means that speaking engagements, writing articles and sharing and helping others is critical toward developing a prominent brand.

If you’d like some unique ideas about seminars, drop me a note at david_blumenthal@msn.com and we’ll set aside some time to talk about some unusual and really effective seminar development approaches taht will generate immediate opportunities.


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