I have lost count over the years of companies coming to see JWA and starting the meeting with the statement that ‘they have tried marketing/PR, but it doesn’t work’. Usually these are SMEs where the person overseeing the marketing is the owner/managing director, and they are very nervous of spending the money without being ‘hands-on’ to what it is being spent on.
One of the problems when persuading companies that it makes sense to work with an agency, is that, to the outside world, there are no real rules involved. So, whilst these same people would probably listen to, and follow the advice of, their lawyer/accountant/architect/similar if they were coming to them for advice, since ignoring that advice could land them in all sorts of trouble, when it comes to marketing and PR… well, they are all experts, even if their own training is in accountancy, law, architecture, etc! The result being, of course, that they are loathe to want to listen to or spend money on someone that IS an expert in the field, and they would prefer to believe that it is the marketing itself, rather than their OWN particular marketing, that doesn’t work.
If you are thinking to embark on a marketing/PR campaign, it really IS worth at least talking to an agency before you start – all agencies will meet for an initial consultation without charging you a bean. And you might be surprised about the amount that they will charge you to go forward, compared to the amount that they will save you. And then consider the following:
• Advertising does work. But you need to be sure of who you are targeting, whether you are using the right advertising medium and whether the advert itself is getting the right message across. Don’t just embark on some advertising because someone offers you a great deal, or the editor is a friend, or because you, yourself, like to read that particular magazine or newspaper!! It is a bit more complicated than that!
• Not just anyone can write a press release or article, and, no, it is not just a question of giving a friendly journalist a call and asking him/her to place a press release on the front page of the paper! There is a real skill in writing a press release that generates attention from a journalist (who receives hundreds of press releases a day!) and just because you find a topic interesting, it doesn’t mean that a journalist does. If you want to get out in the media, an agency will advise you on the topics that specific media are interested in at any given time, will prepare your press release in a way that will get attention and will write your article so that it is interesting to read. And then, if they work really hard, you might get some coverage. Not because the journalist is a friend of the agency. But because they have given the journalist something that he can use.
• Direct marketing… well, that’s easy and cheap, isn’t it! But how many times do you, yourselves, open a letter, or read a newsletter, look at the first couple of lines and put it in the bin or delete it? Do you really want to spend money on printing, envelopes, postage and time for 99% of the recipients to bin what you have sent them? Don’t just think that because you can write, you can carry out a direct mailing campaign… it is more complicated than that!
Does any of the above sound familiar... I haven't even started! What about what happens when the marketing actually does work... and then you fall at the first hurdle when the customer walks through the door... More on that in Part 2!