In the real estate business it has long been said, “the three most important factors when selling a property are location, location, and location.”
For marketers, the three most important factors in selling products and services are: repetition, repetition, and repetition. Why? Because repetition puts your products in front of prospective customers when their need arises and it reinforces what you have to offer.
In industrial and technical marketing we have no control over when a customer’s need might arise. It might arise because their vendor botched an order, increased prices, or is going out of business. Perhaps the company is expanding and now needs what you offer, but it didn’t before. So, the real marketing challenge is: “to be in front of that prospective customer” when such an opportunity arises and to do it in the most cost-effective way! You could telephone them daily; that’s crazy. You could e-mail daily; almost as crazy, you can advertise repeatedly but that’s very expensive. Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill.
The closest thing to a magic pill is a well-executed product publicity campaign. First, you have to really know what publicity is. It isn’t “free advertising,” as is often promoted by some in the advertising industry. Publicity is news and information. By itself, it has tremendous value. In fact, the more newsworthy a media outlet, the more it charges for advertising. The value of the “space for sale” is directly correlated to the value of the “news and editorial.” So, the first thing necessary to create a well-executed publicity program is to change your point-of-view.
Rather than looking at publicity as free advertising, see it as making a contribution to the very reason why the media exists: to bring readers news and information. Develop press releases that help editors and web hosts accomplish their task by illustrating how your products and services solve problems. And if they “choose” to publish your contribution; everybody wins!
Why is product publicity so effective? First, if an editor or web host decides to publish news about your company, it is because they consider it newsworthy. By definition, it will carry more credibility than an advertisement. This helps establish and solidify your brand. Reflect on Apple’s introduction of the Mac, Ipod, Iphone, and Ipad for validation of this idea. The widespread exposure and repetition of their product messages in various media outlets not only reinforced the notion of Apple as an innovator, it also generated sales inquiries from potential customers and distributors.
I can hear it now; I’ve heard it before, “I’m not Steve Jobs and my products are not like Apple’s.” Well, they don’t have to be. If there is a need that your product or service fills, there will be media outlets interested in learning about it so they can inform their readers. And you want their readers, your prospective customers, to call your company, visit your website, or to Google your product or company. Widespread product publicity will accomplish these objectives more effectively than any other tool in your marketing toolbox. What’s more, product publicity can also uncover new markets functionally and geographically, drive traffic to your website, facilitate search engine positioning, and help determine the best media outlets for paid advertising programs. And, if done properly, it will do it more cost-effectively than any other element of the marketing mix.