May 27, 2014

Customer care not marketing’s job

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 11:21 am

This familiar statement falls into the same category as, “I don’t do windows.” But in my case it refers to something else: My job is NOT to help clients with their customer care process.

My job is to use marketing communication to help bring prospects to them in the first place.

Of course, developing “brand advocates,” as I recently heard them referred to in a Forbes article by David Amerland, is one of the most crucial missions of any business. Quicken Loans refers to this in their tagline, Engineered to Amaze, and customer service Guru Darby Checketts deals in something called Customer Amazement.”

These all pretty much refer to the same thing – customer satisfaction – and an important thing it is.

It’s the job of marketing communicators like yours truly to help the salesperson close by building brand preference, or at least to help introduce the prospect to the brand, or incline them to look favorably upon it. Metaphorically, this amounts to helping a client “fill the bag with sugar” (good will). The function of good customer service, on the other hand, is to see to it that the original customer spreads the word to others so more “bags of sugar” (like the tale we learned in school) can be accumulated because the new prospects were referred by the first customer.

Even though we marketers have nothing to do with the customer satisfaction function, if we’re worth our salt . . . er, sugar, we don’t want to see a hole poked into any of those bags of good will due to shoddy after-the-sale treatment. That’s because neither delivering the prospect nor closing the sale means diddly squat if the sugar of good will leaks out nearly as quickly as the bag is filled.

The bottom line 

The client’s success is the marketing communicator’s success. The marketer wants to keep the client a healthy, hearty client. So – even though it’s “not our job,” we do have a stake in a client’s keeping those hard-won customers happy with the way they are treated today, tomorrow and, hopefully, forever. Indeed, all of us involved in the supply chain have a stake in this.





May 19, 2014

Analyze your marketing

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 5:16 pm

1.     Know your position.

Determine the specific niche your business intends to fill.

What will you stand for in the minds of your prospects and customers/clients?

In establishing your position, think in terms of –


a) Your objectives,

b) The strengths and weaknesses of your offering,

c) Your perceived competition,

d) Your target market

e) The needs of that market

f)  The trends apparent in the economy.

Ask yourself these basic questions:

¨     What business am I in?

¨     What is my goal?

¨     What benefits do I offer?

¨     What competitive advantages?

¨     What do I fear?

2.     Identify your target market.

Then, measure your position against four criteria:

¨     Does it offer a benefit that your target market really wants?

¨     Is it a valid benefit?

¨     Does it separate you from your competition?

¨     Is it unique and/or difficult to copy?

 3.     Create your strategy.

This can be accomplished with seven sentences:


¨     Explain your purpose. (To maximize profits, etc.)

¨     Describe how you will accomplish your purpose

     (list your competitive advantage and benefits).

¨     Describe your target market(s).

¨     Outline the marketing concepts you will consider employing.

¨     Describe your niche.

¨     Reveal the identity of your business. (It develops marketing strategies, etc.)

¨     State your anticipated budget (if estimable).

 4.     Set your positioning statement, mission statement and tagline.

The positioning statement reveals the identity of your offering; it explains what the product/service stands for ¾ why the offering has value and why it should be purchased. Unlike image, which is the impression you choose to make for your business, identity defines what your business is really about.

 5.     Consider your marketing plan.

The marketing plan –

a) Identifies the market,

b) Lists your goals,

c) Addresses, first, your long-term, then, your near-future vision,

d) Considers market share,

e) Sets timelines,

f) Makes projections,

g) Provides the promotional framework,

h) Specifies the media/methods to be utilized,

i) Considers personnel issues and outsourcing,

j) Reflects on potential obstacles/pitfalls,

k) Considers remedies

l) Estimates campaign costs.

6. Consider the use of a situational analysis(S.A.).

A S.A. includes information about your –


a) Key customers/clients,

b) Expected competition, and

c) The possibilities, probabilities and reality of the marketplace at (this) time.










May 13, 2014

Getting through to those “unreachable” editors

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 10:23 am




How to Get Editors to Read Your News Releases


Understanding these considerations, mistakes and myths will increase the probability of publication.


Q: What can I do to increase my chances of having my press releases used by a newspaper or magazine?


A: Whether you’re creating your PR, thinking about creating it or you’re just about to launch it, beware of these shortfalls, mistakes and other considerations:

Editors hate promotion. The purpose of publicity is to inform the public about news, events, people and things of that nature, not to tell a story. Editors and reporters are sensitive to what the reader wants to read. Since a significant portion of news in a news publication comes from press releases, editors want to see news. They hate promotion. If your press release contains information that is purely promotional and you try to disguise it as news, editors can pick out the promotion a mile away. Don’t do it. Save yourself the time and aggravation. Editors and reporters form opinions and perceptions about those that submit releases. If you continue the promotional angle, you will get the reputation of being a promoter. When you have real news to communicate, editors will then ignore you because of that reputation. Think news. Put yourself in the editor/reporter’s shoes and the reader’s shoes, and communicate newsworthy facts, not personal, promoting stories.

Don’t put out a press release announcing a time-sensitive event the day beforehand. Planning a publication and laying out a publication takes more time than overnight. Even though you see yesterday’s events communicated in today’s newspaper, it doesn’t mean there was a happenstance layout with no prior planning done. Editors and copy editors have a place for breaking stories, event announcements and general PR. Respect the fact that there is a degree of planning involved. Turn in any press releases related to time-sensitive events early enough so that an editor can plan accordingly. Communicating information today about an event tomorrow is not soon enough for most editors. Planning your own PR and associated press releases must be part of your event, product launch or personnel planning.

Make sure that your publicity has a news angle to it. You now know editors hate promotion. What they do like is news. Creating a newsworthy angle to anything increases the probability that something will get published. Sometimes just using the word “news” in the headline of a press release will indicate that. Usually anything with a time or date associated with it is considered news. Think announcements, events, happenings and occasions.

Local angles to national stories are also considered news. These sometimes can be human-interest stories. The national story is more newsworthy and satisfies the news requirement of most editors. Anniversaries are news. Promotions in management are news. Seminar announcements are news. New product information is news.

Consider what readers want to read. Put yourself in their shoes. Some news doesn’t matter to the readership. This is where identifying your target market comes in. You want to publicize in those places that are seen by your target market. If a particular publication doesn’t necessarily reach your product market, there is no reason to communicate your news. A business seminar announcement is of no use to a gardening club. Reorganization in the largest business in town is of no interest to sports junkies. Consider the publication; consider the readership; consider what else is publicized in a particular publication.

Don’t call the editor to see when your release might run. Over half of the press releases an editor receives are discarded, ignored or not used. Press releases hit an editor’s e-mail inbox or his or her fax machine sometimes like popcorn–there’s more than can be handled, managed and certainly published. An editor is generally in charge of other publication content. The day in the life of an editor is a case study in prioritization and time-management. Receiving a phone call from everyone who sent in a press release is an obstacle they don’t need nor choose to deal with. Once again, if you bug an editor and ask about placement, you will get a reputation. Editors need to be handled with TLC.

If you do contact editors or reporters, first ask them if they are “on deadline.” Sometimes there is reason to contact an editor. Maybe it’s returning a phone call they made to you for more information. The first thing you should say when phoning an editor is, “Are you on deadline?” Sometimes it’s 3:00 p.m., and they have a 5:00 p.m. deadline they are trying to meet and have three hours worth of work to cram into those two hours. Fielding a call related to prospective PR ruins that time-management. Editors want the opportunity to say, “I’m busy, leave me alone, I still want to talk to you but I’ve got a deadline.” Don’t be offended by this; its part of the PR business. 

Paid advertising generally has no bearing on publicity placement. One myth is that paid advertisers get preferential treatment for PR placement. This is a myth. Editors generally don’t talk to the advertising department. Now common sense does prevail when trying to take care of larger accounts and great advertisers. There may be an occasion where preference is given, but the general rule of thumb is that you won’t get preferential treatment for PR if you advertised.

NOTE: The tips mentioned above also apply to broadcast news; just replace the word “editor” with “producer.”

Understanding some of these quirks, rules, myths and considerations will increase your probability of getting your news placed in the publications that your target markets read.




May 6, 2014

Zig when others zag

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 4:51 pm

It seems almost a daily occurrence for someone to ask me for an answer to a “pressing question.” Many of these seem to have to do with isolating the most important elements in some advertising or public relations copy. Perhaps, therefore, it is pertinent for me to go on record with what I regard as the vital keys to effective marketing communication. To that end, I am offering several key points for your consideration.

The most compelling things in marketing communication are:

  1. A better (or, at least, worthy) product/service to promote
  2. Favorable word-of-mouth “advertising”
  3. A clear explanation of benefits
  4. A persuasive presentation
  5. Appropriate audience selection

Surprise: These are not necessarily listed in their order of importance!

About number one:

This one doesn’t ensure success; it merely establishes a solid foundation upon which to build the marketing. There are other considerations, e.g. a) did you put it in front of the right target audience and b) did you do so in a timely manner

About number two:

Though this can be the most powerful, it is always the slowest 

About number three:

It’s amazing to see how frequently marketing messages deal with features rather than benefits, and when benefits ARE stressed, how often it is done with “inside” terminology or “cute” buzzwords rather than the language of the street or, at least, the target audience.

 About number four:

Don’t fear a fresh approach. If others are saying it this way, don’t be afraid to say it that way. If others are being overly serious, don’t hesitate to incorporate a little humor; just make sure it makes your point and is in good taste.

About number five:

A tried and true (though ancient) marketing idiom says, “If you want to shoot elephants, go where the elephants are.”

In this age of overused superlatives, silly gimmicks, self-impressed copy and non-credible claims of superiority, grab the opportunity to be refreshingly different and shockingly simple. And remember, “brevity is the soul of wit” (thank you, Will Shakespeare). If you can say it just as well – or better – with nine words rather than 20 words, by all means, do it!

At the end of the day . . .  (forgive me: just once, I couldn’t resist the temptation to use the number one cliché of this century) . . . the thing that separates effective marketing communication from the blah, blah, blah variety is sharp-edged prose flavored with points of differentiation. Although even the infallible Google couldn’t tell me the originator of the term, Dare to be different (it has been co-opted so very many times), I’ll dare to use it here. Alas:

Dare to be different!  The other choice is to blend in and be unnoticed or forgotten. And, dare I add, neither is desirable nor affordable. What’s more, bad communication usually costs every bit as much to put out there as good communication. The only important difference is found in the results.

Happy marketing!