There is a certain trend that has been developed during the last thirty years and widely promoted in marketing academia which is the misleading notion that marketing means advertising.
Companies often spend most of their marketing budget on advertising. The belief is that advertising will help them sell their product and build more market share quicker than any other possible strategy.
This belief is based on bad reasoning. You cannot sell a brand before that brand is established.
More than ever companies are building their house starting from the roof rather than from the foundations.
When your positioning is essentially based on who has the lowest price it’s a race to the bottom. The problem with a race to the bottom is that you might actually win. Then you’d be left with the lowest value product: and people would associate you with low quality to go with it.
Indeed, what allows a company to develop and prosper is not the overall revenue but the margin it has been able to create and, consequently, to invest to consolidate itself while amplifying its customers’ reach.
A company should position itself in the part of the mind where it is seen as the solution to a particular need.
How can a company position itself to do that? By becoming a market leader.
According to Al Ries, the best way to become a market leader as soon as possible is by creating a new category. In my first company Radio Relations, the category of Radio PR hadn’t been defined. By creating the category of Radio PR rather than Broadcast PR, Radio Relations became a genuine market leader albeit in a niche, within a niche, within a niche. However for larger sectors creating a new category requires a lot of courage as often another brand has already broken into a new sector.
Since most companies tend to join an already existing market, how can they try to identify a valuable key difference between them and their competitors and get more margins without competing on price?
This is a question many marketing departments aren’t able to answer.
Is it their fault?
In an over-saturated market where anyone can search through hundreds of companies, it’s no surprise that it’s difficult to stand out from the crowd.
Trends can be followed enthusiastically without ever actually managing to say anything new. Being ‘creative’ for the sake of doing something new often results in an inconsistent or confusing message. It is far better to take some time, and come up with a considered approach to the problem of creativity.
What do you offer that is new, what do you do that is different? Start with what you can offer, then think about a way to market it that you haven’t seen before. Is there a new angle to be exploited?
Marketing is most effective when a variety of techniques are used. There is a major misconception around the rule of advertising in marketing, it’s not the only tool to use for marketing but just one part of the overall marketing strategy.
The most effective image that comes to my mind when I try to describe marketing is that marketing is a puzzle made up of different pieces, none more important than the other. Some might be bigger, but without them all together, the picture isn’t whole.
What are the names of these puzzle pieces?
Advertising is just one piece that can be as big as the budget you decide to allocate to it. However, that budget should depend on the best channel for you. Which one achieves the best results for you right now? Which could do you think could go on to achieve the best results for you in the future?
It has been widely shown that most businesses rely on one or two of these channels without ever considering any others. Sometimes they don’t even know how to optimally use their main channels properly to be as efficient as they should be. This should be your main priority.
So what is the main function of advertising?
Advertising can be useful either to defend your positioning from aggressive competition or to consistently sustain your brand in the mind of the customer. The values associated with your brand, which is your brand positioning itself, can be effectively communicated through advertising, but this detracts time away from the ‘selling’ aspect of the advert.
Advertising is often unsuitable to create a brand. Advertising is often very good at defending a brand or market share once it’s established. Before doing advertising, you must create a brand. Think Facebook, Tesla, Google, YouTube, SnapChat – zero advertising to build the brand.
Most of the marketing and sales departments however do the opposite: they start advertising a product manufactured recently with the aim to use a strategy to create brand awareness.
The basic process of a marketing department can be defined in a short line:
Start with the what and end with the why. Which is exactly the opposite of how the brain works when it comes to making decisions.
What is a decision? A decision is a motivated action.
To echo Simon Sinek, the marketing process should be inverted. Start with the why. End with the what. You should start by asking:
“How can I help my company shift from a business that manufactures products to a brand that people immediately think of as a solution to their problem?”
Answer: Adopting an approach of consistent PR.
Why PR is paramount for the long-term sustainability of your business model and your company’s life?
PR is based on third party endorsements: blogs, newspapers, online newspapers, radio, tv but also trade shows, network events, testimonials or affiliate marketing, any or all of which can play a major part when it comes to building a solid PR strategy that builds your credibility in the mind of your target audience. A two-day PR campaign or an ad-hoc press release is not a strategy. A one-off rather than a sustained plan.
To be effective, a PR campaign must be patient and persistent. The marketing department of any company should allocate resources to PR, especially during the first five years because that is the period when you create your brand, and it can be very difficult to change the public’s perception of who you are. Ideally you would have a monthly budget aimed to get as much targeted relevant coverage as possible.
Getting positive attention is one of the most important and measurable assets a company can have in the current economy. Positive attention is a commodity you should be chasing and willingly allocating time and money into to build your brand in the mind of your audience.
Even when you boost your product with a simple online ad you are claiming attention. You want that attention, but you also want to build confidence in you and what you do. Ultimately, you want to be able to do as little work as possible to convince your potential customer to buy your product. You shouldn’t have to convince your target audience to choose you by the end of a long campaign. They should know you, they should trust you, they shouldn’t have to make a choice about whether to do business with you.
Visibility is always better than obscurity. You do not build a business by staying in the office, hoping people come to you. Make your business work for you. You could immediately start boosting the third-party endorsement you have had recently, along with advertising, to convey to your target audience that you are credible, newsworthy, that your company has been considered worthy of praise and are therefore worthy of trust.
Just consider this: attention is limited. What you get must be taken from someone else. Attention is like time, it is a resource. The better you are at getting attention, in managing attention, in driving attention to what you do, why you do it, and how you do it, the less attention your competitors will be getting.
One of the simplest ways to get started in raising your credentials is through broadcast PR. Radio has 90% audience reach per week and by putting forward a spokesperson from your brand you’ll be achieving awareness, brand positioning, credibility and well as thought leadership all in one go.
If you haven’t already considered a consistent, stable and long-term PR strategy that includes radio, TV or online, fill in the contact form here, or call at our office on 020 7158 0000.