My niece hit me up on Facebook last night with a most excellent request:
Was hoping I could pick your brain for a moment? What would you say are the major differences between PR & marketing/advertising? Not in a technical sense, but rather, your opinion, as someone in PR. Nothing fancy or time consuming needed, just looking for your thoughts on the basic concept?
Here is my reply…
Hey Erin! Excellent question. Marketing is really the big umbrella under which PR and advertising (among a hundred other tactics) reside. So from a marketing perspective, we are addressing the market and business conditions that affect an organization. We are looking at the economy, competition, prospects, customers, influentials (such as the media or bloggers or associations) and other things to determine the climate for marketing a product, service or cause. At this level we are identifying challenges and opportunities and setting the measurable goals we want to achieve, as well as the timetables and budgets for achieving these goals.
Advertising and PR are two of the many strategized tactics that might be applied to help achieve those goals. Today, we tend to look at these tactics in terms of traditional and digital media, so on the one hand we consider options like print and broadcast advertising, publicity and media relations, direct mail and literature development (sometimes referred to as outbound marketing) and on the digital side we consider things like email marketing and social media and search engine optimization and online advertising (sometimes referred to as inbound marketing).
Of course, I am oversimplifying all of this for the purpose of general discussion, so please feel free to ask me specific questions. I am happy to talk about any and all of this in as much detail as you would like! Marketing is not rocket science; unfortunately many practitioners treat it as though there is no science involved whatsoever and that is not the case.
In the real world, the idea of doing something that has already been attempted and/or accomplished is considered a waste of time.
In the world of marketing, the idea of beating a dead horse is not only acceptable, it is often recommended.
The age-old answer to the age-old question – “How long should I run the same ad?” – supports this concept. “You run it for as long as it works!” Yeah, there are lots of other answers, some supported by scientific studies and most bolstered by personal opinions. And there are mitigating circumstances (like the size of the budget to produce more ads or a change in messaging).
Once upon a time, a seasoned (and probably drunk) ad guy told me that you run an ad until the marketplace is sick of it, then you run it some more. That is the essence of beating a dead horse.
In an age – the digital one to be precise – where everything is in a constant state of change and transformation, the idea of staying the course and beating the horse is anathema. Plus, it is hard for agencies to make money and employees to justify their jobs if they keep doing the same thing.
Unless, of course, doing the same thing is the right thing to do.
Oscar Wilde would argue that “consistency is the refuge of the unimaginative”, and that is a safe harbor for some to moor their boats. But in this case, I defer to the words of Confucius: “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
Flying back from Atlanta yesterday, I purchased and attempted to read through the September issue of WIRED magazine.
Talk about “57 Channels and Nothin’ On”. I’ve been in the business for more than three decades now and I still had to struggle to figure out where the editorial started and the advertising ended. And when all was said and done, the advertising was more interesting and more informative than most of the editorial.
Once upon a time in America, news actually had value. Now everything is pitched as news. A tweet of Anthony Weiner’s wiener is news. And the real news is so sensationalized and overhyped, it appears to be a farce. As I watched Jim Cantore on the Weather Channel last night hunkered at the intersection of Hurricane Isaac and Cheap Ratings Avenue, I couldn’t help but wonder when the world became so… patronized?
It’s probably just me. I know many people (mostly my age) who live for their daily newspaper and their nightly TV news. And I know an equal number of people (mostly not my age) who salivate with each news alert that appears on their iPhone and each new Tweet they receive.
But for my taste, it mostly all sucks.
I am ever so grateful to those handful of news resources that continue to fight the good fight. People like Charlie Rose on PBS who actually understand what a newsworthy story is (even when it is an entertainment story) and deliver it in an engaging format. Magazines like Fast Company that provide meaningful and interesting insight in a well-designed publication. And even shows like ABC Nightline that at least attempt to deliver real news in a professional and entertaining manner.
I guess the only good news (pun intended) is that when news is finally taken off of life support and allowed to take its last breath, we won’t know, since no one will be there to report it.
Inundated with media kits, phone calls and too many choices for your ad dollars? Take a deep breath. Allocating your advertising dollars is not about applying some mathematical formula. It’s about your overall goals for your ad campaign, what you want to accomplish with your ads, and who you want to reach… and how much money you have to spend.
Keep in mind there are endless advertising possibilities out there, especially now in the digital age. The biggest mistake you can make is spreading yourself too thin.
1. Depending on your goals, advertising may involve a mix of online and print media. But with diversification comes the risk of spreading yourself – and your budget – thin.
2. Do your research. Don’t take ad proposals at face value. Explore all offerings using media kits, and if it’s a publication, make sure to request a BPA statement to confirm circulation and target audience.
3. Consider testing competitive outlets and media using the same creative. Track the results and see what was more effective.
4. Don’t hesitate to ask for something different – or even ask for more. Proposals aren’t the end-all be-all. Many ad reps are willing to work with you and your budgets to help meet your needs. Oftentimes they are also willing to use test campaigns as a way to secure long-term commitments.
While sitting at a local restaurant watching game 3 of the Stanley Cup on Monday night – NJ Devils vs. LA Kings, if you haven’t been in the loop – I heard from table to table, “Because it’s the cup.” I’ll have another beer, because it’s the cup! Let’s order more wings, because it’s the cup!
I could not help but laugh to myself, and too found myself reciting the campaign slogan in a comedic manor. After thinking about the slogan, I did some research and found the campaign was targeted at the casual fan who watches the game in a social setting. Switching gears from their previous campaign “History Will be Made,” the NHL tailored their new campaign to reach a broader audience, positioning the cup as a fun, social event, rather than all-about-hockey.
I must say, this resonated with me, and became somewhat of an inside joke between our group of friends. As casual hockey fan – I’ve been to three games in the past year – it gave me something I could relate to with my hardcore hockey fan friends. I did not have to know anything about past Stanley Cup games, the record of the LA Kings or NJ Devils, or anything related to hockey for that matter.
Think of this in terms of other sporting events. People who watch the Super Bowl are not necessarily football fans. FIFA World Cup, same idea. “Because it’s the Cup” ties together the idea that sports are not only about technicalities and competition, they are about social gathering and interaction, and everyone coming together “because”.
Targeting your messaging to your audience does not always have to be about clever rhyming words with bells and whistles. Some of the best campaigns have been to the point, pithy and short messages that resonate. Step back from your messaging and think for a minute. Who are you targeting? Who are you missing that you should be targeting?
This all goes back to my blog post last week on Advertising. Make sure you are crafting messaging that your audience can identify with.
And now, watch this ad and raise your cup, because it’s the cup.
Considering online advertising, but not sure where to start? Or maybe you discovered one website you feel is a direct fit for your target audience and want to test it. The key is to develop and assess an online advertising strategy evaluating all opportunities across the web, rather than just relying on one or two sites that may seem attractive.
The first step as with all marketing and advertising strategies is to develop measurable goals. Do you want to drive more traffic to your website? If yes, by how much? Do you want to increase online and/or retail sales? If yes, by how much? How much are you willing to spend per e-commerce or retail sales conversion?
Second, consider what type of online advertising is the best approach. Options include search engine display advertising programs like Google Adwords, search engine pay-per-click (PPC), industry specific websites, media (magazines, newspaper, television, radio) websites, blogs and social media advertising (Facebook, YouTube, etc.) – or a combination of these.
Research options based on where you anticipate your customers and prospects are most active and engaged, and then confirm this with the outlets. For social media sites, blogs, industry and media websites ask for and review media kits – which should include visitor statistics and demographics – and case studies based on the success of other advertisers.
For search engine display advertising research the website categories you can target and talk with the search engine advertising reps to determine what you can expect as far as results. It is more challenging with search engine display advertising to gain specific website visitor stats, demographics and advertising results since these sites sell advertising through a company like Google rather than directly.
The benefit of working with search engines (PPC or display advertising) is you can track results virtually real time. This includes sales if you effectively incorporate your shopping cart into the search engine reporting system. This will allow you to make adjustments to the campaigns whenever you see fit. Working with industry websites, blogs or media websites you will need to rely on their tracking methods and reports to help you determine results.
Similar to traditional advertising, there are many options and considerations when determining if online advertising is right for your brand. The best way to determine how to move forward is to do your research, put measurable goals in place, develop compelling creative and a strong call to action and then test, test and test again.
Intrigued, I visited yonanas.com and learned about a new kitchen gadget that can turn overripe bananas into delicious, healthy soft serve ice cream. This marketing seemed directed right at me. I’m often faced with the dilemma of what to do with the last banana in the bunch that I just don’t want to eat. And as someone who loves ice cream but hates how bad it is for me, I thought the marketing and product was a great idea. There was even a video on the website showing yonanas featured on The Today Show. A quick scan of the yonanas Facebook page reveals a few people who saw the stickers and plan on purchasing a machine.
While this is definitely an unorthodox marketing strategy, it was a critical reminder to think beyond the obvious marketing strategies. In the case of yonanas, using the banana peel as advertising space made absolute sense, and they used smart creative and a clear call to action to support their message. This is an excellent example of using an ad to engage rather than invade. Rather than being offended to find an ad on my banana, I actually appreciate how well the company understands their target audience.
For your next campaign, consider how can you reach your customers with an ad that makes sense in their daily lives. There is no limit or shortage of possible locations for your next ad.
A case study detailing the specific results of how your company or product helped overcome a unique or difficult challenge can be a powerful marketing tool. Since developing case studies is often time consuming, be sure to maximize their use.
Here are our top five tips for getting more value from your case studies.
1. Secure Media Coverage: You can achieve media coverage for your case studies one of two ways. First, you can develop a news release detailing the situation and high-level results of the successful project, and distribute/pitch to media as a story with a spokesperson available for interview. Or you can also offer key non-competing media the full case study to run as a bylined article; media are always looking for good content focused on real world applications.
2. Develop Engaging Blog Content: Divide your case study into several smaller segments and post a blog series on the project. Ensure each post leaves readers with a reason to come back for the full story.
3. Secure Speaking Opportunities: Use your case study as a way to secure a speaker at an industry show. Most industry shows/conferences are looking for good examples of how attendees can apply new/existing technology in their field. Ask your client to present with you as a team. The show is more likely to select presentations that include peers talking to peers and do not seem like a sales presentation.
4. Video Development: Consider documenting end results and customer testimonials on video. A video version of your success story can easily be incorporated into your website, online advertising, social media, email marketing, mobile marketing and even media relations strategies.
5. Advertising Campaign: If you have several interesting case studies with impactful results, consider structuring your next ad campaign as a series of testimonial stories focusing on applications and results .
Measuring marketing campaigns is key to determining if you should continue a campaign and necessary when showing upper management the value of marketing. The first step is setting measurable objectives and ensuring each marketing strategy has measurement metrics in place.
Following are six simple ways to help measure the success of your campaigns.
1. Develop dedicated landing pages for each ad, blogger campaign, QR code and email marketing campaign to better assess which strategies are driving results. Take this a step further and test messaging and design by developing more than one unique landing page for the same campaign to better understand what creative and content are most effective.
2. Install Google Analytics on your website. Visit http://www.google.com/analytics/ to sign up for a free account. Google Analytics will provide a simple code you can include on every page of your website, which will allow you to track which sources are driving the most web traffic (i.e. which search terms are most influential and which sites refer the most traffic). Google Analytics will help you track dedicated landing pages activity.
If you sell product online be sure your ecommerce is linked to analytics. This will help you determine what is driving sales.
3. Use dedicated phone numbers for different marketing/advertising campaigns. Track the number of calls and time spent on each call for each number to determine what is most effective.
4. Provide special offers linked to discount or promotional codes. Create a unique code for each campaign. When customers purchase product online (or even in stores) and use the code, you will be able to measure which strategies are most effective at driving sales. This works well for blogger relations campaigns, social media promotions, print and broadcast advertising.
5. Measuring intangible campaign results like brand awareness and changes in perceptions/beliefs is a bit more difficult. If you can, administer a survey to your target audience to assess awareness and opinions prior to the campaign, and use the research results to establish benchmarks. When your campaign is complete, redistribute the survey to determine if the campaign has impacted awareness levels and succeeded in changing existing perceptions.
6. A similar approach can be successful for measuring the impact of publicity and media relations. Conduct a media audit with target outlets before and after your PR campaign to measure media’s familiarity with your company. Of course do not forget to track media coverage and keep track of how many people each story has the potential to reach. For online media stories that include your URL, check your website analytics to see how much traffic the media stories are driving to your website.
When considering advertising – whether it be print, broadcast, online or even through Facebook – run a test campaign before making a long term commitment. This is a good method for determining if advertising in general – and a specific outlet in particular – is an effective strategy for your brand. And while the definition of a test campaign implies a much smaller cost, you still need to ensure those dollars are well spent and ultimately provide useful information to shape your advertising strategy moving forward.
Below are our top five quick-tips for securing the most data from your ad test campaign.
1. Establish Accurate Metrics. In order to understand whether a test is effective – and ultimately make a decision on whether it will be part of your long-term strategy – you need to specifically correlate customer response to a particular ad or campaign. Using a distinct phone number, web page or sales code or phrase to pursue an offer are simple ways to track responses.
2. Test competitive outlets. Use the same creative to reach two different outlets at the same time. Be sure to establish measurable outcomes to track the results from each outlet separately. You may learn that advertising in the leading trade magazine is ineffective, but that its competitor delivers impactful results. If you simply had tested with the leader, you may have decided not to pursue advertising at all.
3. Test different messages with the same outlet. Similarly, once you understand your best medium, try testing different messaging with the same audience to determine what drives the best results.
4. Provide a very specific call to action. This goes hand-in-hand with the importance of establishing metrics for a test campaign. Use the test as an opportunity to drive a specific action among your prospects. A high level branding campaign takes time and frequency to deliver results, and therefore is not conducive to a test campaign. Instead of trying to change a perception or raise awareness in general, use a test campaign to drive a measurable behavior. This will enable you to know sooner whether the campaign has been effective.
5. Always ask for more. Ad sales reps use test campaigns as a way to secure long-tem advertising commitments, and they understand that the more effective a test is, the better chance you will become a regular customer. Always ask for multi-media support when running a test campaign (i.e. ask for no-cost banner ads to support your radio test, or ask for an e-blast sponsorship to support your magazine ad).
Not that anyone will ever see this film or even care… it is worth reporting that Morgan Spurlock has now done for the branding and advertising community what he previously did for the fast food industry.
Though not due for release on DVD until August 23, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold was released domestically at theaters back in April. The production budget was $1.8 million and box office receipts to date are $636,928, meaning not a lot of people have seen it yet.
It is, in a sentence, “A documentary about branding, advertising and product placement that is financed and made possible by brands, advertising and product placement.”
A staggering 82% of the people who saw it gave it a rating of A or B, and Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine says: “I’m buying into Spurlock. As ever, he makes you laugh till it hurts.” I say, “It is a riches of embarrassment.”
As a movie fan, I love it. As a tenured industry insider, I must admit that the my laughter was eventually replaced by muffled cries of sadness. In his own entertaining way, Spurlock manages to shine a light on all the worst that exists in our business, surprising even me at times.
[Editorial Disclaimer: Though I did not sponsor this film with product placements, I nonetheless highly recommend it.]
Hello Diet Coke! Goodbye Pepsi.
Hello traditional media! See you later online marketing.
According to the Wall Street Journal: “PepsiCo made a big bet in 2010, when it didn’t market its flagship cola on the Super Bowl or in other TV spots. Instead, it launched the Refresh Project, an online charitable-giving program that disbursed $20 million in donations “for refreshing ideas that change the world.”
Here’s the bottomline: when it comes to marketing there is no silver bullet or magic potion, let alone an effortless solution or easy answer.
The most effective product and brand marketing campaigns involve a mix of traditional, digital and social media strategies that feature connectiveness as a priority characteristic. Not just integrated marketing strategies, but interactively connected tactics that enable consumers to participate through all the media and in all the channels they prefer – TV, websites, newspapers, blogs, magazines, text, e-mail, snail mail, blogs, coupons, mobile apps, telemarketing, outdoor, in-store, events, exhibits, seminars, webinars, podcasts, in-game, etc.
Or get used to being #3.
Is mass media advertising dead? Are there so many targeted options that I shouldn’t use it? Conversely, is mass media so splintered and difficult to measure that I shouldn’t use it? (e.g. broadcast, cable and satellite television)
Associate Vice President, University Communications and Marketing
By Jennifer Manocchio
Mass media advertising is not dead. TV still remains king of all media and should still be considered a sound advertising strategy. Consider these facts:
While mass media is difficult (costly) to measure compared to other strategies, some goals are difficult to measure no matter how targeted the strategy. So let’s break this down:
If your goal is to create awareness and build brand, mass media fits the bill. You can reach hundreds or thousands or hundreds of millions and make initial connections and build credibility. And yes, Virginia, you can measure the results. But you must be willing to invest in benchmark and follow-up research.
If your goal is to drive web site traffic or increase calls into a toll-free number or push consumers into a retail outlet, mass media also works; it’s just a different approach to messaging and creative. It’s not so much about the brand as it is the offer.
Can you use targeted strategies to do the same thing? Yes. Can you even use them in combination? Yes. Is there a “best” solution? Probably, but that depends on each individual situation. There is never a single right answer; this is not a shelf service business.
On any given day, for any given situation, mass media and/or targeted media may be the best solution. There is no easy answer. And by the way, measurement is a requirement for both strategies.
But mass media is not dead and in fact, will likely never die. It will continue to evolve as it has for the past century (we are including radio and film along with TV here). Even media geniuses like Jason Kilar acknowledge that people will continue to want to sit around their living rooms or at local establishments and share “shows” and “events” and “news”, if for no other reason than to socialize and have something to talk about around the water cooler the next day. Only mass media can provide that experience.
Have a marketing, public relations, social media or advertising question? Post your question below or email exeqnation at gmail dot com. We are committed to answering your marketing questions real time. And if we don’t know the answer, we’ll contact one of our valued partners who will.