PR & Marketing

The one common denominator I see in companies that don’t succeed is a lack of marketing. To be more precise, I should specifically state, “PR & Marketing.”

Companies that rely heavily on Sales are asking salesman to not only close deals, but also cold call, nurture and develop prospects up to the point where they can work on closing the deal.

Companies that only do marketing (no capital “M” for a reason here) concentrate on creating and sending out collateral, building websites and landing pages, doing email and snail mail blasts, creating “rich” copy full of platitudes and descriptions and buzzwords.

I cannot tell you how many websites I’ve visited where it was obvious that product descriptions were created by “marketing folks” using a specific dialect known as “marketing-speak” that sounds fancy and rolls off the tongue sounding elegant and persuasive—but doesn’t have even a hint of rock-solid product description.

The purpose of Marketing is to convey meaningful information to prospective customers that educate, enlighten, and strive to convince the prospective customer that the product or service being advertised solves the problem(s) that potential customer is experiencing.

Here’s an example. You have a home with a busted pipe and water is pouring out. You find the water valve that turns off water to the entire house, so the leak is stopped. But now you have no water. You pull out a Yellow Pages (old, archaic version of the internet with information printed on yellow paper) or fire up Google and search for plumbers in your area.

You see three ads. The first two say something like, “Serving the metro area since 1989. We have radio-controlled fleets and are happy to serve all your plumbing needs.”

The third ad says, “Fast, emergency service. We don’t gouge you. No butt cracks visible.”

Which ad are you going to respond to? If you say the first one, you really don’t have an emergency. The third ad comes right to the point, communicates to the homeowner in a crisis in the manner that he’s thinking, and speaks directly to his main concerns.

Marketing that speaks to the prospective customers in their language and terms and in the attitude or tone of that specific public, gets assimilated by those prospects. Marketing that addresses customer problems and concerns also gets assimilated. Marketing that addresses the specific problems and concerns, using language terms and attitude of the intended recipient, gets assimilated and remembered.

“Marketing” that doesn’t match these criteria gets ignored.

The “one” in the one-two punch of PR & Marketing can be concisely stated as dealing with the media. The media is your best ally. Dealing with the media effectively and professionally results in great publicity for your company and product. Some call it free advertising, which it is not. For one thing, it’s not free because you need to invest in someone to do the PR and there’s a lot of work involved, and done right it doesn’t advertise your product.

What it does is make you or the company the expert in the field—which migrates over into your marketing materials being more believable. Customers habitually disbelieve advertising, considering it hype. But if they consider the subject or source of the advertising to be the expert, AND the advertising follows the above criteria, then the advertising is more believable. In addition, effective PR creates an interest in the company and product or service.

Working in harmony, PR & Marketing drive interested customers to your door. Web page hits lead to email inquiries and replies, which leads to phone calls and conversations and ultimately purchasing, whether in person, over the phone or online.

PR & Marketing. The backbone of successful companies and rapidly increasing sales.

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A Great PR Caper

Among other cool projects in my automotive career, I had the good fortune to work on the original Dodge Viper. While then-Chrysler reaped many benefits from this vehicle launch, it was a PR bonanza of major proportions.

How so?

The free media coverage generated by this car was astronomical. You can’t buy the kind of ga-ga gushing coverage from journalists that they wrote or talked on-air about this car.

Originally released in “any color you want, so long as it’s red,” when the next color was announced, jet black, Jay Leno was first in line and took delivery of the first black Viper. That’s newsworthy in itself, a well-known celebrity with a passion for cars plunking his cash down on a potential collector car.

But eclipsing that event was when the first-ever Viper (in red) was delivered to Los Angeles, it was featured on the 6:00 news. I was in Los Angeles and happened to see the newscast. I was dumbfounded at the coverage. Before or since, I have never seen coverage on the arrival of a car at a dealership.

When the opening of the newscast listed the major news being reported, the delivery of “First Viper in LA” was mentioned. When the segment aired, there was a reporter at the car dealership with a team filming live as the first LA Viper was being backed off the car transporter and driven past the camera, complete with the requisite vroom-vroom.

The excitement in the reporter’s voice about this newsworthy event surprised me. Here they were, in Tinseltown where movie stars and celebrities dominate the headlines, and they’re agog over a car? They were more excited than covering the Oscars or a grand opening of the next blockbuster at Mann’s Chinese Theater.

Delving into how this was accomplished or the reason for the enthusiasm is a research project that digs into what lies behind successful PR. I’d like to focus on the impact of successful PR and how this helps a product’s success.

How much press coverage did Chrysler receive for the Dodge Viper? More than they could have purchased if they spent the entire vehicle development budget on media advertising.

What was even more astounding was that Chrysler was solidly recovering from its second death knell. The LH sedans, dubbed “Last Hope” by the media, had been launched and were a success. The Neon had launched and was doing well. Minivans continued to be strong, and the new Dodge Ram pick-up was making waves.

But the general public perception of Chrysler was still of a company on the verge of bankruptcy. Again. The media didn’t cover the resurgence of a nearly-dead car company, nor the strong sales of several new models. Instead, they went ga-ga over a hot-rod, overpowered sports car that looked and sounded bad to the bone.

Perhaps the fact that Chrysler was in such dire straits and could pull off a car like the Viper made the story that much more interesting.

The end result was nationwide media publicity of the Viper that drove customer awareness and showroom traffic that spilled over into sales of all Dodge vehicles.

The moral of this story? Great PR drives brand and product awareness and interest. Awareness and interest result in serious consideration of the product, resulting in the purchase.

Before The Close occurs, the customer needs to move through the steps of awareness, interest, investigation, serious consideration, decision, and then purchase. PR is your starting point to drive awareness and interest. Marketing takes over to increase interest, satisfy investigation, develop interest into serious consideration, turn that into ready to decide, all of which primes the customer to finally decide and purchase.

(As mentioned in my previous blog post, great PR & Marketing can move the customer all the way through to deciding to buy and ready to purchase, making The Close easy.)

If you want to go viral, PR is an essential ingredient. I tend to lump it in with Marketing as both of them change and shape customer opinion, but PR is a technology in its own right and should be recognized for what it brings to the table.

Use PR properly and watch your bottom line soar.