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As a small to medium business owner, you may be struggling on which marketing strategy serves you best: digital advertising or publicity? You have been working with traditional PR mediums such as earned editorial coverage in magazines, newspapers, TV shows, sites and blogs from the very beginning, but by witnessing your competitors fueling their online presence on social media, you can’t seem to grasp why you aren’t getting the exposure you are seeking.
Don’t panic. Today we would like to share with you our professional views on the two strategies, along with 5 insider tips to boost your business through cost-effective marketing.
Indeed, digital media is alluring. The age of social media and mobile technology has arrived, and we are no longer satisfied by reaching the national audience via print, TV and radio. With investment on social media, search engine optimization, and analytics tools, marketing becomes more visible, beginner-friendly, and traceable. By simply clicking and modifying the dashboards on your screen, you are now able to advertise to a broader and international audience with the click of a button.
However, digital advertising is expensive, and what’s worse, your success can be copied easily. If we look back at our old friend, traditional PR, there are some strong reasons why it’s been mainstream for so many years.
Traditional PR focuses on making the brand more credible and authentic, instead of fake and popular. Getting a 3rd party endorsement from a media outlet can never be purchased, and neither does customers’ trust.
Furthermore, anyone can copy you but only you have the legacy of your brand. Though it cannot produce glamorous numbers overnight, PR is the only marketing tool that can protect your reputation and maintain an active relationship with the press.
Thirdly, we covet the huge audience base digital advertising can dig into, but we often forget that media outlets can also reach hundreds, thousands, or even millions of readers and viewers – much more than you may be able to afford to reach through its advertising counterpart.
Lastly, compared to the digital version of advertising, a Neuroscience study shows that traditional PR, especially hard-copy marketing, is more digestible and memorable for the audience. In a research sponsored by Canada Post and performed by Canadian neuro-marketing firm TrueImpact,
“Direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media (5.15 vs. 6.37), suggesting that it is both easier to understand and more memorable…… When asked to cite the brand (company name) of an advertisement they had just seen, recall was 70% higher among participants who were exposed to a direct mail piece (75%) than a digital ad (44%).”
Overall, we truly believe that digital advertising and PR are never life-or-death rivals. If you are on a lean budget, you may want to spend it wisely, and taking both sides’ pros and cons into consideration. Here are 5 marketing tips from us.
1) Digital advertising and PR should work hand-in-hand. In fact, according to our years of industrial experience, we notice that the two strategies are never incompatible, but complementary. One gives local believability while another amplifies border-free sensation.
2) Don’t steal from your PR budget to counter the enormous expense of paid advertising. Every penny should count for your business, and it’s wiser to separate the risks by building a strategic marketing mix.
3) Whether it’s online or offline marketing, do your research before you reach out. Know who you are approaching – journalists, influencers, celebrities, outlets, etc. and then connect them with their interests and get on their radar. You are not just selling your product; you are selling yourself.
4) Don’t write 1,000 words when 300 will do. Be concise and tailored. Who doesn’t prefer a short and sweet piece with their name on it?
5) Finally, don’t be put off. Digital advertising cannot guarantee 100% success, just like there is a lot of rejection in traditional . But with a thick skin and a strong mind, you can make it eventually.
A recent article in AdWeek reveals 81% of Gen Z shoppers are influenced by what their friends buy. The new research comes from a student data company, Amplify, in partnership with a Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail. The first of Gen Z, born in 1997, is graduating college in the summer of 2019 and entering the workforce for the first time.
The same poll found that only 10% of Gen Z’s purchasing decisions are made by what celebrities are doing. When asked what they do before they make a purchase, 80% of the Gen Z shoppers polled said they do online research.
The next generation of shoppers are searching curated media, reviews, shopping sites, YouTube channels, SnapChat and Instagram feeds for trends and products, then checking with their friends for validation on their purchase. Once a celebrity is talking about it, it’s saturated the market; it’s no longer new and different. Everyone has access.
This describes a culture shift. Celebrities used to have influence because they represented what was aspirational—now what they are paid to promote is too attainable.
Take that to the next level and paid “micro-influencers” and “nano-influencers,” said to be the gatekeepers of social media, are going to have even less impact on Gen Z buying.
This is because everyone is getting paid to post. Even Amazon reviews can be bought. Consumers have to be smart and search for unpaid third-party endorsements and testimonials like media they respect and people they trust.
The only thing that is going to have an impact is authenticity. Brands need to identify and nurture relationships with their impactors—consumers who genuinely use and appreciate their products—and motivate them to tell their circle of friends online and offline, no matter how large or tight their following.
To convert your buyers into your impactors you need to give them the same three things you want from them.
Give them feedback: If you want your consumers to be talking about your brand, you need to show them that you are listening. Pay attention to what they are saying on social and connect with them directly.
Give them loyalty: If you want your consumers to stay loyal to your brand, show your loyalty to them and that they are not just one of the millions of people who you are trying to sell to. Reward them for their purchase, give them more to talk about to sound smart and informed.
Give them attention: If you want your consumers to give you attention on their social feeds, you need to do the same and provide media opportunities for them that give them a platform to be heard and expand your reach and theirs.
You can get media publicity for your brand without influencers but having influencers without media publicity as a platform is moot. True ambassador programs, discounts, and rewards will only go so far and continue to get increasingly more costly and less effective and efficient. If you want influencers to have an impact on your brand you need to impact their personal brands in return by giving them a megaphone for their message and yours.
As seen in Whole Foods Magazine
All PR is good PR. Maybe. Any PR is a start. Even the cookie cutter approach of submitting a press release to a wire service and waiting for it to generate pick up can have some benefit.
Smart brands need to be more proactive than that.
You shouldn’t rely on a press release to generate buzz in this competitive media landscape where “me-too” products are being introduced daily.
Here are a few PR strategies often neglected by earlier stage companies.
Communicate with the trades – Reaching for the stars is great. Try to get on the Today show, it will do your brand good. In the meantime, trade publications are respected and read by the buyers making decisions at the retail level. Stay top of mind by staying in the trades. Read them to know what your competitors are circulating and what retailers are trying to achieve.
Leverage industry conferences for press – 90 percent of the work that goes into a trade show should happen before you set foot on the show floor, it’s a year-round effort. Media relations needs to be a focal point for trade show success.
Start reaching out to local media before national - Most trends start on the coasts, west or east, and then spread across the US. Start by owning your own backyard and you can soon take a brand from local obscurity into mainstream consciousness.
Support your associations and retailers before expecting they will support you - Mass merchants take on brands that are successful in independents and with a PR push your brand will be even more successful and retailers will see you are supporting them.
Seed products to celebrities that you know you can reach because you have a strong ideological or real connection – It’s not what you say about your brand that counts. It’s what other people say. Often perception is more important than reality and celebrities are perceived to be experts. Seeding products to them anyway you can whether directly or through gift bags and events will help get in the right hands. Getting celebrity connections is the first step. Working them for press coverage is a skill.
Have an expert on board – You don’t need to have a paid spokesperson but you do need someone other people trust to answer questions about why your fitness brand is better than others.
Try these low budget, big brand PR tactics and you might just be able to fake it ‘til you make it.