About Larry Bauer

Larry Bauer is a highly skilled, experienced writer who brings an extensive marketing background to his copywriting. You’ll notice from the questions he asks that Larry understands business, how companies get to market, and how to communicate to customers. His ability to think strategically, combined with an appealing, conversational writing style, makes his copy both reader-friendly and effective.

Posts by Larry Bauer:

2009’s Top Ten Marketing Resolutions

  1. 10resolutions-4blog1Get out more—develop a social media plan. It’s relatively inexpensive and moves you into a fast developing marketing arena. To get up to speed, check out “Integrating Social Media”.
  2. Lose weight fast—clean your marketing database. If there were ever an incentive to improve accuracy and reduce excess pounds in your database, this is the year. And don’t forget about your email database, which can really pack on the pounds quickly.
  3. Reduce stress—get your brand’s assets organized. A study conducted a few years ago asserted that marketers spent approximately 30% of their time finding “stuff” — images, copy, documents, etc. There’s really no excuse with the wide range of asset management tools available.
  4. Reunite with old friends—spend more time with clients. We all know that the best source of new business is from existing customers, yet most companies continue to devote the largest share of marketing dollars to prospecting. This is the year to break bad habits.
  5. Quit smoking—smoke your competition instead. Nothing will get you further than developing true competitive differentiation. Commit to breaking free from “me too” products, services and marketing campaigns.
  6. Improve your finances—increase your marketing ROI. Justify your marketing expenditures with a measurable return on investment. Prove to your company’s executive management team that your marketing campaigns more than pay their own way.
  7. Help the environment—green your marketing program. Here’s the good news: You’ll likely save money in the process. Be sure to consider the entire marketing supply chain and make key vendors part of your environmental team.
  8. Serve others—develop a unique and timely product/service. There is opportunity in any market. Now is the time to show your ingenuity with a product or service that’s right for the times. Not launching anything new? Focus on showing how your products/services are clearly the best investment over the longer haul.
  9. Try something new—launch an innovative campaign. You need to break through the clutter more than ever, especially if you’re products/services fall into the discretionary spending category. Anyone can market through the good times when money is flowing, but next year presents an opportunity for you to separate yourself from the ordinary marketing folks.
  10. Save money—allocate your marketing budget more strategically. This approach is the opposite of being penny wise and pound foolish, which often happens during lean economic times. Spend more money where you can get the greatest return on your investment (like more dollars for a better booth space or page position) and cut the marginal stuff, even if it’s a personal favorite.

Looking for a Support Group?

Sticking to your marketing resolutions can be a tough, lonely road. MondoVox® Creative Group can provide all the strategic, tactical, creative and moral support you need to turn over a new marketing leaf. For more information, email Julia Moran Martz. Then relax, turn off the digital devices and enjoy a wonderful holiday season.

— by Larry Bauer

Should You Bother With Trade Shows at All?

bricobrac-250If you feel lukewarm about trade shows, then you’ll likely fail. Trade show success is about passion, preparation and commitment. Showing up isn’t enough. You need enthusiasm and know how to get the most from your investment.

Trade shows aren’t easy. But they do present a unique opportunity to gain face-to-face exposure with a target audience. That’s important considering how removed most marketers are from the actual buyer as we:

  • Depend on websites and email.
  • Make fewer onsite sales calls.
  • Outsource customer service to foreign countries.
  • Install automated call handling and other screens.
  • Migrate toward self-service.

Exhibiting provides a good reality check. People don’t stop if you have nothing to say. And a show provides a rare opportunity to get feedback that will help you improve your business. So if you’re feeling a little out of touch, trade shows are a great opportunity to connect with customers.

Have Realistic Expectations.

Most marketers would say their goal is to generate business from trade shows, and I would agree. But for many organizations, particularly those selling big-ticket items or anything with a long selling cycle, a trade show might be just one point in the sales process.

So I suggest that your number one goal should be to establish market presence. Buyers need to understand that you’re a serious player, and trade shows can help accomplish that. With so many market sub-segments and specialized services—to say nothing of mergers and acquisitions—targets are often less aware of your company than you think.

Forget Your Preconceived Notions.

Be professional, but don’t stereotype customers when planning events and promotions. For instance, a major printer of children’s books wanted to promote its enhanced color printing capabilities. The company created a promotional campaign that included custom illustrations of storybook characters and incorporated the illustrations into its trade show booth.

As an in-booth promotion, visitors could have their picture taken with a life-size replica of one of the illustrated characters, which happened to be a very friendly bear. Although book publishers aren’t usually described as wild and crazy, the booth had long lines of publishing execs waiting for their photo shoot.

So don’t hesitate to be a little creative or to provide some harmless fun. And if you can tie the promotions to your product offering like the printer did, so much the better.

Penny Wise and Pound Foolish.

Trade shows are expensive. You not only have the costs of a booth, exhibit fees, hotel rooms and transportation, but also the hidden expense of removing staff from the field. Rather than cutting every corner after making the initial investment, go the extra mile to deliver maximum ROI.

That doesn’t mean abandoning all budget concerns. It does mean making strategic spending decisions. For example, maybe it’s better to use a non-custom, pop-up style booth, which can be as much as 70% cheaper than custom built, and:

  • Take 20′ of space instead of 10′.
  • Purchase a premium location.
  • Stage a customer entertainment event.
  • Create an attention-demanding, in-booth promotion.

Success Is All In the Follow Through.

Unless you’re in a market where you write orders at the show, your results will be disappointing without a good follow-up program. That begins with having a good lead qualification system that encourages visitors to trade their information for yours. Note: Collecting cards in a fish bowl is not a lead qualification system.

Decide ahead of time how you’ll respond to leads. And don’t assign follow up to sales reps thinking your job is over. Sales reps are notorious for chasing hot leads and losing patience with longer-term prospects. The ideal approach is:

  • Rate the leads based on desirability and immediacy of need.
  • Deliver follow-up related to their value.
  • Nurture them until they’re ready for sales interaction.

Marketing might collaborate with sales on the follow-up program, but you’ll likely regret putting the task entirely in the hands of your company’s sales team.

Want Expert Advice?

MondoVox® Creative Group can help you develop a winning trade show strategy as well as deliver creative execution excellence. We can develop your lead qualification system, create your booth, prepare your literature, handle your pre-show promotion and expertly manage special events. For more information, email Julia Moran Martz. To see examples of our trade show work, visit our website.

— by Larry Bauer

Trade Show Do’s & Don’ts.

carnybarker-250Trade shows aren’t obligatory events like visiting your in-laws. Show up. Be polite. Try not to check your watch too many times. Nope, with trade shows, you need passion to make them work as well as a good plan and some skills. Here’s how to exceed expectations at your next trade show exhibition.

Do

  • Have goals for the show.
  • Get buy-in from management.
  • Develop a schedule and stick to it.
  • Research who will be attending—nothing saves the day if it’s the wrong show to begin with.
  • Appoint a booth captain—someone needs to be in charge.
  • Pay for better locations—draw an inverted triangle beginning at the entrance and set your priorities accordingly.
  • Watch out for columns, they are always bigger than shown on the floor plan.
  • Carefully choose who staffs the booth—just say no to aggressive reps.
  • Select your featured products and services wisely.
  • Consider renting a larger space—especially 20’ instead of 10’.
  • Build a custom and modular booth if you can afford it. If designed well, it can be broken down to smaller sizes for a wider variety of show options.
  • Train booth staff—then train them some more.
  • Develop a lead distribution and follow-up plan.
  • Create professional, compelling booth graphics.
  • Send a pre-show promotion—include customers and key prospects, not just show registrants.
  • Plan meetings with existing customers.
  • Offer something for which you would normally charge—survey, assessment, product trial, etc.
  • Stage PR events—new product announcements, media briefings, etc.
  • Bargain for an even better location next year—start now.

Don’t

  • Exhibit with a half-hearted approach—failure will be self-fulfilled.
  • Go in and out of shows based on the economy—if it’s a good show, you’ll benefit from consistent participation.
  • Think Rome was built in a day—the exposure you gain may not produce tangible benefits (sales) until long after the show.
  • Clutter your booth with excessive numbers of people or products.
  • Turn your exhibit into a phone booth—turn off the digital devices and concentrate on the people in front of you.
  • Eat lunch, read a book or sit down in your booth—you end up not looking engaged and ready.
  • Compete with major show-sponsored events—check schedules before booking customer parties, etc.
  • Dress ultra casually just because registrants do—be professional.
  • Neglect existing clients for prospects—the best source of new business is always current customers.
  • Assume that registrants don’t want to have fun—even if you’re in a “serious” business segment.
  • Underestimate the power of show networking.
  • Decide that everything you feature has to be the latest and greatest—lots of people new to an industry are just learning about the tried and true.
  • Forget to do a post-show analysis.
  • Hand out useless junk—make giveaways practical items that represent your business well.
  • Try to “capture” people who stop by your booth—it’s not a used car lot.
  • Underspend on the premise of saving money—you may be minimizing your returns by cutting the wrong corners.
  • Display your expensive literature near the front of your booth where folks can snatch and run—set it back further and allow staff to qualify the lead by using the literature as a tool.
  • Use the high school science fair look in your booth—a seamless image trumps a zillion little bits of paper velcroed to a fabric wall.

Less Is More. Doing the right shows exceptionally well is your goal. Volume doesn’t always translate into success. Avoid costly mistakes by attending a conference as a registrant before exhibiting. Participate in sessions, evaluate the level of attendees and walk the exhibit hall. Gauge the degree of involvement and ask exhibitors their opinions of the show. Set up a scoring system and compare it to your best conferences. If it’s a “go,” then pour your marketing heart and soul into making your exhibit a success.

— by Larry Bauer

Tips for Creating Effective Corporate Brochures.

The brand is everything today. Most marketers believe that nothing is more important to their organization’s success – let alone their personal careers – than protecting the brand. But just because marketers think it’s important doesn’t mean companies are doing it well.

A corporate brochure is a prime opportunity for brand positioning, so make sure you spend enough upfront time on the brand component. According to Branding Strategy Insider, success depends on having a clear, concise and consistent brand position.

Don’t minimize the importance of “clear and concise.” What makes a tagline so difficult is boiling down your organization’s personality into a few words. It’s the same with defining your brand. To be effective, everyone needs to easily understand your brand’s central values. Make some inquires around your company. Odds are you’ll get a wide range of descriptions, probably none of them right.

So be sure to ask your team these three questions:

  • What is our brand?
  • How does it behave?
  • What does it stand for?

If you’re comfortable with the answers, then you’re ready to proceed with a corporate brochure.

But Do You Really Need a Corporate Brochure?

Some marketers today think corporate brochures are a waste of time and money. Online is where everything is happening, they reason, so put your money there. But that’s shortsighted.

The Web has its place, but it is only one option, and not always the preferred choice. Portability is still a huge benefit to many information recipients, and print is a welcome relief from having to stare at a computer screen.

Brochures also carry higher credibility. Virtually any business can get on the Web today, but not every company has the resources to produce an effective corporate brochure.

Don’t underestimate the value of shelf life, either. Buyers don’t usually make instant decisions, especially for high-ticket products and services. They are more likely to keep a brochure they requested than bookmark your website.

Finally, the lessons of progressive marketing are choice and multi-channel integration. We know that as soon as you start choosing the medium for your customers, you’re in trouble. They make the choices, not you.

Study after study also demonstrates that well-integrated, multi-channel campaigns work better than any medium alone. So think through how your corporate brochure will integrate with a larger communications strategy having both print and online touchpoints.

Want Expert Advice?

MondoVox can help you develop a corporate brochure that achieves your organization’s communication goals. We can help clarify your branding and provide creative execution that distinguishes your corporate brochure from the competition. For more information, email Julia Moran Martz. To see examples of our corporate brochure work, visit our website.

— by Larry Bauer

A Dozen Do’s. A Dozen Don’ts.

Start collecting corporate brochures. Most of them will come in handy when you can’t sleep at night. Here are two-dozen tips for making your brochure reader-friendly, inspiring and persuasive.

Do

  • Have an objective for the brochure.
  • Develop a creative brief – use it for buy-in as well as a roadmap.
  • Integrate your brochure within a larger communications strategy.
  • Demonstrate that you understand your audience.
  • Consider versioning for major markets – a brochure can’t be everything to everyone.
  • Position, position, position.
  • Talk about markets, products, services and solutions – show them in use whenever possible.
  • Be conversational – you’re building a relationship.
  • Say something specific – a 99% customer satisfaction rating means more than a corporate commitment to customer service.
  • Develop good captions – one of the most read and recalled copy elements.
  • Include contact information on the brochure – ditto for everything that accompanies it.
  • Hire a professional proofreader – they’re cheap and can save your butt.

Don’t

  • Assume that no one reads today – people don’t read lousy copy.
  • Use corporate-speak, jargon and over-used phrases.
  • Make third-person references to your company – this isn’t a term paper, be personal.
  • Write in the passive voice or use other complicated verb tenses (hint: helping verbs + past tense of action verb).
  • Bore readers with technical content – use charts, graphs and diagrams.
  • Assume readers will automatically turn the page – you have to earn their interest at every point in the brochure.
  • Overlook the cover as your first opportunity to creatively position your organization.
  • Write or design by committee – they’ll suck the life out of the brochure.
  • End with a table of contents or corporate overview – there are better uses for your closing page, like suggesting an action step.
  • Try to speak to everyone – focus on your key targets.
  • Use creative sources that know nothing about your market – you’ll spend all your time getting them up to speed.
  • Fail to develop a distribution plan – not everyone who makes an inquiry is a qualified candidate.

One final bit of advice. Develop a schedule and stick to it. Corporate brochures have a tendency to become never-ending projects. If you thought the brochure was important enough to do in the first place, then it’s important enough to do on time.

Talk to Your Printer. Have your designer bring the printer into the mix early. They’re part of your creative team, and a good rep can help with special techniques, provide paper dummies, ink draw downs, make the brochure more eco-sensitive and keep you from creating a piece that looks great on-screen but won’t print well.

— by Larry Bauer

Integrating Social Media.

Social media reminds us of soccer in America about 25-years ago. Youth leagues across the county were playing the game. It was inexpensive, fun, good exercise and even the youngest players could handle the fundamental skills of running and kicking a ball. Soccer was a grassroots, community-based movement that flew under the radar for a time while attracting millions of participants.

Social Media is a grassroots movement with many of the same characteristics. Its draw is the ability to share personal human stories on a grand scale. Participants relate their own experiences to others of like interests. These conversations can and do encompass product/service experiences and recommendations allowing for powerful viral marketing and sales referrals.

For instance, while YouTube is a seemingly infinite source of goofy ephemera, users also find a plethora of product demonstrations posted by actual product users. These how-to videos often use name brand products. Podcasts also provide opinions, interviews and commentary on many topics including products, services, technologies and trends. Social media tools offer a way to participate in dialog outside your own back yard. Let’s start by looking specifically at one tool that’s been around the longest: blogs. We’ll discuss other important tools, like social networks, in subsequent issues of MondoBeat.

Blogs in General.

Blog is short for weblog, or websites that use a dated log format with the most recent entry listed at the top. Most provide alternative views on a variety of subjects, and the top bloggers challenge traditional offline media counterparts for both readership and advertising.

As recently as 1999 only 23 blogs existed. Today’s worldwide blogosphere is more than 75 million, though some authorities believe the number of active blogs is more in the 2-4 million range. Forester Research says that approximately 25% of adult Americans read a blog every month. If you consider that these are early adopters who provide referrals and commentary for the next wave called the early majority, then blog participants represent a key target demographic.

The proliferation of free weblog-creation software helped blogs gain their immense popularity. Originally link driven, the new blog software made longer text entries possible. While many blogs remain primarily textual, there are also blogs devoted to:

  • Videos (vlog)
  • Photos (photolog)
  • Portfolios of sketches (sketchlog)
  • Links (linklog)
  • Brief posts and mixed media (tumblelog)

Corporate Blogs.

These can be used internally to enhance the communications and culture within an organization or externally to help achieve branding, marketing or public relations
objectives. Many organizations keep a blog on their website. These blogs usually contain content appealing to the demographic that the organization seeks.

The content may primarily relate to the activities of the organization, or it may have very little to do with the organization itself. Frequently, a blog will focus on the kinds of content likely to attract the desired web surfers, even if that content is not related to the product or service that the company provides.

More often, though, the content is at least a mix of subjects with business-related posts carrying the heavy load. For example, Mike Critelli, executive chairman of mailing solutions provider Pitney Bowes, covers a wide range of topics in his “Open Mike” blog.

Most topics do relate to his business with commentary on subjects like “Environmental Impact of Mail,” but a few are more personal in nature and reveal a bit of the chairman to his audience. In Critelli’s words, “In spite of my obvious passion for the mailstream and the industry I have been a part of, I will comment on a broad range of subjects, including some of those I have called out in my biography.” How you structure your blog, as well as who does the writing, really depends on your objective.

How you structure your blog, as well as who does the writing, really depends on your objective. For instance:

  • A manufacturer of women’s upscale fashion might create a blog that addresses subjects ranging from the latest trends to how to better serve high-end shoppers at the retail level. The blog might include a video link to a fashion show, an interview with a leading designer and discussions about the economic outlook in fashion retailing. In a down market, a blog like this could be sensitive to consumers needs by offering timely ideas for stretching their clothing budget with a few good pieces or dressing for job interviews.
  • A charity organization’s blog might include a commentary on recent success stories, an inspirational video interview with someone helped by the organization and discussions about upcoming fundraisers.

Blog-site Advertising.

If you don’t want to start your own blog but would like to reach the targeted audiences of other blogs, you can use MondoVox to handle ad placement. We try to match marketers with independent blog owners and their highly valued audiences. But keep in mind that a desire to advertise doesn’t automatically mean you will be accepted. Many of the best niche-community blogs are not owned by corporations and are more likely to pick and choose whom they will associate with their blog.

Relevance is critical, and blog owners often engage with marketers to share thoughts about what might work best for their readers and communities. That’s because authors generally require approval of every campaign in advance, which also helps deliver a valuable endorsement about your product or service from the blog’s leadership.

How to Get Started.

A good way to begin is by subscribing to other blogs in your market category. Technorati and Google Blog Search are among the leaders in blog search. Technorati can list search results either by authority or by date. Authority is important to consider in evaluating a blog, because the higher the authority—translate “popularity”—the more impact the posts and comments will have. Once you identify the blogs you want to track, “really simple syndication” (RSS) makes subscribing easy.

What if Your Social Media Skills Aren’t so Terrific?

MondoVox can help you develop and implement a social media strategy. We can identify high potential opportunities, set up blogs, create videos, craft offers, develop landing pages and provide metrics. For more information, email Julia Moran Martz.

— by Larry Bauer

Social Media Pros & Cons.

Social media is a vast experiential toolbox containing communication, collaboration and multimedia tools for sharing user-generated content. Here are some of the pluses and minuses of social media tools in general.

Pros

  • Opportunity to show your human side—that you’re more than a business.
  • Demonstrates a willingness to be open with customers.
  • Potentially fertile new marketing ground with still limited competition.
  • Participants tend to be early adopters—more likely to interact with vendors and offer feedback to improve your products and services.
  • Presence builds loyalty among early adopters—often rewarded with referrals and leads—high potential of viral marketing.
  • Ultimate relationship-building opportunity.
  • Can help your executive team gain a better customer perspective—particularly those normally without direct customer contact.
  • Can help you monitor complaints that don’t make it to or through the service desk.
  • Good vehicles for increasing brand awareness and driving website traffic.
  • Presents opportunities to learn about problems early and correct them.
  • Can improve your reputation as an authority—opportunity to promote and spread ideas.
  • Effective for building relationships with targeted audiences.
  • Versatile—can be used to build both internal and external communities.
  • Search engines love social media such as blogs, because the engines have a passion for frequently updated text and links.
  • Offers a variety of tools that can be used to provide interactive training for your products and services.
  • No specialized technical skills required.
  • Relatively low capital costsi.e., you can set up a blog virtually for free.

Cons

  • Can be time intensive—demands frequent content updates and at least daily monitoring of comments.
  • ROI is not immediate and direct—you’re building relationships, so get used to measuring traffic, page views, links and comments as well as intangibles like community “buzz” and conversations.
  • Relevance is everything—better have something interesting to say.
  • Risk of your organization sounding like it has multiple tones and positions.
  • Risk of non-communications people doing the communicating.
  • Discomfort of not completely controlling the brand message.
  • Plenty of excellent content still gets overlooked.
  • Potential for developing the “wrong crowd” of friends.
  • Can work against you as well as for you.
  • Still difficult to reach mass audiences—these are more 1to1 technologies.
  • Lots of unknowns.

And the Winner Is…

YOU. Technology tools are expanding each day, and that’s good news for your company. There’s no reason to hop on all of the social media bandwagons, but it’s worth your time to consider the benefits of each alternative in helping you achieve your organization’s marketing goals. Likewise, it’s important to understand how your customers are using social media.

One thing we know for sure is that the marketing landscape is changing rapidly. Smart printing companies don’t get caught on their heels while the market sprints ahead. Sometimes you never really catch up. So our recommendation is to get off the blocks when it comes to social media. Remember, websites were once an unproven tool.

Social Media Tip: If you worry about how much time incorporating social media tools might take from other activities, investigate software tools such as Firefox extension RescueTime, which tracks the time you spend at different sites. Use the data to determine how much time you will spend at each community based on interest and benefits received.

— by Larry Bauer

Public Relations vs. Advertising.


Where to spend your money? That’s always a tough question, but even more so in a down economy when budgets are tight and every dollar counts. So let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of PR and Advertising to help you make the best budget allocations for your organization:

Public Relations

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Third-party endorsement carries high value in today’s cynical marketplace
  • Many smaller trade publications and local newspapers need to fill space inexpensively with news releases and vendor bylined articles
  • Ditto for conferences looking for session leaders, panel members and secondary speakers
  • Opportunities to become an industry thought leader

Cons

  • Requires good media relationships to function at the highest level
  • Little or no control over the final message
  • Limited shelf life—usually a one-time appearance
  • Unpredictable exposure—no control over frequency or amount of coverage
  • Limited metrics

Advertising

Pros

  • Control over message and creative
  • Ability to determine timing and frequency
  • Generally has longer shelf life
  • Better metrics to measure marketing ROI

Cons

  • Expensive—consumes your budget faster
  • Exposure proportional to your expenditure
  • Consumers know they’re reading a paid sales message
  • Lacks authenticity that comes from third-party endorsement

And the Winner Is…

It really depends on the size of your budget. In an ideal marketing world (let us know if you find one), you would have an appropriate blend of public relations and advertising to maximize your overall strategy.

Your decisions would be based more on the type of business you have and your marketing objectives. For example:

  • An accounting and management-consulting firm might weight its budget more toward public relations because of the value that indirect, third-party endorsements bring to a professional services organization.
  • A large national retail chain might have a heavier advertising budget to generate store traffic while allocating smaller PR budgets to individual stores for community relations building.

But your situation is different if you are a smaller organization that doesn’t have the budget luxury of creating an optimum plan. For you, PR is likely the better approach for direct and personal communications with your target prospects.

What is clear is that you need to actively promote your company on a consistent basis. Down economies make the task more challenging, but companies that market in good times and bad enjoy more success over the long haul. You remain visible to your audience and send a message of reliability, to say nothing of promoting your brand when others aren’t.

— by Larry Bauer

Mastering PR Basics.

Building a basic public relations program requires as much perspiration as inspiration. You must have a commitment to doing PR activities consistently and in a professional manner that will create demand for your news and subject matter expertise. The better you understand the rules, the better you’ll be able to play the game.

Here’s what you need to gain more exposure:

  • Learn how to develop a media list. There’s nothing more important than this database, so you have to spend some time getting the appropriate contacts and keeping the list updated. Determine the right local, regional, national and international media (newspapers, magazines, newsletters, blogs, radio and TV stations) contacts for your organization. Most of the information you need is readily accessible.
  • Learn how to develop relationships. Commit time to getting to know your media contacts. If possible, arrange a media tour, which is a series of individual meetings or a single event to promote your organization, product, or service to members of the media. For example, you might arrange meetings with the local newspaper business editors, or travel to see key members of the trade publications that cover your segment. Another approach is to invite members of the trade media attending a trade conference to a briefing. This works especially well if you have a newsworthy product or service to introduce.
  • Learn how to create a press kit. Regardless of your approach, make sure you prepare and have something to say. One of your goals is to establish your organization as a thought leader worthy of being quoted in an article—or perhaps even authoring the article—so be sure to look the part. That means having a press kit (See “How to Create a Winning Press Kit” in this issue), presentation materials and either an internal or external representative trained in interfacing with the press.
  • Learn how to write a news release. The better you do this, the more likely you are to receive free publicity. Not only do professionally written and presented news releases make you appear more credible, but increasingly understaffed media outlets also value copy that provides a solid foundation for an article without heavy rewrites. When you’re composing a news release, focus on the “news” element while emphasizing the basics of who, what, when, where and why. News releases with a good, crisp, relevant photo also tend to get more play. Digital cameras and the fact that most news releases are now submitted via email make the entire process easier and less expensive than ever.
  • Learn what’s newsworthy. There is likely more news in your organization than you think. A good practice is to form an internal “news team” that identifies newsworthy developments. You should set a goal of issuing at least one news release per month. Here are some items you should consider newsworthy:
    • New staff additions or promotions at the manager level and above
    • Capital investments in facilities, equipment and systems
    • Major new contracts or customer acquisitions
    • Company milestones—significant company and product anniversaries (AARP Turns 50, etc.)
    • New products, technologies or services
    • Significant customer benefits delivered in cost savings, time-to-market or quality improvement
    • Awards and honors—remember you usually have to enter to win
    • New corporate initiatives—sustainability, internships, etc.
    • Community relations—sponsorships, major contributions, scholarships, employee service programs, etc.

And remember this important takeaway: PR is for your customers too. Be sure to mail or email your news releases to your clients as well as the press. There’s no better way to continually let your customers know that you have an exciting, growing business and remind them of why they chose you in the first place.

What if You Don’t Have the Internal Resources?

MondoVox helps companies of all sizes with their PR programs. We can perform key services from developing a media contact database to writing your news releases and creating an effective press kit. Most importantly, we can help you develop a winning PR strategy that fits your budget and business requirements. For more information, email Julia Moran Martz.

— by Larry Bauer

Getting Top of Mind.

Do you ever feel like your clients are having parties and you’re not invited? That’s exactly what happens to many companies when it comes to staying top of mind. They are simply not part of their customer’s “in” crowd.

Too often companies remain outside the circle of influence because of an inability to establish personal customer relationships. It’s easy to fade into the background after the sale, missing opportunities to cross-sell, up-sell and generally deepen the relationship.

Think you have nothing to say? Customers actually do care about issues like:

  • Marketplace trends that impact their lives or businesses
  • Pertinent new product developments
  • Products that enhance the performance of what they purchased from you
  • News of how other customers are using your products
  • Your company initiatives from sustainability to community involvement
  • Loyalty discounts and offers

So How Could a Newsletter Improve My Social Life?

The truth is a newsletter won’t help much if the entire focus is on you. If you want the cool rich kids (translation: leading customers) to notice you there has to be some credibility established.

A well-positioned newsletter can help make the case that your knowledge extends beyond the manufacturing of your product to an understanding of your customer’s desires and challenges. And if you are in a business-to-business environment, you can send the newsletter to C-level execs who set strategy and influence decisions but are not part of your everyday contact base. Consumer marketers can benefit from pass-along circulation and offers to sign up friends with similar interests.

How Do I Communicate the Product Message?

The best way to promote the value of your product is by providing content that lures customers while still weaving in the product message. For example, a feature article about asthma sufferers who successfully compete in endurance events might be appealing for a pharmaceutical company.

A secondary article by a member of the company’s physician team might talk about how asthma patients can participate more safely in athletic endeavors by following a certain preparation regimen. Then the copy introduces the effectiveness of the company’s asthma drug.

Who Will Write the Articles?

The obvious answer is to go outside if you don’t have the inside expertise. Check with your media contacts for good freelance writers. Or contact Larry Bauer and the Mondovox® Creative Group. We write and design award-winning newsletters as well as provide support services ranging from managing your marketing database to electronic distribution and real-time results tracking.

Regardless of your approach, the takeaway is that you need to build credibility by demonstrating knowledge of the issues impacting your customers. Then you have a chance of making your customer’s “A” list of companies with which they prefer to do business. Newsletters can provide the vehicle.

— by Larry Bauer