Every small business wants to be a PR darling – see its name in lights, above the title on the marquee, trending on Twitter, at the top of everyone’s Instagram feed.
It’s a tough place to be. ‘Everyone’ is a ton of competition. A lot of flashing lights, a cacophony of sounds, and an exhaustive amount of jumping around waving your arms.
But isn’t it better to be seen by your customer instead?
‘Everyone’ is not your customer
In marketing, the idea of ‘everyone’ is not an okay answer when identifying your target customer. Even big chains like Wal-Mart, Target, McDonald’s, Pep Boys, and so on, don’t consider ‘everyone’ their target market. They spend significant money determining who is best suited to buy their merchandise. Those people are targeted, pun intended, with laser precision.
Everyone is not your target market either. There are better ways to spend your money and earn a higher return on your investment. The idea of widespread PR coverage seems solid. The more people you reach, the more conversions you should make, right?
In reality, the conversion ratio is just too low for smaller businesses to spend money on this approach. You’ll spend tons of time and piles of money reaching a large number of people who will never fulfill the holy grail of communications: entering the ‘top of funnel’ journey towards conversion, which is a fancy, public relations way of saying ‘building awareness that starts a prospect on the road to action.’
Don’t get me wrong. Prestige coverage is great. Brand building and the dazzle factor are nothing to be sneezed at.
Embrace the workhorse – industry publications
However, if conversions and paying customers are the goal of your marketing journey, I’d direct your attention away from the sparkly “rock star” of big-name, high-wattage media coverage to the unassuming workhorse of the marketing communications world: the industry publication.
If you sell widgets, Widget Weekly is already delivering regular content to prime candidates for your product. If your restaurant is serving gourmet noodles, Macaroni Monthly will communicate your uniqueness to people who are looking for the perfect penne.
Steak, not sizzle
Do a little research. There is an industry magazine – print or otherwise – out there for just about every conceivable marketplace. They may have a smaller readership. They may lack the dazzle of the New York Times or the consumer-focused Oprah’s O, but the opportunity to engage with your prospective customers is worth the focus. Remember, it’s the steak, not the sizzle that satisfies your target market appetite.
The industry magazine is where your market lives. If you’re in fintech, Bank Systems & Technology and FinTech Magazine are very likely in the inbox of every decision-maker at every financial institution on your marketing team’s dream date list.
If you want to reach the mom and pop grocer so you can earn shelf space and sales for your latest organic meal-to-go, Food Business News is going to be read by people intent on learning the latest about the foodservice industry.
What could you do with a focused customer looking to consume information about your industry?
An ode to hard-working trade publications
The industry publication may be less glamorous, and it’s not a walk in the park to secure coverage. Like all things, you need to earn your place in the spotlight. The results, however, are typically deeper, wider, and more saturated among people who have a connection to – or use for – your product, your service, or your business.
Public Relations: Five points for market success
In my marketing and public relations experience, there are five key points for successfully leveraging coverage in an industry publication and harnessing the workhorse for your benefit.
- Know your audience. Take the time to identify who consumes the publication. Are readers upstream or downstream from your process? Where are they in their organization? How can you help them solve their problems?
- Educate, don’t pontificate. Show – don’t tell – the readers how your expertise or your product provides an effective solution. Keep the focus on their problem and avoid bragging.
- Provide resources, links, and citations. Stating your opinion is easy. Backing it up with facts requires a little more work. Cite your sources and make it easy for others to follow up.
- Be real world. Case studies rule. Breaking down complex issues and solutions into easily digestible parts and pieces can help cement your message in your customer’s minds.
- Be colorful, energetic, or unique. Industry readers are human and respond as such. Find your own voice and use it to stand out in the crowd.
Cheers to your success
Pulling a cue from the Boston-based bar of TV fame, Cheers, company leadership may be enamored of the idea of coverage in the large glossies so everyone knows your name. The glossies have their time, place, use, and prestige, but industry publications will target your message to the people who are most likely to take action on your ideas, your product, and your service. Live up to their expectations and I predict you’ll have something to cheer about.
An award-winning public relations author, speaker, agency owner, and mentor focused on thought leadership and entrepreneurial success, Pam Abrahamsson is the CEO and founder of PRA Public Relations, a Top 15 PR agency serving the technology and entrepreneurial marketplace through thought leadership strategies.
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