Sometimes You Get What You Pay For…Or You Can Triple It – For Free?
Literally, hundreds of millions of dollars in sales are generated mostly by the “stealth” marketing tactics of publicity. And did I mention it’s free? That’s right. No charge. None. You can’t buy it. Think about that. Hundreds of millions of dollars in sales generated for FREE!
Publicity can’t replace direct-response advertising as a way to generate leads. But it can certainly increase your company’s name recognition, image and brand, and serve as powerful reinforcements to your customers.
Publicity sells. Publicity boosts image and is deemed “real.” It gets through the skeptical filter of paid advertising and is regarded to be 3 times as valuable in credibility alone.
Finally, let me point out that publicity is not – as many of you have expressed – accidental, lucky or coincidental. Hear me on this: It is as engineered as a flame chamber, and about twice as hot. Plus this final tidbit:
You do not pay for it. I don’t sell it. No one does. It can’t be bought, even with John Edward’s money. There are a number of ways to get the media looking at you though. Consider these recent examples and look for the “common” element…
- There’s the West Virginia HVAC contractor who “planted” a particular phrase in his Classified Ad for an employee that got him in the newspaper, then on the city’s most popular radio talk show, which resulted in a landslide of applicants. One tiny paid ad got him the equivalent of pages of media. Mission accomplished.
- There’s the Michigan HVAC contractor who sent out a few media releases responding to contractor scams. He got a couple of those published, which landed him on radio, then on television… twice a week. Zero cost resulted in $181,000 of media and #1 Top of Mind.
- The California HVAC contractor who found a unique angle in a Government-backed energy program. Though all his competitors were running the “normal” ads, he got tons of publicity and sales as a result.
For the reasons of sheer persuasion power at a price point that’s hard to beat, engineering publicity has been a coveted, protected secret, hoarded largely “inside” the media halls, or crafted by those who’ve jumped ship. I feel, fortunately, we’ve been able to gain access to these circles, and I must say I’m impressed with the strategies and the results.
- Credibility. If the media writes an article about you or your contracting business, it boosts your image.
- Differentiation. There are dozens of contractor choices in your town. How many are positively featured in the news? What impact would that have if YOU were? Last question: How many contractors can earn this spot? Right again. ONE, and if it’s not you, it’s going to be someone.
- Expertise. Get quoted about energy savings, water heaters, insulation and carbon monoxide as an authority, and guess what? You are. I like the word “anoint” because that is what the media is doing to your reputation.
- TOMA recognition. No one knows when you’ll be needed, right? But we DO know that you won’t be called if you’re unknown. Therefore, increased presence is an increase in Top of Mind Awareness, period.
- Customer Confidence. Customers feel good when “their” contractor is in the news. Like when a movie or book you liked gets a positive review, or a restaurant you enjoy gets a “Best of,” same thing here. People want reassurance of their choices. What better way (without blowing your own horn) than for them to see you mentioned in the media? It reaffirms that they really DO have an expert attending to their HVAC needs.
- Coworker Confidence. Everyone wants to be part of the “winners.” Media attention reminds YOUR employees they’re on this team. If the media coverage includes them, so much the better. They get a chance to strut their knowledge and expertise, and your company gets to bask in the limelight as the employer. And as you’d imagine, those “other” company employees see the same thing, and the best ones gravitate to be on the winning team too.
When industry-related news is in the air, make sure you’re who reporters think of when they need a comment. If the story is about rising energy costs, for instance, you can offer simple steps for keeping your house energy-efficient. If the story is about scam artists, you can offer important insight into finding a reliable contractor. These are both very hot topics, every single year.
The resounding truth about Publicity and Media Releases is that you cannot “promote” your company flagrantly. Let this be done by your mere presence. In other words, let the fact you’re being interviewed or quoted be enough. The biggest failure with media releases is that if it even sounds like an ad for your company, they’re going to put an ad rep on the phone with you.
Excuse Me, What Did You Say?
Another publicity approach is to extend your expertise to the classroom. Four ways to focus this: 1) To the public (through colleges or continuing education classes), 2) The local technical school (hopefully attracting top talent in the process), 3) Home Shows inviting the public and the media to attend an informative session and 4) Open Houses for the same reasons as above and well, to show off.
These could be a workshop or demonstration on a “home improvement” or “do-it-yourself” topic such as “Selecting Energy Efficient Appliances” or “How to Save 31% or More on Your Energy Bill.” One helpful idea to get an idea of response is to ask people to pre-register – even though you can still accept walk-ins.
An Open House will let prospects and media see day-to-day operations and reinforce your service mission. It’s also a good idea to give them something they can take home with them – a paperweight or refrigerator magnet, discount coupon or whatever. Just remember, it’s not a time for selling – it’s a time for welcoming. Once they feel welcome, buying follows.
Making your name in the news will also improve your ad results. You get the additional “bounce” of being known, and that aids your ad results. Look at all the celebrity endorsements, famous newsmakers in business and celebrity status among business leaders.
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