There’s No Such Thing As Overnight Fame

Journalists get so many stories in their inbox. Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame…and they want their friendly neighbourhood journalist to give it to them.

After all, a story in the media is the ultimate in third party credibility. You’ve got serious street cred when your story appears in a well-known newspaper or magazine, or you are interviewed on a radio program.

And as much as people bag the media … when you are in business, and looking for free publicity, a journalist is your new BFF.

With these new-fangled dooba hickies called the internet and social media, stories are there for the taking. Look at how many Tweets are used as the basis of a story.

If you are working with a public relations agency, know they are not miracle workers… a modern day magician who could wield control over the media and make them do what they’re told.

PR can make you famous overnight….quite often for all the wrong reasons. But do not expect the media to fall at your feet after ONE media release.

Building credibility and a brand is not going to happen overnight. It will happen … but not overnight.

Like ANYTHING in life and business … true success, real sticky results TAKES TIME!  You have to have a plan (a good marketing plan as your foundations is a great start), patience, a mindset that understands delayed gratification and the value that comes from building relationships and a robust content plan.

Think about when you met your partner. Like most couples, there was an immediate attraction. You liked each other.  Thought the other person had something to offer that would bring benefit to your life. So you dated. Got to know each other. Spent time with each other. Then you took it further.

Getting free publicity, building a brand, becoming famous is so not different to starting a romantic relationship or friendship. It takes time to build something of value.

A house does not go up overnight – it starts with foundations and then each layer is added until a number of weeks/months down the track, you have a solid structure.  Even then, it is still not done; fittings are added, carpet, lights, air con … and then the furniture comes in. Have I said it takes time?

You may get a win or two in the media to start with but expecting astronomical results straight off the bat is unrealistic.

If you truly want your marketing and PR to work – STICK WITH IT.  If you engage a marketing or PR professional to help you, understand they are not a miracle worker, they do not own the media, they cannot guarantee the media will take your story (stop asking, there are no guarantees in life) and they will work to a strategy that will bring results over time.

Here are a few thoughts to manage your expectations around using marketing and PR:

  1. Create a plan and stick to it.  When the going gets tough, go back to your plan, reassess and revise but keep moving forward. Test and measure your results; what doesn’t work, drop, what does, keep doing it. But one month, two months, even three months is not enough time to judge results.
  2. There is such thing as an overnight success or luck.  Read Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point and Outliers, he has some great insights into this. It takes time to become ‘well known’. Ask anyone who is an overnight success how long it took them to achieve their goals – it took hard work, patience and persistence.
  3. There is no magic stick. PR is not going to save your business, it is not going to suddenly have millions knocking your door down for your product and service.  Marketing and PR is all about relationships – building them with your prospective customers (be helpful) and with journalists (be helpful and available – you may not always get a story run but keep in touch)
  4. Foundations are vital. All good things start with solid foundations – systems and processes in place, marketing plan locked in, etc – and then you are ready to start building up and out.
  5. Success is an inside job. You can have all the above in place but if your mindset is off, all the success in the world means nothing. If you do not understand or accept the trials and tribulations of being in business, you’ll be easily discouraged, give up too soon and blame others. Invest in personal development, read books, get a mentor, go to workshops and seminars, and build resilience. Be in it for the long haul because if you do, then you will see great results.

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Three Ms for Mapping Your Small Business Path

When asked ‘who has a plan – a marketing plan or a business plan?’, you can hear the crickets. So many small businesses have no plan in place.

Some small businesses know exactly who they are and where they are going but the vast majority, while having the best products and service, are stuck in practitioner mode.

Focused on the day-to-day, with no plan or strategies in place, marketing not a priority and often left wondering where the next customer or client will come from. They are brilliant at what they do but trying to do it all alone and without a plan.

When asked ‘who has a plan – a marketing plan or a business plan?’, you can hear the crickets. So many small businesses have no plan in place.

It does make it more challenging to get where you want to be without a plan. It is like getting in a car to go to Melbourne, without looking at a map and keeping your fingers crossed hoping you are heading in the right direction just be relying on your best guess.

Business success, starts and ends, with having a plan. A map that lays out your direction, the tools you need to get there and the people you need to help you achieve your goals. Relying on your natural talents is not enough.

But … before you even get started creating a PR/marketing plan, it is good idea to get your foundations locked in … so when you have finished your plan, you have mapped out EXACTLY where you are going and how you are going to get there.

DETERMINE YOUR MESSAGE, MARKET AND MEDIA

Do your research

Will help you anticipate needs and changes. You can’t plan for everything but you can have strategies and initiatives in place to point you in the right direction. Conduct surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews to get a good idea of what your current customers/ clients like about you, why they do business with you etc. Survey Monkey is a good resource. Also look at your competitors – what are they are doing well, what do their customers say about them?

Know your target audience

Get to know the people and groups you want to hear your message; this also includes who you want to target in the media.

Know what you want to say

Once you know who your audience is, you can then work on your key messages – what is you want them to know about you.

Know other stakeholders

Who else would be interested in what you are doing? If you have employees, shareholders, JV partners etc they will need to understand and know what you are doing. Most importantly, you will need their support.

TIP – Don’t forget to share your PR successes with them.

Know the market

Make sure you check out other companies especially your competitors. Find out where other opportunities are. By exploring the market, you will also uncover other platforms for your products or services, other ways to craft your message and new markets.

Avoid overwhelm

Know what you can do and can’t do. To do this, have a good grasp on your time, budget and who does what. If it is within your budget, hire a PR professional because sometimes you can’t do everything!

Timeline

A visual guide to help you define where and when you are going to implement certain strategies in your plan. Take into account media deadlines and other important events.

Take action

Once your plan is in place, it is time to implement it. Because you have taken the time to plan your PR campaign’s roll out, you can allocate time to action the items in the plan. Continue to monitor your plan – it is not a bookshelf decoration; it is a living document that is meant to be used.

Selling Innovation – The Spark II

This is part of an ongoing series based on the highly rated book Selling Innovation, a guide to structuring a complete start-up revenue capture process.  The book is based on a day-long workshop held at the MIT Enterprise Forum in partnership with Microsoft.  Sections of each chapter will be shared here on The Startup Growth Blog.  Download the complete eBook, blog readers get a special 25% discount with code JA49Y.  

Disruptive vs Incremental Innovation

Truly disruptive innovations do not occur often.  For among other reasons, there are only so many adopters in any given market willing to continually try radically new products and services.  Disruptive Innovations can only target the much smaller early adopter segment of the population, and it requires its users to accommodate the new information or way of doing things into their daily lives.  But while re-shaping the dynamics of a marketplace may seem attractive, many a fortune has been built on incremental innovation.

Incremental innovation is an add-on, value-adder, or after-market creation that has clear application as part of an existing innovation or platform.  It is often easier to sell because adopters need only assimilate a marginally new framework of thinking or doing to find value from the innovation.

There is another key aspect to ‘disruptive innovation’ that all innovators need to keep in mind when the spark of innovation is forming in your mind.  While an innovation may be disruptive to a particular market or industry, the term disruptive is not a value proposition to most people’s ears.  Never before has a user thought their life is too easy and what they really need is to have their safe, familiar patterns of behavior disrupted.

Remember your elementary school days when one kid in the class got sent to the principal’s office because s/he was being ‘disruptive’?  Disruptive is not always good.  In the example from Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen’s the Innovator’s Dilemma, the mini-mills in the steel industry generated great wealth and opportunity for those people who had a vested interest in them.  But there were thousands who worked and gained from traditional mills who were thrown out of job, lost value in their stock portfolio, or otherwise did not benefit from the disruption in the marketplace.  This is not to say that it should not have happened or that innovation is a bad thing.  Rather, especially when selling an innovation into a mature market place, what you are selling may threaten someone else’s job, a way of doing business, or even an entire company.  Resistance to buying may have little or nothing to do with your innovation.

Disruptive innovations are also often first to market, but first-mover status seldom translates into sustained sales advantage.  Few first movers have been able to capture and sustain market share, even ones that were able to scale.  Google was not the first search engine.  Facebook was not the first social networking site.  The iPod was not the first hand-held audio player.  Each evolved from prior iterations of a comparable, but perhaps less sophisticated or less well sold, innovation.

Innovation goes in waves.  As markets mature and successful sellers establish dominant position there are myriad opportunities for disruption – a better way of doing business, a faster tool, a bigger device.  These moments used to occur only every decade or two.  Over the past few decades the cycle has shortened to five or seven years.  And technology now allows innovators to bring solutions to market faster, cheaper, and to a larger audience than ever before.  But if the goal is to become a successful innovator and not a clever inventor, it may be best to wait until the market has told the innovation community exactly which disruptions its willing to live with, much less buy.

As the waves of disruption evolve, innovators can monitor prior efforts to see how certain products with definable features were adopted by customers, and make refinements to better address a now clearer market need.  Eventually, an innovation is layered on top of an existing way of doing business, and integration points emerge among once disparate innovations, which enable new ways of doing things that were once not possible.  Social networks, for example, were once an innovation separate from smart phones, and innovations in each market attracted interest from early adopters and venture capital.  Now, more pictures are taken using the iPhone and posted to Facebook than using any other photographic device.

Scale is also reached at this point of convergence creating larger commercial opportunities.  Incremental innovation becomes easier to identify, quantify, and sell because data exists and can be analyzed to determine the most cost effective path to market, ideal delivery mechanisms, customer service requirements, feature sets, and even price.  Remember, innovation is not invention, and as the old saying goes, ‘pioneers die with arrows in their backs, farmers die rich’.   Being a ‘fast follower’ rather than a disruptor may not be seen as exciting, but it’s a much more reliable path to success paved by giants of commerce.

Is it innovative to be a fast-follower?  Ask Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Mark Zuckerberg.  Can incremental innovation lead to success?  Consider Dell or Tesla Motors, were they the first with their innovation?

  • Before you launch or pitch your innovation ask who might be upset or disrupted by your innovation?
  • Download the complete Selling Innovation eBook, blog readers get a special 25% discount with code JA49Y.  
  • Or buy the Print Edition on Amazon

Marketing Tips for Launching a New Product

Do you want to launch a new product or service in the market? Launching the product is next step after you have decided what you want to offer as your product or services. Product launch is a crucial step as the sales and growth of the product is dependent on a good and well-hyped product launch.

Take an example of the leading tech brand Apple. Do you know that they sold 300,000 WiFi units on the launch day? Within 3 days, 1.7 million iPhone 4 units were sold. Clearly, they knew how to launch a product for maximum sales! You too can kickstart your product launch and can boost your sales to a huge success. But there is no universal law that is to be followed. Every brand has its own strategies, brand value, and shortcomings. Do you know that sometimes even the most experienced product managers fail to get the product off the ground?

Photo by Ugur Akdemir on Unsplash

Every single day countless products are being launches across the globe. But they fail to perform well in the market no because they are not up to the mark, but because they are not marketed well. To launch the product in the market that creates a buzz in the market and that catches the attention of the target audience requires careful study of the market. Let us have a look at the following steps that will help you in achieving this target:

Analyze your Competitors

In addition to working on your brand’s SWOT (Strength Weakness Opportunity Threat) analysis, you have to keep an eye on the competitor’s SWOT analysis too. You have to start by taking your competitors seriously. Make a list of your competitors that are offering products or services in your domain. Try to figure out their strength, weaknesses, strategies and future plans. Analyze what makes them stand in the competition. Plan your strategy according to your competitors. Get into the shoes of the customers and know what is their definition of a good product. This will help you in your marketing strategy, advertisements and you can stand out from the crowd.

Focus on Target Customers

Photo by Dom Hill on Unsplash

As a brand, you have to focus more on the target audience. They are the ones for whom you are launching your new product or services. So it becomes necessary to focus on the customers who are most likely to buy from you that too for a long term. There may be customers who might be purchasing similar products or services as you are providing and appreciate the new features or quality you are offering. But your ideal customer will be those who have a need for your products and services, can afford to buy the product and are eager to buy from you.

Give Something Unique

Before actually starting marketing, you must have a clear idea of what you have to market. What are the things that make your product stand out from all the products that are available out there in the market? You should make it clear to the customers that why should they buy your product and not from the bunch of competitors out there in the market. In a nutshell, make sure your product is a value to the money, it should have unique features and it should fulfill the needs of the customers.

Work on Marketing Strategy

“A standing man in a black and white shirt reading a newspaper” by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Next, you have to make your marketing strategies clear to your team. What would be your channels for the marketing? Are you going to market the product online? Select all channels through which you would like to market your product eg, newspaper, magazines, print media, digital media, television etc. Generally, multi-channel marketing is more effective as your product is exposed to the customers from every possible channel.

Test Before Launches

We know you have put a lot of effort, money, and resources and bought up your post like a child. Why risk the success of your product prior to the proper testing of your product. You should test your product or service, marketing message and the value you are going to provide through your product. You can first focus on the sample target audience group or simply can have a meeting with the target audience group. Distribute your product in malls, and small retailers to know the response. Carry out online surveys to know how your product is performing before actually launching the product.

Get your Campaign Started

It’s time to start your campaign. Get all the media coverage you can get. Create a hype and buzz for the product. Start advertising heavily, start various contests, distribute prizes. Hold a launch event for the product. Get your product available in the market so that customers can easily buy your product. Make sure that you get the most out of the media coverage and hype. Analyze the results after the campaign and check what worked best for you.

By implementing all these techniques, you can boost the sales of your product. There are many other strategies that you can follow for a good product launch but these are few strategies that work for almost all the brands whether big or small. A good product launch is foundation for the good sales and you can lay the foundation for your next product and next innovation.