Marketing Strategy That Best Defends Your Company Against Competition



What do I mean by the phrase, “A marketing strategy that best defends your company”?

Protecting your assets with the right marketing strategy results in the shielding and enhancing of your brand, as well as protecting your customer base.

Also, my sense is there are two other marketing facets that warrant a great defense: Your industry and your position in it. Another way of putting it is to say that you should want to be No. 1 in a vibrant industry.

Not to criticize other marketing tools, the best single strategy to accomplish both – promoting your and industry while getting top-of-mind awareness – is with editorial coverage.

Bill Gates made famous this quote: “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.” Certainly, there’s ample confirmation of his approach.

Even if you go to the competing Google News instead of Bing, you’ll typically find 50-million results for the key word, Microsoft. (For an explanation of editorial coverage, see: PR Is Nearly 90% More Valuable Than Content Marketing — Study.)

“But what about social media or search-engine optimization techniques?” you ask.

Yes, I know all about the two tools and the eyeballs that they can generate. Those social media and SEO can be very helpful for the short term.

That’s not to say advertising on radio or TV isn’t important because it is, especially for certain sectors such as auto and truck sales. Admittedly, ongoing PR is labor-intensive and difficult to achieve on a daily basis.

You should also be concerned about the long-term sustainability of your business. So again, editorial coverage is important to lay a foundation for long-term brand value.

Gerri Knilans, the principal of Trade Press Services (www.tradepressservices.com), is an expert in this arena.

She’s such a guru she confidently provides a unique guarantee: “Trade Press Services will get you coverage in the publication outlets you target, or we’ll refund your investment.”

Benefits of editorial coverage

She points out the 12 benefits of editorial coverage:

  1. Increases visibility, credibility and name recognition in the marketplace.
  2. Gives you tangible materials to post online, tweet, and share through your social media networks.
  3. Generates new sales.
  4. Builds your prospect base.
  5. Tests new market sector opportunities.
  6. Introduces new products or services.
  7. Creates a competitive advantage.
  8. Creates or alters marketplace perceptions.
  9. Positions the company as a market leader and your key people as industry experts.
  10. Maximizes the ROI from marketing dollars invested.
  11. Brings renewed pride, enthusiasm and boosts buy-in of employees, sales agents and other business associates.
  12. Provides you with a source of new and effective marketing tools to support your sales efforts.

In her blog on LinkedIn, “The Real Truth about Advertising and Articles,” she reminds us about the downsides of advertising:

“Pick up any magazine, and browse through the ads. What do you see? Catchy slogans, free-trial or limited-time offers and wild claims. In other words, companies make use of that medium to actively promote their products or services and try to persuade readers to buy them. But sometimes this backfires. At best, readers might overlook the glossy ads, and worst case, they view them with skepticism.”In her blog on LinkedIn, “The Real Truth about Advertising and Articles,” she reminds us about the downsides of advertising:

Ms. Knilans points out magazine readers want “valuable information, solutions to their problems and other educational content.”

She adds you get “instant credibility” by authoring an article: “This leads to a positive image – one that creates trust. In fact, a Nielsen study found that 67 percent of consumers trust editorial content.”

What about a long shelf-life?

“Rather than the fleeting image that comes from an advertisement, a feature article, case study, or opinion column has a long shelf-life and can be used in many ways throughout the year,” she writes. “It’s also a more cost-effective way to reach thousands of prospects or customers.”

Naturally, don’t forget magazines have Web sites. Links from those sites to your site represent gold for your online brand.

Effective ways to leverage editorial content

To capitalize on your editorial content, Ms. Knilans offers these suggestions:

  • Create professional PDF reprints of the articles for salespeople and other representatives to use in their live and electronic sales and marketing presentations.
  • Post article reprints and links to online publications on your website to demonstrate tangible recognition of your expertise.
  • Use social media to share PDFs and links to online articles with your followers.
  • Include reprints in your online and hard copy media kit to promote speaking engagements.
  • Distribute PDFs or hard copy article reprints by electronic or traditional mail with personalized messages to prospects and consumers.

So, in your budget allow for editorial coverage.

It’s worth noting I’ve known Ms. Knilans for well over a decade as we were members of an association of consultants in Los Angeles. You can trust her valuable opinions.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related tips:

5 Vital Elements to Help You Aim at Your PR Targets — Even in this advanced age of the digital economy, a sound public relations program remains one of your most-powerful marketing investments. PR can give you power with an implied endorsement from the media. Even if journalists aren’t motivated to give you publicity, a strong PR campaign will help you to circumvent them.

How to Leverage the News Media to Brand Your Business — Social media is OK for promotion. But if you need blockbuster publicity, use best practices in marketing. Play a trump card — leverage the news media for public relations. Yes, it’s true that increasing numbers of adults – especially the Millennials – are using social media for their news and information, and for making buying decisions.

Public Relations Expert Provides Crisis Management Tips — Appearances count. But universities, presidential candidates and businesses have all demonstrated a lack of awareness about good public relations. A public relations expert explains what they should have done.

11 Tips to Enhance Your Career as an Effective Writer — As a career — whether you’re writing as an author or to generate content to market your business — effective writing requires two attributes. They are dedication and passion.

SEO Tips to Rank No.1 on Bing and Google — Study — There are striking similarities with Bing and Google — Web sites for top brands rank the highest and No. 1 sites are dominant because they have quality content, as well as strong social media signals and backlinks.

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”

-Wayne Gretzky


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Public Relations Expert Provides Crisis Management Tips



Appearances count. But universities, presidential candidates and businesses have all demonstrated a lack of awareness about good public relations.

Consider these examples:

  • BP’s PR crisis following its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Penn State and Syracuse – their sexual abuse scandals
  • Herman Cain was forced to quit his bid for the GOP nomination following his weak and untimely responses to the sexual harassment accusations
  • Bank of America’s controversial debit-card pricing fee, which prompted countless Americans to switch to community banks and credit unions, and a downgrade in the bank’s credit rating
  • Anthem Blue Cross of California faced multiple lawsuits as a result of policyholder perceptions of predatory increases in healthcare premiums and deductibles

Undoubtedly, in each situation, they would benefit from expert PR counsel.

“Businesses, politicians, sports figures and celebrities should all have a crisis plan because, sooner or later, they’re apt to need to activate it,” says noted PR expert Devon Blaine. “If that need never arises, at least they were prepared in case it did. There’s no harm in being a good Scout!”

Ms. Blaine has been the president and CEO of The Blaine Group, Inc. in Los Angeles since 1975.

“We’ve all seen what happens when people are not prepared,” she asserts. “Herman Cain is the perfect example. And he had a 10-day heads up prior to the Politico article coming out!  Most people don’t have that advantage.”

She says even with a crisis plan, there are important financial considerations.

“…even if a crisis ends up being well managed despite the lack of advance preparation, managing the situation is needlessly more costly than it would have been had plans been made in advance,” Ms. Blaine explains. “The quality of the response may also suffer.”

She advises against complacency.

“Everyone believes that it will ‘not happen to me,’ but it can…and does…even to extremely small businesses such as our client that imported all of the wheat gluten from China that was used in every recalled pet food product a few years back,” she cites as an example.

“Had they had a crisis plan prepared which identified the vendors needed to mitigate risk, i.e., FDA attorney, crisis public relations firm, other legal counsel, etc., before they needed all of the above on an emergency basis, they would have paid a small consulting fee in advance and been ready rather than retaining all of the above on a last-moment, already-into-the-crisis emergency basis at top billing rates.”

Here are her excerpted answers to my crisis-management questions:

Q: What are the keys to crisis management?  

A: There are many, for example:

  • Knowing what the potential crises could be
  • Planning and preparing in case the unthinkable should occur
  • Knowing who does what
  • Ensuring that the “chain of command” is known and adhered to in their office
  • Having a trained spokesperson who will address the media
  • Knowing what media to outreach to so that you are proactive rather than reactive
  • Ideally, having an ongoing positive media campaign in place, based on the theory that the best defense is a strong offense…if your business is viewed as a good corporate/community citizen, a crisis will harm the business less, and perhaps not at all

Q: How do you suggest preparing for crises in business?  

A: Ideally the management team will brainstorm what they believe could go wrong in the business and then bring in a professional risk manager and crisis public relations person to brainstorm with them. A walk through the facility will also identify other potential trigger points, i.e., doors that are left open and provide access to the company’s computer server, to other sensitive data, to products where quality control is essential, etc.

“We’ve all seen what happens when people are not prepared.”

Q: How do you suggest preventing a crisis?  

A: Conducting business in a prudent fashion is always the best way to prevent a crisis, however, there are issues beyond your control that can go awry, i.e., buying product from a manufacturer that operates with less than optimum ethics, importing toys that are decorated in China with paint that is toxic to humans, etc… unless you have control over each part of the process, there’s room for error. Visiting your vendor before doing business with them can help to control this but does not 100 percent ensure that you’ll not encounter a problem later.

Q: In the event of a crisis, what are best business management practices?  

A: Openness with the press and honesty are the best practices. Sometimes issuing a “controlled statement” is the best way to proceed, especially when management needs to focus on resolving the problem rather than being available to the press 24/7. It also prevents the possibility of a “burnout moment” and guards against a response that is not empathetic… as we saw in the recent oil spill crisis. Absolutely never respond with “no comment.” It is better to say “we are aware of the situation and we are looking into it,” which gives no more information yet sounds caring, concerned, involved, active and responsive rather than evasive.

Q: What are your suggestions for testing your crisis plan?  

A: In an ideal world, your management team will work with a crisis planning team such as that which The Blaine Group offers with its Reputational Risk Management Solution Product and avail itself of the opportunity to have key management roll up its sleeves and “play” a board game where a crisis is enacted and everyone plays out their role. We recommend this be done on a quarterly basis to ensure that everyone stays fresh. It is also a good idea for your spokespeople to be trained and for there to be “refresher” sessions every few months.

Q: What should be done PR-wise immediately following a crisis?

A: See the response above regarding best business management practices. And, more important, think about what should be done before a crisis, i.e., being a good corporate citizen and making sure that you’re acknowledged as such in an ongoing positive corporate communications campaign.

Q: What should be done during the crisis aftermath?

A: See best business management practices above. Also, ensure that there is a steady stream of information released as you have answers to the situation that occurred.

Q: What should be done once a crisis has ended?

A: If there has been a problem with one of the company’s products or their product has caused their customers problems, there’s an opportunity to generate goodwill by setting up a program that not only ensures this won’t happen again but also instructs their customers in how to handle such a crisis.  Be certain to communicate that all underlying issues have been addressed.

(Note: I’ve been very familiar with the expertise of Ms. Blaine since 2004. She is a fellow member of Consultants West, a roundtable of veteran consultants in the Los Angeles area.)

From the Coach’s Corner, Ms. Blaine also explains the secrets to marketing success in a tepid economy.

“If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.”

-Bill Gates


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.  




Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.