Monthly Archives: October 2012

Marketing – a game for everyone to play

This weekend’s papers featured full page ads for Adobe’s updated software package which promises to solve everyone’s marketing problems.

It made me think – if marketing is now a case of plugging in the software then sitting back and waiting for the results does this mark the end of the marketing consultant? Are marketing professionals about to become obsolete? Is marketing just a game?

When I first saw the advert my heart sank – for years marketers have tried to convince businesses that there’s more to the profession than intuition, inspiration, smoke and mirrors. And they’ve had to work hard to convince others that theirs is a real business skill.

Everyone thinks they are a marketing expert. Few people walk in to the legal team at a large company and suggest ways they might improve their performance in court. Or head off to accounts with a suggestion for changing the way they run their year-end.

But almost everyone at some point will head for the marketing department and utter the immortal word, “I’ve had a great idea…”

And isn’t that how it should be? If creative ideas and constructive suggestions aren’t welcome in a marketing department then where can you raise them? You’d expect professional communicators to listen to new ideas and discuss your suggestion – it’s what they’re good at. Your accounts team may perform numerical miracles but you wouldn’t automatically expect them to be expert communications – it’s not their job.

But chances are it is their job to use the accounts software. Having a specialist piece of software doesn’t make you a good accountant. And having a design package doesn’t turn you into a talented artist.

In both cases you still need an aptitude for the subject and the ability to understand the information it provides you with. And you need the skill to input good information in the first place. Rubbish in usually produces rubbish out.

So will having access to specialist marketing software turn everyone into a marketing expert?

It’s unlikely. But it’s great news that marketing is taking its place amongst the mainstream professions. Adobe’s software package and its advertising campaign brings marketing to the attention of more businesses.  The more people who start to understand that marketing is a genuine business skill and not a dark art the better prospects are for marketing professionals everywhere – with or without the software.

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How a trip to the circus can explain PR and marketing

If you’re running a business you might be considering your PR or marketing. But what exactly do these terms mean?

This definition from Hollywood publicist Lee Solters may help:

  •  When the circus comes to town and you paint a sign about it, that’s advertising.
  • Put the sign on the back of the elephant and march through town, that’s promotion.
  • If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flowerbed, that’s publicity.
  • And if you can get the mayor to comment about it, that’s public relations.

You might also like to consider another point:

  • If you planned the whole thing, that’s marketing.

So there you go – understanding the difference between PR, advertising, promotion and marketing is as easy as a trip to the circus.

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Are media interviews as easy as ABC?

If you’ve been asked to do a radio, TV or newspaper interview then it’s because the reporter thinks you have something interesting to say.

And you undoubtedly have two or three key messages you want the reporter – and more importantly –the audience, to know about your story.

But how can you make sure the audience hear what you wanted to say and not what the reporter wanted you to say?

In a radio or TV interview you may only have one sentence to put your point across.

Preparation is the key to any interview.

Write down two or three things you want everyone to know and practice saying them over and over again. In most interviews the reporter will lead you into your key message – it’s why they wanted to speak to you.

But what if the questions you’re asked don’t lead you to the answers you want to give? How can you get your message across without sounding as if you’re ducking the question?

Child's building blocks showing ABCTry the ABC technique.

Imagine you’ve been asked by a radio station to talk live on air about new apprentice positions you have available.

You’re all set to talk about your business, investment and opportunities for local people but the reporter has asked how a new government policy will affect your business. You’ve not even heard of the policy. What do you do? Use ABC – acknowledge, bridge and continue.

Acknowledge – Don’t duck the question. It’s also OK to admit you don’t know something. Try “I’m not sure what effect that will have….” or “I’m sure that’s something we’ll have to consider…”

Then…

Bridge: Provide a link from what you don’t want to talk about to what you do. Use phrases like “what’s important here is…” or “..what you have to remember is…”. You could also try “what I can say is…”

Then…

Continue: Move onto what you want to say: “…our new apprenticeships are great news for young people wanting to gain experience and develop their skills.”

You can use the ABC technique to steer conversations back onto the topic – a handy skill in interviews and if you’re chairing meetings.

So next time you’re preparing for a media interview and think it may stray into unknown territory remember bringing it back on track is as easy as ABC.

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