Saturday, October 30, 2010

Get Management Support for Your PR Change

PR and marketing plans often fail because communicators do not sufficiently engage the boss in what they are doing.  Put simply:  fail to win senior management buy-in and watch your PR proposal die. Often times persuading the boss is the toughest part in the whole communications process.

Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin's new book Repositioning: marketing in an era of competition, change and crisis suggests the communications barriers between the top floor where funds are allocated and the shop floor where ideas are born often involve:
  • Cows: Never underestimate how tough it will be to get management sign-off  on  a new proposal that threatens someone else's favourite cow or worse still their cash cow. Future opportunities are often slaughtered on the altar of today's practices. 
  • Bad decisions:  People are reluctant to embrace new ideas that cause them embarrassment about decisions they have made in the past.
  • Egos:  Always factor in egos. The person in charge may regard an initiative as a threat to their authority or status.  They may either try to kill it or perhaps as bad to modify and brand it as their own.  Trout and Steve Rivkin point out this ploy can be like changing a cake recipe.  The cake may end up looking the same but it sure does not taste the same. 
Both authors have come up with strategies to help you convince the boss and the board, all no doubt won from years of dealing with senior managers.
  • The world has changed:  Include a section on how the world has changed upfront in your proposal.  This acknowledges previous decisions and past poor performance were  based on the best  information available at the time but now things are different.  It avoids directly confronting past mistakes, lack of action or earlier decisions that were just plain bad.
  • Educate  the boss:  Never, ever assume management knows about marketing, PR or communications or the latest trends.  Bring in an outside expert to advise them, give them a suitable book to read or arrange for them to meet someone from a successful (non-competing) organisation they admire.
  • Analogy:  Use the power of analogy to draw a comparison with others.  XYZ Company passed on trying something similar and look what happened to them. Given people are often motivated by loss rather than gain introduce a note of caution or alarm into the comparison.  However always end with of course they may not happen to us but...
  • Implement slowly:  Start slowly, pilot programs, use trials and always announce your victories.
Please share your ideas on persuading CEOs to support your PR or marketing initiatives.  

(Source Repositioning Pages 180 - 188)


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Repositioning Your Brand: Book Review

Repositioning: marketing in an era of competition, change and crisis
Easy read with practical information
is authored by US marketers Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin.

Both have written a book of uncommon wisdom for marketers in the post Global Financial Crisis world. 

It is hardly suprising Trout (and Rivkin) has produced this book now.  Communicators know that competition is fiercer than ever, budgets are under pressure and the old ways of communicating are under serious challenge. Since the 1980s Trout has been writing and offering solid, practical marketing ideas in compelling, clear prose for communicators of all descriptions.  My bookcase holds several of his earlier works and while their 80s and 90s covers now look dated and daggy each is well-read and much loved.

Repositioning calls on companies not to manufacture but to adjust the perceptions people have either of them or their competition.  Why?  Because people are complex creatures when it comes to communications. We are overloaded with information, few of us can tolerate confusion or risk, we lose focus easily and once we have made up our minds that’s pretty much it.  It is hard to move us from our existing attitudes so only by working within the framework of how people already think can organizations achieve sustainable results.

The authors suggest two basic strategies to get people to thinking differently about your brand.  Reposition the competition and/or go out all out to compete on a simply defined value proposition. Big companies often struggle to carry out either one. They are slower to turn around than the Queen Mary and because of their size and complexity many have trouble managing their way out of problems or managing their way into opportunities.   Of course big firms are well placed to compete on price.  However this is often a short-lived strategy and one only available to the bigger players.  For the rest of us someone else can always mark down the sales docket lower than we can, plus research shows most price promotions rarely succeed in the long run. 

Reframing the competition means hanging a negative on a rival to reflect a favourable comparison on ourselves.  Given most marketers are positive, upbeat souls and most managers are disinclined to controversy it can be difficult to steer an organization in this direction. Yet Trout and Rivkin cite examples in the olive oil, prestige cars, vodka and other industries showing how this strategy can fence in the competition.

We instinctively know successful marketers need to communicate value to the marketplace because as one chapter title proclaims “value is the name of the game”.  Value can come through doing something special, getting new technologies to the market first or stressing whole of life costs over mere purchase price. It can also come from adding premiums others cannot match or at its most basic by being  plain nice and helpful to your customers.

The book cautions repositioning is not easy.  It takes focus, management leading from the front and advertising and public relations combining in a linear, well thought out fashion.  The key ingredients for any repositioning strategy are time and commitment.

The book sells for $42.95?  Is it worth it?  It is to me.  Right now I am putting together a marketing strategy for an iconic project with high expectations.  It has involved many dedicated people for many years and the public has definite opinions.  I am sure Trout and Rivkin's insights will help me plan a better campaign. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

200,000 texts sent every second

200,000 texts sent every second

The popularity of text messaging has leapt three-fold in the past three years, with almost 200,000 text messages sent every second, the UN telecommunications agency has said.

A total of 1.8 trillion SMSs were sent in 2007, but in 2010, the number sent has jumped to 6.1 trillion

To read the full story on your mobile please use this link

To read the full story on a PC or Mac please use this link

Monday, October 4, 2010

What Have I Been Up To?

It's been almost a month since I last blogged. 

Since then I conducted two tele-workshops on PR for Lions Australia and I've been reading lots of books on marketing and communications.  

The latest is What Makes Us Tick  by well known and respected social researcher Hugh Mackay.  I'm half way through it and it's an insightful read on people's basic motivations.  In fact it's the type of book which should be compulsory for anyone working in communications or management.  

I'll post a review as soon as I have finished the book.