I’m a good do-bee when it comes to subscribing to magazines and newsletters designed to keep me abreast of public relations industry trends. I have a nice stack on the corner of my desk to prove it!
But the stack only grows taller – never shorter – until I finally sweep it into the trash can.
I would never cancel the subscriptions to my trade magazines; just like those size 4 jeans in the closet, I’m sure I’ll get into them one of these days! But that doesn’t mean I don’t find time to read. Without fail, I start every day with my newspaper and mug of coffee.
I’m not alone. I know plenty of business owners and professionals who are diligent about maintaining their trade subscriptions – but not so diligent about actually reading them every month.
That’s why, when a prospective client, a doctor, came to us with a book for medical school students, he presumed he should target the trades and universities rather than consumer-oriented publications. I was quick to say, “No.” Actually, “Yes” and “No.”
If the target audience for your product, book or company is made up of peers within your industry, of course you should reach out to trade publications. But certainly not at the expense of mainstream newspapers, magazines and on-line publications.
Because business owners, doctors, lawyers and other professionals are also consumers, just like you and me. They read the paper, they check their favorite websites for breaking news, they have special interests that prompt them to snag cooking and sports magazines from the rack at the supermarket checkout. If you want to be sure you’re going to reach your target audience, you have to aim for them where they live.
The trick is, how to get a business-to-business message into an article meant for the general public? If you’re selling product parts to manufacturers, what message could you possibly have that would appeal to all those people (and reporters, editors and bloggers) who care not a whit about cogs and compression springs?
The answer may surprise you.
A few years ago, we represented a company that produces a nutritional extract good for shoring up the body’s immune system. The company sold nothing directly to the consumer, rather, its customers were businesses that produce natural health supplements. We wrote an article in which the company president shared ways people can prevent coming down with colds and flu. Of course, one of the tips was using the extract the company produces.
The article was distributed to editors and reporters at mainstream consumer publications, many of whom ran it either whole or in part, or called to arrange interviews with the helpful tipster. The client was happy because it raised awareness about the extract and its value to the consumer, and it helped with sales to the supplement manufacturers. Who knows how many of them learned about it not through their trade journals but because they were avid newspaper readers?
Another client had a company that manufactures a concrete paving product that was less expensive than other paving products and easier to install. Like the extract producer, this company did not sell direct to consumers. However, the client realized the value of making consumers aware of the product, so they would ask their contractors for it. The client also wanted to reach contractors, who might offer the product to their customers.
We went out to radio, TV and print media with a story about how consumers can avoid outdoor renovation scams. The client’s top executive was positioned as a consumer advocate and an expert in the industry, which helped brand the company as trustworthy. The stories and talk shows reached both consumers and contractors – who watch TV, listen to the radio, and read the same newspapers and magazines as the rest of us. Our client was quickly established as an advocate, an expert, and the manufacturer of a budget-conscious quality product.
If you think you’ve got only a business-to-business message, think about it from the perspective of the people you want to reach. Just maybe, it will be much easier finding them at home than in the office.
Now there’s a thought. Maybe I’ll read my stack of trade magazines if I bring them home.
Hmmm. Don’t think so.
Marsha Friedman launched EMS Incorporated in 1990. Her firm represents corporations and experts in a wide array of fields such as business, health, food, lifestyle, politics, finance, law, sports and entertainment. She consults individuals and businesses on a daily basis and is frequently asked to speak at conferences about how to harness the power of publicity. Outside of the office, she is also the founder of a non-profit organization called the Cherish the Children Foundation. In 1996 the White House recognized her charity which sets out to raise awareness of the plight of underprivileged and foster children.