Pr Stomps Seo For Free Traffic – How Does A 156,000% Return-on-investment Grab Ya?

Every internet marketer I’ve ever met is staunchly defensive of direct result marketing methodologies as the only way to sell an information product. Since the internet has been around and now people are making kazillions of bucks in minutes at a time, it’s hard to blame them.
Ten years ago when the first internet bubble was growing, I remember networking in Los Angeles at the big online social organizations. Aside from the money being thrown at non-revenue generating business models, I noticed one really strange thing about it: everyone was insisting that all marketing had to be online. In response, I started my own “technology,” calling it MarketingBridge and it was meant to teach online businesses how to integrate traditional methods into their marketing mix and vice-versa. My pitch about the value of MarketingBridge was this: “If you are selling a product that is bought by a large number of bus riders, you might think about buying ads on bus benches (instead of just online).”

Fast forward to our new internet world.

As a publicist who has recently started hanging around the internet marketing arena in our brave new online world, I was not sure at first that PR would be well received by this group.

After accepting a gracious invitation from e-marketing guru, Eben Pagan, to talk about PR to his GuruMastermind group of 500 who had flown to LA from all over the world, I pulled my hair out wondering how I can connect the non-measurable, “awareness-centric” value of PR to these folks. During the 3 day workshop, I texted my information product mentor, Chance Barnett, incessantly with requests for encouragement; I needed ideas on how to make this direct marketing/PR connection for my talk on the last evening of the event. Finally, he said, “Listen, what you do is the only way I know that you can get third-party endorsement to millions of people in just one magazine, newspaper article, or TV/radio show. No affiliate marketing program or pay-per-click program does that; so go get ‘em!”

I exhaled, sat back, and thought: “He’s right.”

So, after all that hair-pulling, I decided I’d just talk about what I know and here it is: PR is hands-down, the most cost- effective traffic generation tool that currently exists. In my 20 years in this business, the press clips we have generated garnered a minimum of 350% – 156,000% return on investment and reached multi-millions of eyeballs. Yeah, true.

Did you know that the Los Angeles Times is read by over 1.5 million people daily? How many see TIME magazine? National Enquirer? Oprah?? The Tom Leykis Show??

The beauty of PR is that when a reporter writes an article or reports a story on air, your product is getting the #2 most effective marketing method on earth: “3rd party endorsement.” Ostensibly, they are giving their opinion, which next to a “word-of-mouth” recommendation is the most influential marketing one could hope for. Just think of all the products that Oprah has deemed her “favorite” and tell me what happened to their traffic?

Customers today, whether they are online or in a mall, are savvy. They know the difference between an ad and editorial. They know that an advertiser buys space and has the freedom to say whatever they want. The trust factor that once existed in the advertising world is no longer. PR is objective. Laura and Al Ries, authors of The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR, say, “PR is an island of objectivity in a sea of advertising prejudice.”

And if there’s one thing that Eben Pagan taught me, it’s this: internet marketing is all about building trust between a seller and a customer. It’s about getting into a customer’s head and finding a way to solve their problem. This makes the value of PR even more stellar an approach.

I’m not suggesting, by the way, that you ignore the e-marketing basics of looking for rankings, obtaining affiliate relationships, or pay-per-click advertising. You have to do that, otherwise, your website is like a party that was thrown without invitations sent. What I am suggesting, however, is that you find something newsworthy about your product and get it reported about in magazines, newspapers, radio, and TV that is read/seen/heard by your target customer.

To start, you can find free customized press lists here, along with step by step instructions on how to write press releases, how to pitch the press, how to contact reporters and when, and even how to produce a special event.

Do it now. You need this.

Did You Realize There’s Actually Not That Much Difference Between Your New Product And All The Big Ones On Retailers’ Shelves?

It’s true.

As an entrepreneur, however, I bet you are wondering EXACTLY what that difference is and how to get from here to there.

Have you created a small business for yourself and are wondering what will be the tipping point when it will finally take off?

Are you fantasizing about an overnight success?

Have you suddenly been noticing all the wild news stories about unlikely candidates who struck it rich with a crazy idea that became the newest “Pet Rock”?

It makes you wonder…

Maybe you’re watching The Secret over and over again. You might be furiously creating “vision boards,” and filling boxes with cut-out photos of the things you want to manifest.

I’ve done that.

You’ve even taken your sorry bank statement and replaced the numbers with cushy bunches of zeros? Aaaah. Makes you feel good, huh?

Will there be a moment in time when luck smiles on you and something just “happens” to get every potential customer knocking down your door to buy your product?

When will it be “your time?”

Is there really such a thing as a lucky break?

Come on, admit it: I know you have thought about all of this at least once… Maybe a lot!

It took me years to build my own business, and the lessons I learned along the way range from hysterically funny to tragically expensive.

I survived the embarrassment of learning what a DBA was when the bank teller told me I couldn’t cash my first customer’s check without my partner’s signature. That lesson came after I fibbed to her saying my partner (who was my dog) “was in Europe.” I just didn’t know how to say, “Would you accept a paw print?”

That was the funny one.

I also survived the $5,000 penalty the EDD charged me and the angst of being audited to learn the difference between an “independent contractor” and an “employee.” That still hurts to think about.

The point is, I had the customers and cash flow to handle it. Where would I be had I not had customers?

So seriously, what is the deal? How – and when – is your business going to take off?

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called The Tipping Point, in which he describes a certain time where a want becomes a need on a mass scale and then it takes on a life of its own.

How the heck do you make that happen?

…especially with a limited budget?

Scratching your head?

I hear ya.

The truth is, some of us are indeed “lucky” types. Some of us have to work much harder to create what we want. Why this happens, is a longer and more involved conversation, but there is ONE NECESSARY thing – which, by the way is always the same for anyone – to gain success. It works, every time, no matter how lucky, cursed, wealthy, or wise you are.

Over the years, I’ve worked with many entrepreneurs, each of whom have their own version of the “pet rock.” They have ranged from bras that eliminate visible bra lines to magnetic wine pourers that make a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon taste like a 1998 and web businesses that coach, cajole and sell. No matter what kind of business, to me, they are all “products” with tremendous potential.

Some succeed. Most fail.

It was the failures that inspired me to write a book called the PR Handbook for Entrepreneurs. After getting thousands of calls from excited entrepreneurs with great ideas who just wanted to get their product to market, I thought, “Why don’t I just share what I know to teach them to do it themselves?”

So one of the shortcuts to learn how to find that tipping point is to go here and get started on the chapter called “The Mechanics of PR.” It will teach you everything you need to know about positioning your product so it stands out, how to talk about it in a way that gets people’s ears pricked, and how to get interviewed by the press so that millions hear about your product at once.

Sounds like a good option for very few bucks? You betcha.

Making dreams into reality seems like a daunting task, but I’ve learned that the secret to success all comes down to one thing:

Focus.

Then, there are two things that you must focus on:

A grand vision

And

Moving your feet in the direction toward that which you want to create.

Of course a healthy dose of tenacity and fearlessness help – a lot.

Winston Churchill said something that, to this day, I think is one of my favorite quotes: “Education will not. Privilege will not. Experience will not. Tenacity will.”

Cool Mr. Churchill, thanks for the advice, but now what?

How about some short cuts? Could you use a template on “How to Write a Press Release” about your product that gets the attention of reporters from TIME magazine or Oprah? Did you know that when you learn how to write a press release that is truly “newsworthy” you could have magazines, newspapers, and TV/radio shows calling YOU?

Do you realize that if your product gets reported in just ONE place that gets thousands to millions of readers/listeners, that this could be the tipping point?

It could make or break your business.

That’s kinda exciting, huh? Usually this costs $5,000 a month for a PR firm to do for you. You can do it yourself… and get FREE press lists here.

I was hosting some friends over for dinner recently. The conversation turned to “manifestation.” One of them was really into it. The other was skeptical. An interesting conversation ensued that I want to share with you because it’s most likely another “Ah ha” you need to know about getting over that hump and finally getting your lucky break.

We, as living, breathing beings with great business ideas, are in effect, manifestors. We create ideas, products, relationships, and good and bad experiences.

The truth is, there is very little OUTSIDE of you that influences your reality.

If you doubt this statement, PLEASE DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER, hang up your ideas of becoming an entrepreneur, and focus on finding a job.

You are the key to your success. Your focus on your dreams MUST be your priority in order to succeed.

Now if you watch The Secret, for example, you’ll learn that imagining your goals and putting yourself into the place of already having them is powerful stuff.

And it is.

It’s incredibly powerful, actually. I manifested my first Porsche that way while driving along in my Honda, hearing the engine, smelling the leather, and feeling the horses yanking me up the Pacific Coast Highway.

But my friend at dinner brought up something that I realized was the necessary twin to manifestation; the other thing that “activates” a desire.

Resistant to the skeptic’s contrarian view of the importance of manifestation, we argued with him for a while until he said, “Well, if manifestation is the only way to create success, explain how a large group of the airy fairy ‘manifestors’ always seem to be in a world of wanting and never getting.”

He continued, “And if manifestation is really the ONLY thing that works, why are there so many successes out there who knew nothing about ‘manifestation techniques,’ yet have become incredible successes by just working their tails off?”

Good question. Hmmmmmmmmmmm. His comment inspired the conversation to roll around in my brain for about a week.

His argument was that working hard – moving your feet in the direction of your dreams – is the ONE NECESSARY thing that gets you what you want. Without the ACTION, you can dream all you want, but the Porsche will not just appear on the doorstep.

The upshot of this is that I discovered that manifestation serves as the template for success, but focused hard work is the thing that fills it in and creates the reality.

In other words, manifestation is powerful, but without action, it’s pretty unlikely to create what you want. On the other hand, hard work without vision can exhaust you and create pessimism. Ideally, manifestation and hard work go together.

So, let’s get back to why some businesses suddenly explode and others languish.

How much love are you giving your dream? And how much action-oriented things are you doing to make it happen?

Here’s another secret:

The entrepreneurs who really win are the ones who fearlessly pursue their ideas. QUICKLY.

In other words, DO IT NOW. Don’t wait for anything. PURSUE your dreams and do whatever you can to make it become a reality.

Don’t get stuck on whether it’s the right thing to do. Just do SOMETHING.

Some entrepreneurs stay stuck in creating legal setups and thinking about staffing their office headquarters for months and even years. You can’t expect to become a success if you don’t have a product and people to buy it. Right?

Once you have an idea, get it out there. If it’s not quite done, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll get it done when you start your marketing and find that people want it.

Sound risky?

Think again. Better yet, go here and arm yourself with a copy of “How to Contact a Reporter.” Did you know that you can just call TIME magazine and see if the reporter likes your story? This tool will teach you what to say, how and when to say it, and make it comfortable for you to pick up the phone to anyone and get a compelling story about your product out on the table in less than a paragraph.

If you get reported about in TIME, it doesn’t matter if your lawyer has created a corporation for you yet, or if you have a staff or an office… you’ll have customers. And then you’ll be surprised how things fall into place.

Until next time, keep dreaming and moving your feet.

The Marketing Umbrella

By Alyson Dutch

In a nutshell, marketing is any method used to get a product / service into the hands of someone who wants to buy it; and, preferably can’t live without it. Which methods you choose, depend solely upon who your customer is and how you can most readily engage their interest and get them to pull their credit card from their wallet. Ideally, choose from this list a series of methods that will become your “marketing mix.”

Advertising – One of the most expensive, yet influential marketing methods, advertising is the purchase of   space or time in a magazine, newspaper, magazine, TV, radio or online that is filled with fixed content provided by the advertiser. Often compared to PR, advertising, is subjective, while PR is objective.  There is high art and science that goes into advertising and it’s incredibly powerful when paired with other forms of marketing, but is very expensive to employ alone, especially for startups. Trade advertising can be very targeted and affordable, but national ads, like magazines can cost anywhere from $160K a month for one page. TV advertising can also be targeted and possibly affordable on cable, but national advertising can’t be done effectively for less than millions of dollars.

Advertorial – a hybrid of advertising and publicity in a paid-for space in print or electronic media. In a magazine, this is something that looks like an article or editorial in style, but the space has been paid for. Advertorial is usually cheaper than advertising. 

Awards and recognition – soliciting awards for your product are a good way to gain credibility with your customer, whether it be getting a Good Housekeeping seal for a home product, USDA organic certification for a natural food or a green Energy Star stamp of approval for an eco appliance, awards are like having celebrities in your pocket; they create automatic reputation and move you further along the path of a customer having enough faith to try something new.

Direct mail – The use of the United State Postal Service to sell a product/service. This could be anything from postcards, to special packages of samples sent to scads of addresses which are purchased by SIC (standard industrial classification aka industry identifier) codes and/or zip codes. There is some high technology that has popped up over the past 20 years that makes targeting of address information a science. Direct mail tends to be a very expensive form of marketing, probably only second to advertising, however, it can be extremely effective. Recently, some of the smartest direct mail uses handwriting and what appears to be personally scribbled Post-It Notes to encourage recipients to open the envelope or read the contents.

Direct response TV (DRTV) – This includes all forms of infomercials, however long or short and also “DRTV” purveyors like Home Shopping Network and QVC. There are many companies who sell a full service DRTV experience specific to a genre of product and include magazine ad buys to support “tune in” to the TV spot the produce. DRTV uses buys of time on television to sell a product and now “DRTV” styled campaigns are appearing for free on YouTube.

Email marketing – An aspect of online marketing that uses email, in various forms, to reach a potential customer and links back to a website to sell a product/service. This is considered a form of direct marketing because its results are wholly measurable.

E-marketing – aka online marketing. There are certain schools of thought about selling product online, and it is indeed, an entire world unto itself. Think of e-marketing as another product distribution route, like you might think of choosing retail, wholesale, or creating a product soley for OEM (original equipment manufacturer) distribution. It is still the “wild west” in many regards which make the possibilities truly endless, but in short, all traditional methods of marketing are employed, along with new technologies which can only be made possible on the internet. The success of e-marketing is based on a relationship that falls within and in some cases, games the search process of Google.

Integrated Marketing – this means that different forms of marketing are used together or are inserted into an environment so they appear to be natural to content and not look so much like advertising. A form of integrated marketing are products/services that are “integrated” into a video game, or products that are integrated into a reality TV show. Another example might be simply the addition of a web link integrated into a banner ad. The fact that Tivo made the eradication of TV commercials possibly has made integrated advertising one of the most important trends today. The rise of reality TV is a good example of this, as stand alone advertising is increasingly becoming ineffective because viewers now have a choice about whether they look at it or not.

Gifting suites – Usually held during “awards season,” when the Sundance Film Festival (January), Grammy’s (February), Oscars (March) and Emmys (September) take place, gifting suites take advantage of the time of the year when a plethora of celebrities will be in one place and invite them to sample products in return for “schwag.” Product companies pay for the opportunity to place their product into the physical hands of celebrities, give them product, take photos of them and use the celebrity’s names and photos for their marketing. This is a very cheap and effective way of garnering celebrity credibility for a product without paying for a very expensive celebrity endorsement. There are a handful of companies who do gifting suites, some are much better and reputable than others. 

Guerrilla tactics – Generally a very inexpensive, if not free, creative approach to reach a customer without a formalized approach. A flash mob might be an example of this, or an informal street team descending upon a crowd creating a spectacle to grab attention.

Media introduction salons – Media introduction events are business match-making services that put consumer packaged goods companies in direct contact with reporters from magazines, newspapers, blogs, TV and radio shows.  Produced in a trade show format, media introduction events are designed to showcase products to reporters at the time of the year they specifically need content for their “annual issues” and “roundup stories.”  This form of marketing methodology was created as a cost effective alternative to hiring a PR firm which traditionally charge a monthly retainer with a contractual obligation for a period of time. Media introduction events are beneficial to reporters who each year produce annual “roundup stories” themed to match their news cycle. For example:January, New Year’s resolutions; February, Valentine’s Day gift guides; April, Earth Day; May, Bikini prep season; June, Weddings; July, Summer; September, Back to school; October, Pink products that coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month; December, Holiday gift guides. There are a handful of companies who produce these events; some are better than others. Being that we created Consumer Product Events as the first to present these events all throughout the annual news cycle, we, of course, recommend this one!

Network marketing – This is really a form of a business structure, otherwise known as “multi level marketing.” An example of network marketing are companies like Mary Kay Cosmetics or Jafra. Network marketing is incredibly powerful because by its very nature it is exponential and percentages of profits are passed on as the network grows. 

Networking – is the basis of relationship building, networking can be utilized as part of a marketing mix, but should be a constant in any entrepreneur’s life.  People buy products from people they like. Often they’ll buy products they don’t even need just to support the business of someone they like. Reputation is everything in business. Networking can be done in person by attending professional events, parties, scheduling one on one meetings or online through social networks.

Online marketing – This includes any marketing method used online; a wide spectrum of methods, some of which are online versions of traditional marketing methods and some specific to the web.  This may include search engine optimization, sales funnel marketing, pay per click, banner ads, keywords, video sales letters. Usually, these methods are being quickly created and the technology is being up leveled on a constant basis. 

Pay Per Click – A very direct online marketing method that allows you to control of how much exposure you get and exactly who is clicking on your ads because you only pay when someone clicks. This is a very powerful way to gather intelligence about your customer and what they are looking for on the internet. Once you determine the exact words and phrases they are using on Google to look for a product like yours, you bid on those words, paying anywhere from $1-$5 for a word or phrase and your three line text ads show up when someone searches for those phrases.  This is the most direct method of getting a customer to your website. Pay Per Click (PPC) is available on every major search engine, but it mainly dominated by Google. You can purchase PPC on Facebook and LinkedIn. Tip: use the Google “keyword tool,” it will show you what words you need to use.

PR – There are many synonymous names for PR, publicity, public relations, media relations, but the one thing that differentiates it from all other marketing modalities is that PR is the persuading of the press to report about a product/service. The beauty of PR is the “third party endorsement” that a reporter’s opinion about  product/service which provides the #2 method of marketing power available. PR tends to be very inexpensive for the return of investment and next to trade show investment, the first marketing method startups use to launch a product. Known as an “island of objectivity in a sea of advertising prejudice.”

Professional associations – are important places to be seen and involved. The more involved you are with your industry’s professional associations, the more you are seen as a leader and expert in your field. Professional associations, which sometimes produce an industry’s most influential trade shows, are good places to make announcements and to rally your peers to talk about industry factors that affect your business. 

Promotions – Usually a formally paid-for opportunity, a promotion is a marketing exercise that starts with an incentive and is engineered to engage a customer in a contest, sweepstakes or some kind of activity that generates awareness of a brand.

Referral programs –Using a referral program of any kind is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to market because it uses the recommendation of an existing customer, whose already had a good experience with you to serve as a mouthpiece. The elements of a referral program are based on an incentive. The incentive must be formidable, as large a discount or as shiny of an award as you can possibly muster. Humans are driven by incentive.  I know an e-marketer who actually gives away a Ferrari to his affiliate marketers to get them motivated. He makes so much money on the backend from this program, the car is a drop in the bucket to get them into action. On the internet, there are specific referral programs called “affiliate programs,” which are powerful, formally organized methods to refer business with an incentive attached.

Sales / distribution – Unlike all the other modalities under the marketing umbrella, sales is the only element on this list that is 100% necessary; the others are chosen based on your customer.  

Sampling – A direct experience of getting product into the hands of potential customer. This can be as simple as providing a sample of a coffee in front of a cappuccino shop, food samples in Costco, getting product to magazine stylists who work with celebrities, a free download of a software, sending something in the mail or paying to put your products into a Hollywood celebrity gift bag. The gift bag samplings can be very effective, but don’t provide an opportunity to follow-up with the celebrities who get the product. If you do a sampling with your staff or street team liaising directly with customers, you have an opportunity to gather very valuable feedback from customers.  Gifting suites fall under this category.

Search Engine Optimization – The basic and most important part of online marketing, search engine optimization or “SEO,” are all the tactics used to ensure that your website is found on the internet. Having a website up and not doing SEO is like having a party and forgetting to send invitations; it’s that pivotal. There are many ways of doing SEO and practitioners who will offer certain tactics, which get around firewalls and rules that Google imposes very often. Think of your website as you would a retail store you might have bought on 5th Avenue. It’s your flagship and your customers need to know it exists and how to get there. As the head of a company, don’t pawn this off on junior staff or dubious vendors; it’s your responsibility to be involved with this and stay up on the changes that are made by Google on a regular basis. These rules change so frequently and can be so massive that businesses that been put out of business altogether when Google imposes a change; stay up on it.

Social networking – the primary social networks today are Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, Instagram, Pintrest and LinkedIn, though, the web is home to millions of social networks specific to certain populations. Social networking is powerful, specifically, for its very unique ability to grow virally.

Special events – the creation of a physical event that is produced to create a material experience of a product/service. Typically, special events are used as launch pads for film or retail store openings or brand announcements. Special events are extremely expensive and usually used by a more mature brand to future concentrate loyalty for existing customers. Non profits use special event, often, for central fundraising techniques, though it is expensive as well, usually producing only 10 cents on the spending of every dollar. Publicists often produce special events and they are engineered specifically to draw press coverage.

Trade shows – A close kin to the first listing here of “sales/distribution,” trade shows are one of the primary methods to find distribution by showcasing your product/service in a concentrated environment of specific buyers who are looking for products/services/content for their retail or virtual shelves. Trade shows are often one of the very first marketing methods a start up uses to establish sales and distribution.

Viral marketing – The optimal desired result of online marketing. If an online marketing technique is well constructed, the infrastructure of the internet and social networks, will automatically move a message virally. “Viral videos” are one of the tools used to entertain and be spread virally, but must be produced in a way that is truly interesting without being a commercial. Anything, however, can be spread virally, whether it be a message, photo, video. Through typically considered to be a digital message of some kind, word of mouth messages could be considered a traditional marketing technique of viral marketing.
Word of mouth – The #1 marketing methodology since the dawn of time. Because no consumer ever buys anything without hearing of it first, word of mouth marketing is getting information about something new from a trusted and credible source, whether it be a friend, family members, colleague, celebrity or trusted reporter, is priceless and the pinnacle of the kind of marketing any company can ever hope to achieve – or create.

I don’t know about you, but I just love Richard Branson

You know, Richard Branson, creator of the Virgin brand? The master of entrepreneurialism? The kid who never finished high school? The man who freaks out his bankers every couple of years when he walks in and says, “Hey guys, I need some cash to start an airline…I know I’m in the music business, but I have an idea…” He’s the cat who has created everything from record stores to wedding dresses, airlines to cola beverages.
To me, this guy is the epitome of capitalism. He is courage in the flesh. Pardon my French (well, Spanish, really…), but the man has got cojones.
Anyway…… why is it that a guy like Branson is so successful that he can afford to buy a private island in the Caribbean for his family?

Is there something better about his ideas than yours?

To answer this in the frank words of another one of my favorite cultural icons, Borat – ‘Naht so much…’

When we study guys like Branson, it’s pretty obvious that he’s got a unique brand of fearlessness.

But are his products really so different than anyone elses?

No.

Is it his brand that creates his success?

Partially.

Could it be that his personal love of spectacle has something to do with it?

You’re getting warmer.

If you don’t care about what Branson does and you’re just interested in doing it for yourself, here’s a short cut; go to my PR Handbook for Entrepreneurs. There’s a product there called “How to Write a Press Release” complete with everything you need to actually DO to get something out there that will land you in USA Today, capture the attention of Oprah’s producers, or get you reported about in a place that is read/heard by YOUR particular customer. There are also templates, tools, examples, and a failsafe “big brand” methodology called “How to Contact a Reporter” that goes with it.

So, back to my hero, the indomitable Richard Branson (who I wish weren’t married, but I digress…) So, the guy throws himself off cliffs, floats hot air balloons across oceans. and races with technology to get himself to the moon. Literally.

Does it take that kind of money and bravado to launch a product successfully?

I want you to think about what I’m saying here and start to think backwards:

Iconoclastic CEO in a hot air balloon flies over the Atlantic.
Press from all over the world scramble to see what this nut is up to now.
Oh, by the way, he’s got a new product in the pipeline. Virgin cell phones?
What does that have to do with a hot air balloon?

What is this guy doing?

He’s getting attention.

HE’S SHOUTING LOUDLY.

His antics are creating a high decibel and magnetic broadcast.

Right?

Sprint, Motorola, Verizon…they’re all doing cell phones. What’s so special about Virgin phones?

Nothing!

But the reason why he’s CREATING success is because he is SHOUTING LOUDER THAN HIS COMPETITORS.

Now, to be honest, I don’t know if his cell phone business took off or not. And it doesn’t matter because his other product launches have well made up for the dogs.

I’ve met many entrepreneurs over the years. And, like Branson, the ones who succeed are the ones who shout the loudest. Pure and simple.

It’s NOT ABOUT having the best product.

Your product could be vastly inferior to the competition, but if you have a big mouth and put your focus on letting your customers know about it, you win. Hands down.

When I first started my PR agency 12 years ago, a semi-famous party planner named Colin Cowie asked me to do PR for him. Actually it was because Colin asked me this that I started my company (I am forever indebted to you Mr. Cowie!)… As a result, I have had several famous companies in this party planning genre come to my doorstep. One of them was the “Epicurean Spielberg,” Along Came Mary Event Productions in Los Angeles. They were massively well known. They’d been around for 30 years and their client list boasted every film studio, every major movie premiere, and folks like Coca Cola and Dom Perignon. One day, my client called saying, “I’m looking at Los Angeles Magazine and there is a 3-page article – with color photos – of some party planner I’ve never heard of. Why aren’t we in there?”

The article turned out to be about a newcomer named Alana Baroni. Although she was new, she’d written a book about entertaining and that was what got the magazine to report about her.

I’d been diligently working with Along Came Mary to get a book done so that the company had something “new” for the press to report about, but it was stuck in the pipeline and just never saw the light of day.

Alana Baroni didn’t have the venerability, the credibility, the clients – anything even close to competing with Along Came Mary, but she was speaking more LOUDLY than her competitor. She DID have a marketing tool and it was getting attention.

She wasn’t necessarily any better than Along Came Mary, but because she had this “new” product, she became “news-worthy.” And so the “news” reported about her.

And, that’s what Branson does. He launches a “new” product. He creates some outrageous stunt that becomes “news-worthy” and the attention that comes of this is directed back to his product.

He’s shouting loudly.

Got it?

So, it doesn’t matter if you have a sexy product like these entrepreneurs do, what matters is that you SHOUT LOUDLY.

Start by writing a press release and get one out to the press on a regular basis. Once a month would be fantastic. This template will ask you the questions that you need to cull from your product that makes it “news-worthy.”

Next time you’re with your friends sharing a glass of wine over a meal, ask their opinions about your product.

Create a think tank over dinner.

Ask them what they think is interesting about your product and write a press release about each of those aspects and get them out to the press.

Oh, by the way, there is a gestalt, of course, on WHERE you send the press release.

Your product might best be reported about in Investors Business Daily, Scientific American or the Real Estate section of the Houston Chronicle (instead of Oprah or TIME magazine), so the PR Handbook for Entrepreneurs can answer that question. Look for “How to Contact a Reporter” and “The Mechanics of Publicity” and you’ll be getting the straight dope on how I did this for companies like Mrs. Fields Cookies, Swatch, Champagne Mumm, and even the Grammys.

One other little tip: If you visit http://prhandbookforentrepreneurs.com/product/, you can get FREE press lists. Yup. Check it out.

Until next time… have a successful day.

I’m leaving for a backpacking trip in the Sierras today. And, as you are reading this, I’m probably lapping water from the side of a pristine lake at 11,000 feet, while my dog digs wildly for marmots. Not quite an island in the Caribbean, but it makes me happy. ☺

Your friend in entrepreneurialism,

Alyson

p.s. I know this diatribe was titled “Truths on Why Products Fail…” but this is a lesson in getting attention. Were you more attracted by the negative of “failing?” Or the positive of Richard Branson? Which did I put first? And what did I focus on in this newsletter? I never talked about the failing, because it’s obvious that if you DON’T do what I’m suggesting… oh, I can’t even say it. Gotta go.

Why Time Magazine Will Never Report About You

Have you ever heard that the definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over again… yet expecting a different result?

Last night, I was introduced to a fascinating doctor. He was a “neurological chiropractor.” Over dinner (and a killer bottle of Italian 2004 Cabernet Franc called La Regola!) he explained the physical and neurological reasons why humans have a propensity to do the same things over and over again.  

This information is pivotal to entrepreneurs who, like you, are motivated and struggling to get over humps and breakthrough to the success you’ve been dreaming of.  

Dr. Gerry’s insights will not only change how you think about your business, but well – just about anything in life that you wish for, but still eludes you.

So without geeking out here… Did you know that the whole body is filled with nerves that are split up into little segments that fire end to end to each other?  It’s like a telephone, cup and wire system that is charged with chemical electricity that jumps from one segment to the next and so on down the line. 

He explained that repetitive thoughts and actions create nerves to fire in the exact same patterns that over time begin to “plasticize” and attach to one another. 

In other words, the danger (or beauty) of entertaining the same thoughts and taking the same actions over and over again, causes the nerves to lose the flexibility of their youth and become hardened and attached to one another.

It’s kinda like nerve rigor mortis.

Crazy, huh?

Uh, yeah, exactly (pardon the pun). 

So – you might be wondering what Dr. Gerry’s neurological insights have to do with your own sanity or insanity –

As an entrepreneur with a product to sell, you’ve probably tried a whole bunch of marketing schemes, from buying very expensive magazine ads to getting your business cards attached to gas pumps.  

Maybe you wasted your money buying those silly coupons that everyone throws in the trashcan before they even open the mail? Did you get your photo put up in a slide in the local movie theatre? 

How did it all work out for you?

Yeah, I feel your pain. It hurts to even think about it.

Here’s the deal:

If you don’t try something different, things will remain the same. 

Pretty simple, but profound stuff. 

Even Led Zeppelin said it, for Chrissakes: “The Song Remains the Same”!  How could you dispute Robert Plant? Just kidding… but not really.

Here is something you can do that is radically different and is the most cost-effective marketing method in the world:

It’s called “PR” and it could massively move sales of your product by getting it seen by more millions of people at once.

In other words, if you were reported about in TIME magazine, which is read by 2.5 million people, that would be some pretty serious exposure for you, wouldn’t it?

Whoa.

Does Walmart even HAVE that many shoppers in one day?

I’m not sure, but if you have your product in Walmart already you’re probably not reading this right now.  

So you could keep listening to every advertising sales person that calls you with some cockamamie idea. And, you’d be doing the same thing over and over again, plasticizing your brain nerves and worse yet, not affecting your sales or the growth of your company. 

Are you crazy?

Yeah, I’d say so.

If you want to cut to the chase and learn how to re-pattern your marketing into something that actually helps your business (and keeps your brain nerves freely clicking along), then click here.

For those of you who didn’t click above and still want to understand why you’re slightly insane… just know this: 

If you keep going down this road, not only are you going to spend a whole lot of cash for nothing, but you will NEVER get a call from TIME magazine (or for that matter, the New York Times, Oprah, or any magazine, newspaper, TV, or radio show that is seen/heard by your customer).

Here’s the good news: your customer is out there. 

They are waiting to hear what your product does that solves their problem. 

There are many of them and they have their credit cards in their hands right now.

There are enough customers for you to actually create a full time income, and maybe hire a staff, grow a company, buy your dream home, and retire with lots of dollars to keep you living pretty for many years. 

Marketing is the art of getting your product into the hands of your customer. There are MANY ways to do that:

The “marketing umbrella” includes:

Advertising

Sales

Special Events

Sampling

PR

Promotions

Direct Mail

Product Placement

Celebrity Endorsement

And much, much more.

Most new businesses need to find the most direct, cost-effective, and least risky way to market their products. 

Of all the things listed above, the most cost-effective and the most effective is PR.

Why is that?

Well, it’s a long story, but one worth learning.

People buy things because they either WANT or NEED them.

As a seller, you have the best chance of selling to them when they NEED it.  

Getting a customer emotionally connected to why they need it helps. 

However, when your product is credible to your customer, that is the tipping point. It’s the difference between a customer stopping in the aisle for a moment, and a customer actually picking up the product and heading straight for the check-out counter (or shopping cart, if you’re an online product).

Why is credibility important?

Well, here’s where the story comes in…

The #1 marketing method in the history of mankind is called “word of mouth.” 

This means that if someone you respect recommends a certain sushi bar or a brand of running shoes, when you are next looking for sushi or runners you will most likely take their recommendation.  

The more respect you have for them in the area of sushi expertise and running shoes will heighten their recommendation in your mind.

So, anything you can do to create “word of mouth” recommendations from credible sources is the secret marketing weapon.

The #2 most valuable marketing method is called “3rd party endorsement.” 

This is a reporter’s opinion about a product.  

Though the reporter is not as credible as your sushi nut friend or running expert, the restaurant critic or the sports reporter’s opinion about the same sushi bar or runners will have an important effect on a shopping decision.

Are you wondering how this differs from advertising?

Consumers these days know that an advertiser pays for space and can say whatever they want. Consumers are savvy and sense that an ad is 100% subjective.  

By the way, this wasn’t always the case. As early as the 1950’s, ads were highly influential, especially on TV and radio, which were relatively new.  We lived in a less jaded world and the relationship between seller and buyer was friendly (there were also only 2 brands of toothpaste vying for a customer’s attention as opposed to 50 today).

No one likes to “be sold.” 

Buyers want to buy because it’s THEIR decision, not the result of being brow-beaten or cajoled into something.

Today, the competition to sell anything is STIFF and the relationship between seller and buyer is has turned downright nasty. 

This means that getting your customer’s attention is no easy task. 

It means that if a door-to-door salesman rang your doorbell, you’d have a gun cocked before you’d ever think about opening the door and inviting them in for a cup o’ joe to show you their stuff.

Right? Come on, admit it.

This seller-customer relationship is extremely important to consider if you expect to sell anything. 

The beauty of PR is that it provides that “3rd party endorsement” every time you are reported about.  You could spend as little as $39.99 on the PR Handbook for Entrepreneurs that will result in hundreds, if not thousands, of reports on your product.  If you bought just ONE page in Vogue magazine, for only one month, you’d be spending approximately $290,000. 

You do the math.  

Go to here and get started.

But if you are STILL curious about why you are slightly crazy, keep reading –

When a magazine, newspaper, TV station, or radio outlet reports about something, it’s the next best thing to “word of mouth” – it’s a reporter’s personal or professional opinion. 

Consumers trust this and it provides automatic credibility in a way that advertising CANNOT DO.

Advertising puts consumers on the defensive. They are suspicious of “being sold.”

Publicity is non-partisan. It’s purely informational, and provides a reporter’s balanced opinion about a product. That way a consumer feels free to make their own decision. They learn about the inspiration for a product, how it works, and why it benefits them in an objective way.

Laura and Chuck Ries wrote a great book called The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR. In it, there is a quote that sums it all up:

“PR is an island of objectivity in a sea of advertising prejudice.”

‘Nuff said.

Maybe you’re an entrepreneur who has heard of PR and were having a fantasy that your product was so incredibly cool that one day the phone would just ring and someone would say, “Hi this is Rebecca Keegan from TIME magazine; I’d like to do a story on you.”

You could die first.

And worse yet, your nerves will all be stuck together thinking the same thing over and over again, which is probably something like:

“Should I spend the $10,000 on the TV spot and will anyone be watching it at 2 a.m.?” 

or 

“I wonder if it’s worth taking out a loan to pay for the $260,000 one-month, one-page ad in Vogue magazine? “ 

or 

“When will the $5,000 investment in the regional couponing pay for itself?”

Yuck.

Not pretty thoughts.

And of course, there’s nothing worse than dying with all your demons taunting you on the way out. 

Not my idea of a good exit.

So, in short, heed Dr. Gerry’s advice: don’t let your brain nerves stick together. 

Do something different. 

Do something smart, cost effective, and what other entrepreneurs who are making money do: go to the PR Handbook for Entrepreneurs and get started!

Why Your Competitors Products Was TV and You Weren’t

Are you ever wondering why your competitor’s product got on the local morning show and yours didn’t?

Have you ever opened up a magazine and seen a 2-page profile (with a picture!) about someone in your industry who you’ve never heard of? 

Did you say to yourself, “their product isn’t even close to as good as mine!” or “How are they getting this kind attention?“ or “Yipes; I don’t get it!”

This is a tough one; it seems like a big blow.

The funny thing is that the reason why they got the publicity and you didn’t has nothing to do with how good your product is.  

And for that matter, it had nothing to do with how good THEIR product is.

The fact that your product is better also has nothing to do with your competitor getting the press attention.

The good news is that next time it CAN and should be you.  It’s not rocket science and you can do it yourself. The scoop is at www.prhandbookforentrepreneurs.com

This book – which you can buy in separate specific chapters with tools you can put to practical use today  – are the braindump of my 20 + year career launching new products for brands you know….everyone from Mrs. Fields Cookies to Swatch, Champagne Mumm and lots of other products.  

But let’s get back to what happened:

Have you ever heard the old adage: “the one with the loudest voice wins?”

I’m here to say that’s 1000% true.  I’ve worked with some of the best in their industries….

and some who just have good stories and the time and fortitude to tell the world about themselves.  

Their products aren’t always any better than the next one.

Did you know that the local morning TV show, the newspaper, radio programs and magazines are actually LOOKING for stories to report about?  

It is entirely possible — and I do this for a living, so I really know — that you can pick up the phone right now to the local TV station and get your product reported about too.  

The reason why they got the press to sit up and take notice is because they made more noise than you did. 

It’s really as simple as that.

How does this happen? 

By just picking up the phone and suggesting a story that you think will interest their viewers and has something to do with your product.

It’s really that easy.

And, you don’t need to hire an expensive PR firm yet to do this for you; you can do it yourself.  Go here to get the scoop and become your own best PR agent:

www.prhandbookforentrepreneurs.com

In the meantime, here’s what you can do now. 

I’m going to give you a few tips that you should hold on to and can put into practice immediately.  

First of all, identify the TV program that you really want to be on.

Watch it everyday.

Look for segments on the show that report about subjects where you think your product might fit.  

For example, if your product is something that appeals to a traveler, you might note that Peter Greenberg does a regular segment on The Today Show. He reports about “finds” and products and services that make traveling easier, more interesting, less fattening, or cheaper.  

While you’re watching the show, notice that the reportage happens within the context of a story, a trend or a subject matter. The products Peter is talking about are talked about as they RELATE to that story.  

This is important. 

The thing to notice here is that the story isn’t about the product itself, but the product as it fits into a relevant story.  

Listen to the way the reporter talks about the products. Write down the introductory sentences he/she makes about products. Those are ostensibly “headlines.” 

Now, think about your product. 

Who are your customers?

What specific benefit does your product provide to them?

What “pain” does your product solve for your customer?

Now, using the travel example, think of a context where your product might fit, such as 

“summer family travel season, “ 

“spring break for college kids” or 

“winter holiday alternatives.” 

Does your product benefit fit into this context somehow? If your product is a luggage pre-delivery service, could you pitch a story about how families can save money sending their luggage ahead because it’s cheaper than the new airline luggage charges? 

Could you build a story out of how your service is perfect for destination wedding parties who have to have their stuff there on a deadline and your service solves the anguish of losing luggage by the airlines? 

Uh huh. 

Get it?

OK, so now write a one paragraph pitch about your product within the context of a subject.

Start with a pithy statement or a question in the form of a headline. This “spoon feeds” a journalist with a story idea that they don’t have to think too much about engineering themselves. 

Reporters are very busy, and their priorities and ability to be creative are dictated by deadlines.

So, anything you can do to make it easier for them increases your chance of getting reported about.

Here are some fun pitches I’ve written lately for clients that will give you an example of format I’m talking about:

Naked male blow up dolls.  

Too much bubbly. 

Hot women in limos.

On the corner of Highland and Melrose in the new Martel Lofts, a not-so-underground “party central” is ringleading debaucherous bachelorette parties in every city in the US; every weekend.

Chief amongst them is comedienne Pamela Yager, Founder of Brides Night Out (www.bridesnightout.com).  Her national bachelorette planning service is blowing the doors off of what any maid of honor thinks she can do. 

A “modern Mary Kay of Bachelorette Party Planning,” the company also provides party planning consultant careers in frivolity.

Sound like fun to report?

Here’s another one:

They’re hot.  

They’re smart. 

They work for Batali, Fraser and Myers.

They can tell the difference between an Austrian or Washington Riesling with a sniff.

They’re all under 35.

On May 22nd in Culver City, Wine & Spirits magazine (www.wineandspiritsmagazine.com) will introduce 10 of the city’s brightest young wine experts to a Gen Y group of wine lovers.  

The “Coachella of Wine Events,” the uber hip Project Ethos (www.projectethos.com) will spin a loungey vibe while the magazine’s ‘Hot Picks’ wines from all over the world are presented.

There’ll even be a taco truck.

Have we whet your appétit to attend or report?

OK, now Google Peter Greenberg or whatever journalist you think should report about your product. 

OK, ok……Peter is a friend of mine, here’s where you can reach him: www.petergreenberg.com, mastertrav@aol.com. Tell him I sent you….

Anyway…..

Call them and leave the first few lines of your pitch on their voicemail with your name and return phone number. Email the pitch to them. 

DO NOT send any attachments. Just a simple, easy to ready AND SHORT pitch. 

The idea is to prick up a reporter’s ears and get THEM to report. 

Don’t give them the whole enchilada.

Keep it bloody short, ok? 

No one has time to read the constitution. 

Simple. Sweet. Fun. 

Capture their attention; you can tell them all about it later.

Now, you need to keep calling that reporter until you get them on the phone. 

You need to make sure it’s the right reporter.  So, do everything in your power to get a live person on the line. 

There are times of the day that certain journalists will be reachable and times they are on deadline and don’t want to talk with you.

In TV land, it depends upon whether it’s a daily network show or a cable show. Their production schedules are very different.  

In my book, I’ve made a list of all the kinds of journalists you will encounter and what their deadlines are; how to reach them and the best time to pitch your story.

You can find it by going to www.prhandbookforentrepreneurs.com.

But for now, let’s use The Today Show as an example of a daily, short lead TV show. 

They plan their shows anywhere from a month to a week in advance.  

Reporters like Peter Greenberg, those who give special reports, are not on staff, but are freelancers.  You have to track them down, pitch them and they in turn will pitch their producers at the show. 

By the way, if you’re feeling like you can’t do this, or are thinking:

“I don’t know how to pitch myself’

or

“I need someone else to see me and my product objectively”

Stop it.

Just get on the phone and do it. 

What’s the worst thing that can happen? 

They tell you to jump in a lake? 

Big deal. 

Actually………..I have this funny little trick that I teach my young staff and it goes like this:

“the only reason why you are afraid  or intimidated by someone is because YOU THINK they know more than you do.” 

Uh, yeah, and that might be case, but who cares? You probably know more about something else than they do . 

So there.

If you ever become intimidated, just picture them sitting in the bathroom; it levels the playing field……

The truth is: journalists LOVE to hear directly from entrepreneurs. 

It makes them feel like they are getting a “scoop” straight ‘from the source.”

So……………now you can’t complain that your competitor “got on that show” and you didn’t.

Go make it happen!

Talk to you soon.  

Keep taking steps toward your success. 

Smile. 

Have faith. 

It’s going to happen.

To Your Success,

Alyson

©2008 Brown + Dutch Public Relations, Inc., All Rights Reserved. If you wish to unsubscribe, please click (here) or send mail to “PR Handbook for Entrepreneurs” P. O. Box 1193, Malibu, CA   90265.