July 26, 2006

Creating Demand

ONE CAN ALWAYS LEARN...A long-time account (mfrs. of electrical control equipment) said "let's check the magazine list you're using...many of the inquiries we're getting are not right for us." As we always work for broadest coverage, we thought he meant some of the lesser electrical or trade publications.

IMAGINE OUR SURPRISE...when he added, "that story in BLANK is bringing letters from retailers all over the country for more info on our store-lighting controls." He continued, "we don't sell direct; we're interested only in inquiries from engineers and electrical contractors, who specify or install the units. These user inquiries are too much for us to handle."

EVERYTHING ISN'T OBVIOUS...We explained that by building consumer demand, sales were developed for contractors and wholesalers. Getting the story to the trade was fine, but getting it to the eventual user too was the way to move equipment out of the warehouse, off the shelves.

CHANGE YOUR SYSTEM...was our advice. Don't look to cut down inquiries. Prepare a simple "consumer reply" form, with product information and the name of the nearest distributor. Then too, forward inquiry lists to area dealers. Show them how you back them with result-producing promotion.

DOUBLE MORAL...This little tale bears out the fact that what may be standard procedure for A can be a new concept to B. We think it shows too that good publicity is truly plus-profit publicity.

May 1957

Eric's note: Today, Dad would be making the same suggestion, but with the response mechanism using the web and perhaps a bit more self service -- lead the prospect to your site and let him find a/more product info and b/the dealer or distributor in his area.

July 22, 2006

Cheesecake is for Bakeries

There's no question but that we all enjoy leg art, a well-filled sweater, some cleavage. But that's no excuse for making them the strongest points, the only assets, of a product publicity picture. Fine for Hollywood, this type of shot should be the very last on your production schedule...if used at all.

DON'T SUBSTITUTE SEX FOR THINKING...Publicity is not a space-grabbing operation. While it may be easier for a certain breed of "publicist" to place a story of an Army camp reception for "Miss Ground Valve" than one on the Ground Valve Co.'s service to industry, it certainly isn't as productive a story. In contrived cheesecake set-ups, there's seldom any real gain to the client. All too often, even the company name gets lost in the shuffle, and only the "publicist" and the client, who paid and paid, know the company name involved.

SELL YOUR PICTURES AS NEWS...It's what the product does, how it's used, that's news; not the long-legged gal in the picture. If you do use cheesecake...expose the product as well as the model. A bathing suit shot, for example, can leave readers with the knowledge that the girl is using your portable cooler, not just sunning herself on the beach. Give the picture a reason for being; as always, use the model to highlight the product rather than as a distraction.

April 1957

Man Bites Dog

We've just sent a check to a client!

REALLY PLUS-PROFIT FOR HIM...In publicizing his product, we got him a "break" many seek but never achieve...a full-page feature in Mechanix Illustrated. Featured as the month's "Bright Idea," the M.I. story will boom his sales. And here's the extra...M.I. awards a $50 prize to the manufacturer of any product good enough to make the feature page.

HOW TO USE IT...When we forwarded the magazine's check to the client, we recommended that it be applied to the purchase of reprints of the feature. Used in direct mail and at point-of-purchase...it's another way to merchandise publicity.

November 1956

Demo Problems before the PC

Eric's note: This article from 1963 pre-dates the personal computer, but the message still resonates.

A BAD DAY ALL AROUND...was the headline in a business page story which told of gremlins creeping into a press review. The story related how the company, with appropriate fanfare, "cordially" invited about 100 guests "to attend the premiere demonstration" of its dry office copier, but the promotional build-up sagged into anti-climax when the machine, billed as the "industry's most advanced," failed to work. A red-faced press agent explained that the machine had "worked perfectly" before the demonstration. He blamed it all on a guest who inadvertently jammed a piece of onion skin paper into the back of the copier and somehow interfered with the normal workings if its electric ganglia. Still another perspiring spokesman explained that the machine had been transported from Toronto in a station wagon and suggested that some of its parts had been unduly jarred.

THE NEED FOR CHECKING...and rechecking of equipment, electrical outlets when needed, and all other facilities important to a press showing of a product cannot be over-emphasized. But even when the publicist checks, as this one evidently had since he said it "worked perfectly," companies are often at fault in rushing the introduction of models that are no more than prototypes. Pre-production units should be at operating perfection -- and with a product such as this, there should be stand-by units.

June 1963

Come Back, Little Give-Away

Eric's note: This article is about product giveaways on game and other TV shows.

A current question is, "How good are merchandise give-aways?" The answer lies in the handling. Too many ad agencies and p.r. men have misused the method. They've taken this single facet of an overall promotion and called it a complete campaign.

WHERE AGENCIES GO WRONG...They arrange a give-away for a small account and feel they're doing a full publicity job for him. Actually, give-away campaigns can be of value only if they're part and parcel of an overall program. By themselves, they're invariably a waste of merchandise, money and effort.

WHEN TO USE GIVE-AWAYS...They're for the manufacturer with distribution on a national (or almost national) scale, who still can't afford his own air-time. If the product is advertised in other media, and if there is a working product publicity program in effect, to consumer and trade, then you may safely add the give-away phase and hope for good results.

HOW TO DO IT...Use shows only in areas where you have distribution. Supply local retailers with window streamers, counter cards, newspaper mats, to tie-in store with product "as seen on." Don't rely on the 25-word air plug...help promote the show to the public; in return, it will build interest in your product.

October 1956

Publicity as a Research Tool

Publicity takes on new value to the ad agency and its clients as a tool of market research. We've discovered this additional function of the "new product" publicity campaign and advocate it especially for the account whose budget does not run to complicated market surveys.

HERE'S WHY...Major manufacturers can make sizeable investments in product introduction to the trade using many methods; the John Doe Co., however, has only X dollars with which to advertise its new widget. The question publicity now can answer is: where to spend those X dollars most advantageously?

HERE'S HOW...Conduct a horizontal "new product" campaign for the widget. Don't be content with a news release to one or two publications in a single field. Broaden your publicity horizon by testing it in all editorial columns which bear upon the field. As an instance...the widget is considered to be a chain store item. Test it, too, in hardware, houseware, premium and mail order trade publications.

HOW TO USE THE TEST...Editorial acceptance is the first factor; poor response from editors in a categoric field indicates a poor potential market. Then, tally resultant inquiries and sales from various fields. Compare results from categoric markets and determine which books in each field pulled the highest return.

HOW YOUR CLIENT BENEFITS...Publicity not only serves to open new markets, but shows where to best spend future ad dollars. It helps you to make the most of his budget; helps him to use it in prime markets.

September 1956