by Tammy de Leeuw
Blender of Marketing Cocktails
For better or worse and it spite of our best efforts to remain "intellectually aloof," we just can't stop our brains from reacting to signs, symbols, and slogans.
Study after study proves that, like it or not, humans unconsciously react to the familiar logos and taglines we see hundreds of times each day.
No matter how much we try and control it, our brains tend to link pleasurable or profitable experiences with familiar visuals.
For example, my late grandmother was an avid Coca Cola drinker. (yuck!)
I seldom saw her without a Coke in her hand, or a couple of cases of the stuff in the kitchen. Now, many years later, I find myself thinking of her whenever I see the Coke logo... and I can't help it.
Advertisers know this. They spend millions ensuring that their products make their way into your favorite movies and television programs because they know your brain will link the film you enjoy with whatever product the protagonist was consuming for breakfast. Tom Cruise isn't swilling a certain brand of orange juice for his health, you know.
Companies also trip over themselves to secure ad space on NASCARS, driver suits, helmets, steering wheels...anywhere a logo sticker can be plastered. They aren't doing this out of kindness or from a love of racing. They know that it WORKS.
Tons of books and articles have been written on this topic and you should check them out when you get a chance. It's pretty fascinating stuff and it can really help you craft a message that speaks to your unique audience or identifies your product or service with warm, fuzzy, positive experiences.
But, I've been told that "branding" is a waste of time and money. In fact, Tammy, YOU have said that!
You're right. I have said on many occasions that branding yourself like Coke or Nike is a huge waste of your marketing budget. Most of us don't have nearly the millions it takes to establish and maintain a brand that sticks in the deepest recesses of the brain.
However, there are some inexpensive and effective ways you can ASSOCIATE yourself with top brands and piggyback off their success.
For instance, if you have a large mailing list or social media network, you could become an affiliate partner with a major company or celebrity. Affiliate networks are all over the internet and a surprising number of corporations have affiliate and joint venture programs. This means you could promote popular products using a banner or logo on your website and become "linked" with them in the minds of your readers.
This kind of association is what creates the feelings of reciprocity and loyalty that NASCAR sponsors have come to value. "Tide sponsors my favorite driver, therefore I should buy Tide."
You could also advertise your product or service during a popular television or radio program or on the blog or podcast of a celebrity. For example, you could find the local Dr. Phil broadcast or Hannity or Alex Jones podcast and buy ad space. Playing your ads over and over on these programs links you to them in the minds of listeners.
The least expensive, and often most effective way to bypass the "croc brain" and cause your audience to perceive you as a trusted authority, is through the use of "media citations."
These are popping up all over the internet, especially on financial, insurance, and consulting websites.
Most media citations, contrary to what you may think, are legitimate and are acquired in a variety of ways such as:
1.Being an invited guest. Nothing gives cred quite like "As seen on Oprah." This is the hardest way to earn a media badge, but probably the coolest. You generally need to hire a full time media coach to get you on a major network show, which can cost $5,000 or more.
2. Becoming a sponsor. Many programs allow their sponsors to use the show logo on their websites and collateral. This is good for the program and... good for you. Depending on which geographic area you are targeting and the ratings of your chosen program, you could easily spend $10,000 or more a month.
3. Writing a press release and sending it out . This takes a tremendous amount of time and effort.. but it can work. You will have to write the release yourself (not as easy as it sounds), find a list of media contacts and their emails, and send it out. And, most important of all, you will need to follow up...and follow up...and follow up until an outlet decides to publish your release. It may take up to six months of frustration before anyone pays attention to your release. Even then, the major news outlets will probably ignore it. Remember: One CBS "eye" is worth ten thousand mentions in the Baltimore Daily Shopper.
The best option for some of you, in my opinion, is the lowest cost option: Purchase a PR campaign from an established agency and let them do all the work. Most campaigns include a custom press release and submission to hundreds of top tier news outlets with whom they have relationships.
The usual cost for this is anywhere from $1,000 and up. However, if any of you are interested, I know a way to get your press release written and distributed to as many as 1,200 outlets for under $500!
This is not for everyone. The agency with whom I partner only wants people who have something to say, unusual and useful products or services, movies, books, live tours, etc.
Don't expect to be able to use them if all you are doing is shameless self-promotion. You need to be able to say something that adds value, is a little "contrarian," or benefits mankind.
In other words, doing or saying something that is different and exciting or controversial will go a long way in getting the attention of the media.
If this describes you, then give me a call or shoot me an email. As I said, this won't work if what you have is the same old same old. It's great, though, for those of you who have something out of the ordinary to contribute.