The importance of making strategic contacts is fundamental to success – particularly when expanding into new territory. Relationships facilitate market penetration, assist in identifying new audiences, and measuring product performance. Partnerships can be formal or informal and require different levels of commitment in order to keep the relationship beneficial.
Rahul Samant CEO of Rehabtronics told us that… “it’s very critical to establish strong sales and distribution channels as well as relationships with key opinion leaders”. Cindy Collins founder of Mining Technology Partners noted relationships are …” huge and the focus of [her] company. [They] put providers together with contacts in Mexico and help them with distribution or [creating a] sales network. Not only this, but to find references and the who’s who of using your products… this industry [mining] is very dependent on the usual early adopters. We are often asked for who is using our customers’ products, especially for the more innovative or game changing products” . Alejandro Godoy founder of Seafood Business Solutionshighlighted “…it is very important to develop relationships with key decision makers, specialty seafood buyers in new markets.”Carlos Escobosa Commercial and Administrative Director of The Residences at Solaz observed that “contacts in target markets offer a direct line to what consumers in those markets want, and most importantly, how to reach them in a cost-efficient way”.
Sinclair and Ruiz coordinated a multi-year effort to draw real estate investment (from developers as well as consumers) to a beach destination.Our client was a co-op made up of various stakeholders including the Mexico Tourism Board, a state government, and a developers association. The targeted $1.4 million USD campaign focused on Canadian provinces from B.C to Ontario; as well as the American west coast states, Nevada, Ohio, Colorado and Texas. After the initial cycle of brand awareness, the percentage of registered leads generated by the marketing initiatives grew by 300%, participation in information and promotional events across Canada grew by 38 %. By the campaign’s third year, the number of Canadian travelers to the destination – mainly Baby Boomers- grew by 30%. Furthermore, at a national level the destination rose from 11th place to 4th place among tourist destinations in terms of real estate investment. Residential real estate sales to Canadian investors totaled over $300 million USD over the three years of campaign implementation. Marketing efforts included multi- media advertising, public relations, and network building.
Advertising and public relations are both different and integral parts of the marketing whole. However, there are plenty of people who take sides and passionately believe in one over the other. For example, the anti- PR camp may agree with the statement in a recent article that “…Anyone who announces anything is a fool because nobody cares unless they’re Apple or Google…[and] many people still don’t get that public relations is no longer public relations. By many people, I don’t mean just PR people: I mean the companies that hire them and demand they do it a certain, familiar way.” On the other hand, I’ve also heard executives say they stay away from advertising because they don’t believe it is effective. For them the best and only valuable promotional strategy is to earn media coverage.
Public Relations includes much more than press releases and media coverage. PR also includes creating networks (not limited to virtual ones), hosting events, participating in trade shows, corresponding with existing and potential clients, and of course social or new media. The right balance and ensuring your message is directed to the correct audience should result in interest and therefore people caring about what you have to say.
In the case of social or new media, its applications are still in the development phase and currently change. The phenomenon has created much excitement in the PR camp. Yet, not everyone is enthusiastic about the challenges new media represents. As the head of a well established PR company closing its doors explained “…Ad firms are having mixed success with their early forays… and jumping in because their clients expect it…” while on the other hand “Companies have no budget line for this. They don’t know how to measure it. They struggle with balance between responding to customers, over-compensating small issues, or being too ‘corporate’ in their responses. There is no measurement tools that make me go, ‘Snap!!’ that’s who is listening to us.”
It is important to recognize that social media opens the door to endless possibilities. The key is not to become consumed by the options, and as with any strategy, stick to a plan that reaches the company’s objectives. Also, don’t forget that social networks are not limited to Facebook and Twitter. Networks are formed through business, partnerships, and memberships. The main goal of PR is to get people talking about you according to the image you want to portray – one that encourages people to become clients.
Common comments from those who do not like advertising often mention that a) they prefer not to pay for coverage if they can get it for free and b) that people believe what the media says more than what advertisers say. It is important to take into consideration that earned media does not guarantee full control of the message nor does it control exact timing. In addition, it is up to the company to transmit the right message through their advertising and make the necessary information available to people researching the product in order to satisfy consumers. An ad can include specific information and calls to action that may not be conveyed in earned media. In addition ads can be repeated frequently to maintain the message current while- for example- a columnist is not likely to write about your company 3 times a week for an entire month repeating your message. In fact, even Apple – a company that earns more media attention than most- resorts to advertising to communicate specific information about their products.
The use of Advertising and PR requires a balance that depends on the company, its goals and the situation. An integral and effective campaign should implement both in a complementary way, especially as people choose multiple media through which to research products. The balance may shift according to the needs of the company and must adjust to new developments. The most important element is to know what you want to achieve and have a clear plan as to how you will achieve it.
Contact us to learn how Sinclair and Ruiz can help design the right strategy and balance for your business.