What makes you think that putting a quarter page ad in a local magazine still works?! A few short years ago everything changed in the marketing world. How we communicate changed. Modern marketing and branding did a complete 180. The real “brand” of a company became fluid, like a school of fish avoiding a predator in an elaborate dance in the deep ocean.  Everything you were ever told in college about advertising and marketing became distorted, seemingly overnight. Well, most of everything…(I’ll explain later). Those that don’t get it by now, stink. You see I don’t expect everyone to “get it” and understand the complexity in what happen, it’s those that don’t realize or even recognize it happened. Why? Their living in it with the rest of us, and using these same tools that’s why!! I’m not saying you have to be an expert on marketing or communications or anything of the sorts, but when was the last time you built a relationship, bought something, or found an answer to a question you were looking for in an ad on a quarter page of some cheesy socialite local publication?! Yeah! Mean either!!  Never have actually. It’s not the method itself I have a problem with, it’s the purpose behind it and HOW it’s being used. How about expecting YOUR audience to watch the local news on channel 5 and wait till 5:17pm till your 25 second spot airs? NOT going to happen! Again, it’s not the tactic, it the purpose and the expectations that are set within that singular tactic. The term “public relations” or should I say the “tactics” used in public relations are far different than they were just 5 short years ago. YouTube is now a PR tactic, so is twitter and even a podcast on your website. I mean, it’s still “public” and its still “relations” right? Remember, the end goal is NOT to get on TV or in a magazine…it’s to get in front your audience to drive revenue! 

First and foremost, you have to understand “WHY” people LOVE you or your product or service to begin with, assuming you’ve been in business long enough to get a customer. No matter what platform you’re using to reach your customers you must have a great “story” or stand for something larger than just another “flippin” company selling some stupid “gizmo”. I mean really, if you stink, you’re still going to stink on YouTube! Now you can just stink in front of more people…and then they can tell others faster how much you suck! Got it?! Oh…and, if you suck and are NOT on YouTube, guess what?! Others can still say YOU suck on YouTube and YOU can’t be there to defend yourself…because you failed to get a YouTube channel! Geeeeez, that’s pretty harsh isn’t it?! Well, that’s the world we live in…and it’s only getting worse, so get used to it! What’s my point? Your brand or company is no longer in control. You see the consumers are in control now. They determine, when and how they want to communicate with you. They determine who and how many people they want to talk to about YOU (good or bad), what they want to hear from you and what information they need to make a decision to buy. What matters here isn’t the fact they do all this, because consumers have always “done this”. It’s the speed and volume in which it happens. They can spread a message faster to more people now than ever. You’re one bad twitter feed away from you losing your ass! One bad blog away from scrapping a multimillion dollar advertising campaign that your top ego in charge developed out of the genius of his own mind. I know, CRAZY, but true!! How do you control “it” (your brand, your message, the future of your company)? What’s your story? Really, what’s your story and answering WHY you’re in business to begin with will tell you where to be, what to say and how to say it, even who to say it to.

Texas Star Pharmacy – in Plano, Texas is a client of mine at Brady Media Group – We have been working with them for over a year now and have had a huge amount of success. In fact, they will be opening another pharmacy soon! Determining WHO they were and WHY they started Texas Star Pharmacy was where we had to begin. By assessing the company and their strengths it was actually the customers of the pharmacy that determined what the marketing approach was going to be. Because of the powerful and very loving personality of Dr. Donna Barsky, the owner and pharmacist of this independent pharmacy, we determined it was her! Her customers LOVE her!! She is extremely caring and a natural teacher. She loves helping people and sharing her wisdom with EVERYONE she sees. So what did we do? We merely provided opportunities for her to be…well, her, in front of more people. Our approach? Heavy on some tradition PR tactics, mostly TV so people can see her (and her demographic was watching TV), radio, creating “organic media” that included internal educational videos and podcasts all made by her, a slight change of the logo, a tag line that fit, print material that made her more prominent and an email that went to her customers. Of course there were a few components that were more in depth, but the point here is we only did what was going to be affective and what she could maintain. It wasn’t this large elaborate campaign that didn’t make sense. It was simple and kept to the core of who she is and what Texas Star Pharmacy is about, helping others. They needed help developing and telling the story, the message developed from that story and finally the strategy. They didn’t need to change in order to “fit” in to satisfy an audience she was never going to reach. What made them tick? What platforms made sense based on their audience and abilities? We answered these questions (along with a few others) and built a strategy for HER and Texas Star Pharmacy. No ad agency or PR firm can make you passionate or develop a product that people will use. If people won’t use it, it will flop…everytime! It won’t matter the “strategy” behind the campaign. If it will solve a problem for the end user all you may need is a great story to tell.   

So where do you go from here if you don’t suck? Keep it simple stupid!! Don’t make your message complex! Work with what you have! Be Authentic! You may have to dig a little to find the story and develop the message, but if you can do that YOU become in control of your brand again. Yes, the consumers can control and drive growth and how much they talk about you, but they can NEVER change WHO you are and WHY you’re in business. That’s something you can always stand on! That way, if that bad tweet comes out, you can proudly stand on your record and offer to help fix the problem and even admit fault in front of EVERYONE! There’s a lot to be said about authenticity and transparency. Admitting fault on a very public stage requires a lot of courage!! From that courage you can gain respect and credibility with your audience and even outside your audience. So when I said “almost” everything changed, I meant it…”almost”. What hasn’t changed is WHAT makes a great company. Media, marketing, advertising, branding and how we communicate will keep changing, but if you’re loved and don’t suck, you’ll have nothing to worry about… just make sure you’re evolving your communication methods like everyone else, so they can see you being…you.  

Author: Richard Harmer, Brady Media Group