Tag Archive for: consumer pr

Marketing and PR during a recession? Who does that? Well, the answer may surprise you: brands that grow the fastest. Why? Studies who brands that market during recessions gain additional advantages because it’s less noisy and easier to be seen and heard. Make your marketing and PR budget go further by tapping into these consumer trends.

Consumer Brands: Remember the Lipstick Effect

Coined by Leonard Lauder in 2001, the term “lipstick effect” when he observed that lipstick sales are inversely correlated to economic health. Why? Because consumers still want to treat themselves and small indulgences fit the bill, even during economic downturns. Luxury lifestyle brands do this with their perfume and makeup offerings. Yes, $69 for Hermes lipstick is a lot for lipstick, but for the Hermes customer or aspirational customer, $69 is an easy purchase compared to a $6,000 purse. Consumer PR and marketing during a recession can help you gain market share and grow when you offer your customers a way to sport your brand without making a gigantic purchase.

What’s your brand’s “lipstick”? What is the product that makes customers feel like they’re treating themselves without large expenditure? 

Find the Fun with Your Customers

What did the post-pandemic consumer teach us? They want fun and frivolity in the pandemic’s wake – and they STILL want that, perhaps even more, with all the gloomy news about a recession. While you, as a CEO, or CMO, might feel doubly beat up, it’s really up to you to bring the fun. From marketing to PR, if you give consumers something fun to talk about or a sense of escapism, consumers will find a way to your party, because they really want to have fun. So while you may be cutting your marketing or PR budget, make sure the things you keep are fun-filled. Not only will this improve your bottom line, it will attach fun to your consumer’s experience of your brand, which means they’ll associate you with fun after the recession too.

What’s your customer’s ideal way to escape? Find them and play with them there. 

Make Lasting Memories with Nostalgia

When uncertainty strikes, consumers love to “remember when.” Whether it’s nostalgia-based packaging or scents to connections to movies and songs, yesterday always brings comfort to consumers. If you’re a legacy brand with long-time customers, then you should absolutely take this opportunity to remind your customers of the good ole days you had together. If you’re a new brand and you don’t have that depth, you can trigger fond memories through partnerships and advertising.

What era makes your customers nostalgic?

Avoid Deep Discounts that Train Customers

If you train your customers to wait until the next sale, they will never buy if there isn’t one, whether or not there is a recession. Resist the urge to devalue your own brand right now. Not only do price discounts squeeze your margins during a time when you can least afford them, constant discounting feels desperate. Desperation is never a great look, especially for luxury brands. To maintain brand and positioning, the beloved cupcake brand Sprinkles resisted the urge to discount during the pandemic:

“Customers had been taught by other bakeries to expect that the product at the end of the day was worth less than at the beginning. But with our just-in-time baking system, these cupcakes were as fresh as their morning relatives. Even then, as tempting as it was to sell off those last few cupcakes at a discount right before closing, I knew we had to stand firmly behind the price. I preferred to donate those cupcakes than to eat into the value of our brand.” -Candace Nelson, founder.

The better option is to carve out a single day (or two) that your brand will offer value pricing, and when you do, look for ways to add value to your current price rather than discounting the product itself. You could offer a gift with purchase or a VIP experience.

Budget planning for marketing and PR during a recession feels less fun than when budgets are flush, but the reality is, you can make major headway during a recession AND you can enjoy the process and the output just as much if not more.

Ah, the early adopter. Their the people who grab on to things first, they start trends and they are influencers in their respective communities.

Whether you’re a startup, a movement or a personality, you need these early adopters. Marketing to early adopters can be slippery though, what they grab on to is almost entirely motivationally based. Toss out your traditional “Three P’s” of marketing if you want to capture this crowd, you’re going to need to think through what makes them tick.

Whether you’re building a product or starting a movement, keep your early adopters in mind. Strategies of early adopter marketing require a deep understanding of their motiviations.

Early Adopters Value Intellectual Stimulation

It doesn’t matter what your target market is, a certain segment of them are early adopters and early adopters like to be challenged and stimulated.  Puzzles and quizzes are intriguing to these people, but they get bored easily, so make sure the content matches the intelligence level.

Don’t mistake this to assume that every puzzle or quiz is intriguing to early adopters. They aren’t necessarily the “Buzzfeed” quiz takers. They like to learn and be challenged but they aren’t interested in dumbed down versions of anything. By the time something has caught mass adoption, early adopters have either “been there/done that” or are already deeply engaged in using the product.

Early Adopters Have High “FOMO.”

Because they value their role as early adopters, they never want to be “out of the loop” or miss something that’s particularly cool.

Tap into that “Fear of Missing Out” during the earliest stages. Give them ways to be cool to their community by letting them be the gateway to a broader audience and you’ll be tapping into their desires to be seen as an early adopter.

Google generally does this really well when it launches products. It does an initial invitation to known early adopters and gets everyone else clamoring to be part of it in the first phase and SEEN as an early adopter. Google definitely has marketing to early adopters down.

Early Adopters Are Attracted to Art, Emotion and Adventure

Perhaps more than any other target market, early adopters are pulled in by emotion, art and adventure.

This is one reason why Apple’s early emphasis on design caught on with early adopters, they loved the elegance of the product and interface, the art of the experience.

Remember, art, emotion and adventure can happen online and offline. This is a place where you can really get creative and have some fun. It’s also easy to identify these people based on where they go because events like TED and TEDX inherently draw early adopter personality types.

Because of this constant searching early adopters have, curiosity is a primary trigger for action. Tripping the curiosity trigger requires some thought because early adopters aren’t generally suckers for the usual mass-marketing techniques; they’re a little more sophisticated than that. You’re going to really have to think of something that genuinely makes them curious.

The “Why” Seriously Matters

Early adopters are very observant they generally see through tactics and need a reason to be inspired.  Your marketing message to early adopters needs to be centered around something inspiring.

Instead of focusing on product features, tap into the deep intellectual and emotional reservoir of early adopters and give some insight to them about why this product or movement matters. You’ll likely need to do some message testing here, but it will be worth it once you hit on the “why” that matters most.

Don’t Confuse Early Adopters for Extroverts

It’s easy to lump the two together, but research shows that messaging that targets extroverts actually repels early adopters. Early adopters like intrigue and creativity, they aren’t particularly attracted to social attention in a public way. This doesn’t mean they aren’t on social media, it just means that their triggers are different. They like to have their role as early adopters confirmed, but they also like to be the messenger of that delivery.

Google once again updated its Product Review Update for 2022. Google’s Product Review Update and consumer PR are closely tied. Yet, for many CMOs and PR people, this update falls below the radar, but it has big implications for consumer products, consumer tech and household goods PR, SEO, and marketing, so it’s important to pay attention. Last year, we covered Google’s views on product reviews too, so if you read last year’s piece, some of this may sound familiar.

[5 minute read]

The April 2021 Google PRU provided these guidelines for reviews and consumer PR:

  • Express expert knowledge about products where appropriate? 
  • Show what the product is like physically, or how it is used, with unique content beyond what’s provided by the manufacturer?
  • Provide quantitative measurements about how a product measures up in various categories of performance?
  • Explain what sets a product apart from its competitors?
  • Cover comparable products to consider, or explain which products might be best for certain uses or circumstances?
  • Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a particular product, based on research into it?
  • Describe how a product has evolved from previous models or releases to provide improvements, address issues, or otherwise help users in making a purchase decision?
  • Identify key decision-making factors for the product’s category and how the product performs in those areas? For example, a car review might determine that fuel economy, safety, and handling are key decision-making factors and rate performance in those areas.
  • Describe key choices in how a product has been designed and their effect on the users beyond what the manufacturer says?

 

What Will Google’s Product Review Changes Mean for 2022?

No doubt, Google’s PRU and consumer PR play in the same sandbox. Savvy editors will look at their product coverage with fresh eyes because this can be a huge impact to large publications with lots of reviews content. Today’s editors are more than content strategists, they’re expected to incorporate SEO considerations into their coverage as well. In the April 2021 Google Product Review Update (PRU), Google announced it would reward in-depth review articles that showed extensive knowledge of the product and context on its usefulness.

This year, it also strongly suggested that it will favor coverage that includes the writer’s own experience with the product – this could be a photos, videos, or other evidence to reinforce the product review expertise and authenticity. Google ALSO wants reviews to provide multiple sales links so the consumer can purchase at the merchant of their choice. This is reasonably good news for DTC products since they will now have a higher likelihood that they will include their URL alongside other purchasing options.

 

Earned Media: Help Journalists and Influencers Be Product Experts

The more you can do to make a journalist or influencer an expert, the better your earned media will be and the happier editors will be to include your products. For CPG companies or consumer tech companies, this means product samples should include in-depth tips that highlight product features and use cases so the reviewer can get to work quickly by experiencing the product. It’s tempting to just throw a product into a shipment the same way you do with consumers – but keep in mind, your customers have already researched your product. Developing B-roll for the product is key also, this allows your reviewer to create high-quality product video quickly. Your customers probably already KNOW the features and comparisons, but a journalist or influencer may not. We’re recommending that companies with a PR sample program get really smart about their PR sample kits. Media kits should also include several links, including major sites with affiliate programs, like Amazon. Take advantage of Google’s Product Review Update for your consumer PR.

 

Paid Coverage: Don’t Lean Too Heavily on Thin Affiliate Content

In April 2021, Google warned that thinly reviewed affiliate links would have even less authority than before – site reviews have proven. Yes, links matter, but if the entire site’s SEO depends on low-quality links, then their content and the site will not receive the much-coveted Google authority. For CPG or consumer tech or household goods brands, this is really important, because historically, your SEO and PR team would work together for affiliate links and product placement. But affiliate links will continue to be relevant for media outlets looking to diversify their revenue streams, so if you haven’t already, make sure you’re providing journalists with an affiliate link too.

Owned Media & Paid Media: Comparison Charts for the Win

It might seem counter-intuitive, but the more you can provide content as to how your product compares, the more likely your product is to be included. This is especially important for consumer product companies who are up against major household names. And if your product is well-suited to a particular niche, this is the time to exploit that. Remember, providing the context saves huge time for the journalists and makes it much easier for them to create multiple product reviews for your product.

On your website, consider these tips for your product pages too. You can’t be too helpful for Google.

Paid Media: Incorporate Branded Content Accordingly

For both your earned and owned media, keep these updates in mind to ensure your content stays fresh in the eyes of Google. Whether that’s a press release or a blog post or sponsored content, do yourself a favor and incorporate both 2021 PRU updates. And think ahead. What Google is trying to do is ensure search results match intent (informational vs. buying, for example), match the searcher’s desires. Take the high road on content – make it useful, contextual, and keep your buyer’s customer journey in mind. If your content is for those on the early side of the buying decision, then make sure your content answers common questions for early-stage buyers, if your content is for those who are ready to buy, be sure to incorporate those keywords as well. If you think ahead and remember your customer’s intent matters a lot to Google, your content can pay dividends for years to come. Regardless of who is creating the content, be sure you include keywords and the overall strategy of the document to the writer. A decade ago, SEO content could be reasonably low-quality content, so long as it was jammed with keywords. Since then, Google has been signaling its desire for high-quality content, and it’s been doubling down on that every year – product pages and product reviews are no exception. Now isn’t the time to take a shortcut.

 

2022 will be a big year for a lot of consumer products as the supply chain (hopefully) loosens up, so stay attuned to Google and make sure your SEO and PR are coordinating intentions and content. Contact us today to incorporate these important digital considerations into your PR.

Bet your starting to think about next year’s social media marketing plan. And as importantly, where will social media marketing fall into the mix? Will there be more? Less? The latest Advertising Trust report from Neilsen may offer some insights to help you in your planning process.

One of the strongest reasons to increase your social media is the the number one source of consumer trust and action isRecommendations from people I know”.  Trust and action are often hand in hand, and we can’t discount the value of trust, but its also hard to measure. However, what creates trust and what creates action can be different. For example, consumers report that humorous ads resonate most with them. We know that humor is a powerful tool, especially in social media. It might be more powerful than cats, dare I say <GASP>. However, humor is rarely what makes people take ACTION.

The action taking piece is the one I’m always most interested in looking at more closely. And its really no surprise that word of mouth leads the pack. Ads on social networks have a lower trust score than they do action score. That’s actually true for several advertising types. With respect to social media, there are two key take aways:
1)  Use social to build trust and be very aware of what motivations exist for taking action.
2) The power of your tribe: when they share what you’ve got, its a more credible source. So be very aware of what and why people share on social. Tribes deeply impact our actions.

Now, the challenge with a report like this is that these results are all self-reported. The challenge with self-reporting is that people don’t always really know why they do what they do. I know, YOU always know why you do what you do. Or do you? Your motivations may not always be clear even to you. That’s why I started Captivation Motivation Training. 

Just remember, what type of message you use impacts trust and action. Decide what you’re trying to establish in every single post. Be purposeful in your social media practice and you’ll find that you can actually be more human.

Thanks for reading

 

 

 

PS: If you’d like to download the Neilsen Report for yourself: click here

Much has been writing over the years about how to manage comments in a blog or online community. However, recently, I was asked my opinion, so I thought I’d share it here.

Let’s be clear: there are ALL kinds of people on the interweb so its easy to create a moderation policy built for the lowest common denominator. And as someone who has a community, I can tell you from personal experience that its deeply troubling to stare down the lowest common denominator. But in my view there are several approaches to community moderation. Let’s be clear, almost all sites require some sort of identification, so that’s a given. I don’t view this as much of a deterrent for spammers (creating a fake email or persona isn’t THAT hard); I see it as more of a benefit to real people.

Open Door Policy: The most liberal of comment moderation policies. All comments are auto-approved without any technical or human moderation.
Pros: The community is completely transparent to one another, with the exception that people will often use pseudonyms on communities like this.
Cons: Spam and lowest common denominator magnet. These two elements will likely crowd out your actual community. 

You don’t see this policy very often because the “Pros” don’t really outweigh the “Cons” for most community managers. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist at all. But where it does, communities usually have a high tolerance for one another and the ability to overlook spam.

Knock-First Policy: An in-between policy where a technology spam filter like Akismet is employed to detect spammy links. Automation may also detect profanity and hold in moderation.
Pros: Keeps the community free of junk without over reaching-gives the community a true voice that is consistent with the community’s own language. Not terribly time-consuming to manage.
Cons: Comments can create community drama without being spammy or profane. 

I personally use this methodology. I think its strikes a good balance of empowering the community while making it enjoyable for most.  My comments require a sign-in (LiveFyre) and Akismet moderates for spammy links and the worst profanity, the rest is auto-approved. My community is really very respectful, and my topic isn’t terribly controversial, so I don’t have much a challenge to this. However, from a best practices standpoint, I think this methodology has some merit as well. I think it tells the community you trust and value them. It also doesn’t feel heavy-handed.

The challenge to this, is how the community treats one another (and the brand/moderator/poster) and at what point does the moderator intervene? If this is a real concern, then I suggest creating moderation guidelines that you can point to if you feel you may have to cool things down in your community on occasion. Be very clear (read: not lawyer-esque) when you will delete or hide community posts and how you will handle it when/if that happens. I personally think deleting posts is the nuclear option, and one that is best used only in the most extreme circumstances. Another option is to close comments on a thread. I think this is a pretty agressive move as well. After all, why even have comments if the community can’t express itself within defined limits of respect? Just to be clear, this policy will challenge you on occasion. There will be moments of deep discomfort. But this is another reason for defining a moderation policy, write it when you’re unemotional, refer to it when you’re emotional or unsure.

Unlock Policy: This is the most extreme policy, where all comments are automatically held in moderation, until a human can review and approve them. 
Pros: Keeps out all the riff-raff.
Cons: Delaying comments prevents organic timely conversation. Can you keep up with reading every single comment and approving in a timely manner? 

From my view this is a fear-based policy: “We’re afraid of our community” is what this says to me. It’s also basically a message to the community that there is no value in organic conversation. If your going to do this, make sure that your moderation policy is EASILY available and that you inform your community as to how frequently comments are approved.

What you choose for your online community is a decision you’ll have to weigh with the values of that community and your brand.  

Now go out there and ENJOY the online community you’ve worked so hard to create.

 

PS: Join me for more blogging tips and tricks April 30th at 6PM for Blogging for Business at Pacific New Media

Image: Creative Commons BiochemSoc