There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

freelunchA colleague sent me an email this week asking “Is this a good deal?” What he had been offered was a free article in an industrial magazine, all we had to do was spend 15 minutes on the phone with one of their writers and they would prepare the article for us. Normally this is the sort of thing that you Jump at when you work in marketing communications. But not this time.

What set the alarm bells ringing in the first instance was that I had not heard of the magazine. Further reading of their promotional material stated that the magazine was circulated to top global decision makers, without any breakdown of job roles or even any specific circulation figures. The last piece of the puzzle dropped into place when I read that in return we had to supply a list of our suppliers. I’ve been on the receiving end of these types of promotions in the past but from the other side, as a supplier.

When i first started working in marketing communications I was mentored by the late Charles Lewis. Charles was very well known by all the editors of European process and control magazines and he taught me a great deal. Charles was vehemently opposed to promotions like this and he instilled in me the same view.

The way that publications such as this work is that they offer a company the free magazine article, sometimes they even offer to produce it as a company flier also. When the target company bites they are asked to provide a supplier list. Each of the suppliers then gets a letter stating “Company Y is placing a promotional article in our magazine. Mr X from that company would really like you to support that article with an advertisement.” I have received many of these letters and have had many forwarded to me by clients and colleagues. I have at times spoken to sales reps from these magazines. When I decline their offer I have been told “We will go and tell Mr X that you said no.” This always feels to me a little like blackmail. I have actually said this to reps in the past who have just restated their intention to “go tell on me”. This just pisses me off.

When you receive an offer like this, whether you are being offered the article or the advertising the same question still applies.

Will this reach my target audience?

If the supplier is reluctant to give you this information or if they just try to fob you off with vague terms such as “decision makers” then you should question their motives and you should seriously question whether you want to invest time or money in their opportunity.

Another useful question as a supplier when you are offered this kind of opportunity is “if I do not place this ad will it harm my relationship with this customer?”

Are these kinds of publications unique to the automation market or are they seen in other markets also? How do you deal with the pushy sales reps that work for these publications?

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Doing something different gets you noticed

20140722-202725-73645179.jpgI flew with Thomsons today for the first time. I fly a lot in my job, mostly short flights to other European cities, as a result I get to see lots of safety videos and safety demonstrations. Normally I doze off through these, I certainly don’t give them my full attention. Today’s video was different. I listened all the way through to everything that was said. The reason…. They had children playing the part of the stewardesses. The message was exactly the same but it was delivered differently, and that made it interesting. There is an excellent lesson to us all. If you want to deliver a message and you want to make it stand out, deliver it differently.

Have you seen any other examples of where a standard message has been delivered in a different way to make it stand out. Maybe you have done this in your line of work.

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Would you work with a marketing company that get their own marketing wrong?

When you are making a decision about whether to work with a marketing company you want to be sure that they can do what they say they can do.  Often the evidence for that can be seen in how they operate and how they present themselves.

I have been forwarded the same email twice this week.  The email was addressed to our HR Manager and also to our quality Manager.  In that email the company were offering to get us cheap advertising on the Daily Mail website.

I visited this company’s web site and it looks impressive.  Some people may be suckered in.  They have a section on their site called “Contextual targetng”  In this section they say –

“Contextual targeting is a form of advertising whereby adverts are ‘in context’ with the editorial environment”

Now, I would suggest that if this company had done their research they would know that an ad for our products would not be in the right context if it was placed on the Daily Mail Website.  We are a B2B company and we target our products at a narrow group of engineering companies.

The other major fail is that they sent these emails to the wrong people.  None of my colleagues in marketing, or me as the Marketing Manager have received an email.  Do they really think an HR Manager or a Quality Manager will make decisions on ad placements or are they just playing the numbers game and hoping that eventually they will get to a decision maker.

I for one will not be working with this company. Would you?

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Have I missed something on LinkedIn?

I seem to be getting invites to connect on LinkedIn lately from people I don’t know.  The invites say “Since you are a person I trust….”.

Now just wait a minute – you may trust me but this isn’t about you! You want to connect with me so how do I know I can trust you? 

I’m not somebody that subscribes to the LinkedIn Open Networking (LION) philosophy so when I connect to people I generally want to have had some sort of relationship with them first, whether that is a relationship in the real world or a business relationship. 

One of these invites even came from a senior person within the PR Industry.  I would have expected something more from him – maybe a personalised message stating why he would like to connect with me and why he thinks I would benefit from connecting with him.

What do you think?  Do you subscribe to the open networking philosophy? Am I wrong to get up tight about this impersonal invitation to connect?

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Time I started Blogging again

I have been out of the PR business for a while. I changed jobs in May 2011. I went from working in a marketing communications agency to working for a large engineering company as a regional Marketing Manager. It has been a hectic 10 months trying to get to grips with what my job is (it’s changing all the time as I re-define and refine it), sorting out my department – which spans two locations in two different countries, and putting together the processes as we move to providing a fully integrated marketing service to our Product Managers and business development Managers. This has all meant I have not been as closely involved with the communications side (although lots of internal communications) as I would have wished. This will start to change and I plan to blog about some of the challenges I face as we progress.

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Change of host

I have had to change my host and was not able to access the site to make a back up.  Please bear with me until I have everything up and running properly.

You can contact me on j.weet@btinternet.com

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