There is foundation to the cliche that opposites attract in relationships of any kind, be it romantic, social, or professional. People seek the qualities they don’t possess in a partner for balance.
If two domineering forces unite, there are extreme highs and lows in relationships with very rare moments of harmonious sailing. If two passives unite, nothing gets done.
Which brings us to the designer and the marketer, two species of humanity possessing bi-polar mindsets that, commercially speaking, require each other’s strengths in order to survive.
The designer creates yet stumbles on effectively communicating and promoting his or her innovation. The marketer depends on the creative skill of others, so he/she has fodder to communicate to the market, industry and media.
I have been marketing industrial, engineering and design products for over seven years. I am in awe of designers for their precision and creative ability. I am also smug in the knowledge that their innate gift mutually excludes them from the ability or desire to market and commercialise their innovations.
You engineers and designers, think you have it over us. You may criticize us for our lack of any form of technical understanding. Your ilk may level ours as petty. You’re form and substance. We’re vapour and image consciousness.
Yet, for the success of your product, don’t underestimate the importance of our over-generalising, superficial minds. You are too close to the mechanics of the product to be able to project an appealing global picture of your design, activities and other perceived strengths.
We may not understand the mechanics, but know it would sell if the surfaces were teal-coloured and curvy. Details like number of components, rpms, gigabytes and gigaflops slip through our sieve-like brains, yet if these are the strong selling points of the product, we know what font to write it on the box.
If you’re a small design consultancy, or have just started to develop your own products, you may not have the budget to afford a marketing manager, or outsource communication and publicity work to external agencies. I’ll let you in on a secret. It’s easier for a designer to execute simple marketing strategies than for a marketer to innovate.
There are a number of simple techniques that you can follow to communicate your own design or commercial success to your public, which are outlined below.
PR – Public Relations – communicating your product to the media, industry and your potential customer.
This is not paid publicity or advertising. It is making your company, product or activities suitably newsworthy to attract media and public attention.
Not to undervalue the benefits of paid advertising in the area of branding and improving awareness for your company, a page of positive free publicity has more impact on direct customer response than a one-page advertisement.
Unfortunately, the negative impact on bad press is even more severe. A bad review of your product in a publication can have long term detrimental impact on the reputation you’re trying to build.
1. Know your media. Don’t underestimate its influencing power.
Create a ‘communications’ database, filled with contact names, phone numbers, addresses and email details of all editors and journalists of magazines and websites read by your industry and target market.
These people either directly or indirectly shape or form the decisions of your market. You may also want to add to this list important industry contacts such as members of industry-related associations, and prospects and customers who have expressed interest in finding out more information about your activities.
Don’t forget to include international media in your database.
2. What to communicate:
The ugly truth is that the media isn’t interested in plugging or freely advertising your company. They don’t share the same enthusiasm for your activities as you or your loved ones might.
Remember these people receive thousands of letters and emails of ‘newsworthy’ items every day. You have to differentiate your message and identify yourself to them, in order to attract their interest.
You need an angle.
If your setup or corporate character is not particularly unusual for your industry, and you don’t have funds to send the press to some exotic location for the launch of your product, you must be able to communicate the following:
• A brand new invention or a revolution in the way something is designed that will benefit the market-place or community in some shape or form.
• A local, international award for your design or project, for example announcing that your company won a Design Award or Innovation Award for your product.
• A large, high-dollar value sale of some description.
• Clinching a deal with a high profile company, or winning a noteworthy tender.
• Your locally designed and manufactured product gaining market space or recognition internationally. There’s plenty of mileage to be gained from the ‘local hero’ factor.
3. The press release
So you have something interesting to say. Nokia chose you to design their next generation of mobile phones, you won the tender to design the new Sydney Airport, or Unilever International is using your consultancy to design all the packaging for their range of soaps and detergents. You have your list of journalists and now you have to structure a communique that will arouse their attention.
These people want to receive your interesting facts and in a standard form. Keep it as simple as possible. They want to decide on it’s newsworthiness within the first thirty seconds after opening your message.
In ten words or less, you have to summarise the subject of your communication and type it into the ‘subject’ of your email.
The last section is an ‘about your company’ section. Prepare a brief description of your company, your activities, and a web and contact address that more or less won’t change each time you forward news.