Article Summary:Do's and Don'ts to consider when pursuing a review-based publicity strategy.
10 Tactics for Winning Product Reviews (continued from Part One)
4. Choose the right product for the review criteria. Knowing what the reviewers are looking for, helps you choose the product that is most likely to do well in the particular review. For example, a Porsche is not likely to do well in a review of compact cars even though it is a physically small car. It could lose on price and the number of passengers it can carry if these were criteria for the review. It may win on performance, but not many people buy compact cars for performance.
Remember to choose a product you wish to sell at the time the review is published. Some reviews can take months from the time you submit your product to the time the story hits the streets. Creating demand for a product that will be obsolete on the publication date will not be very useful.
5. Test the exact product or service you plan to submit before you submit it. Even if your failure rate is one per 10,000, this is not the time for that one faulty unit to show up. If you offer a service, make sure it is being delivered well. You don't want the reviewer to test your responsiveness at a time when you are short staffed or the rookie is manning the phones.
Have a back-up product tested and ready to ship immediately if a problem occurs or if the original one gets damaged in transit.
6. Provide all the components the reviewer needs to properly set up your product for testing. Don't frustrate the reviewer by making them hunt for connecting cables, screws and tools. Also, you want to make sure all these components work as expected. If a customer would not normally get all these components, you can package them in an identifiable "Reviewer's Pack".
7. Provide all the instructions and benchmark data the reviewer needs to set up and satisfactorily test the product. Point out the key features of your product. The benchmarks tell them what they should expect. If they don't see the expected results they can call for help, or at least make sure they configured the test correctly. If a customer would not normally get all this information, you can package it in an identifiable "Reviewer's Pack" along with the product and other components. You might also want to include a special reviewer support telephone number so they get fast competent help if they need it.
Many reviews have been lost because the reviewer set up the product incorrectly so it performed poorly. The reviewer did not know what the product was capable of and therefore accepted the results without question.
8. Follow up with the tester shortly after the deadline for receipt of products. Your objectives are to:
- Make sure the product was delivered
- Make sure the product gets configured correctly
- Highlight key features
- Find out when the product will be written up for the article.
- If it is a technical test, have the support expert and the product manager call, not the PR manager.
9. Follow up with the writer when she is writing the article. Remember the writer is looking for a story, not a set of benchmarks. Offer a list of reference customers who the writer can interview for the story. Of course, you should pre-screen these references. You can also offer photos and to set up executive interviews. Talking with the writer allows you to put test results into perspective for them and allows you to highlight key features that may not be part of the standard test criteria. You may even suggest a "side bar" article on the technology, customers or trends.
A word to the wise on pricing tactics: The writer may ask about your price or you may have to provide a price as part of a qualifying questionnaire. A product can have many prices including the manufacturers recommended list price, the "street price" (what consumers pay) and discounted/sale prices. Which price should you use in the review? If your list price is relatively high and you submit this price for review, you could lose the review based on a perception of poor value for money. If you submit a discounted price or any price at the lowest end of your range, you increase the perception of good value for money. However if the consumer cannot find the product at that price, they may continue to shop around without making a purchase. The best price to quote is close to street price, but erring on the high side. Customers will either find the price they read about, or a lower price that exceeds their expectations. They will feel they found a bargain.
10. Thank everyone involved. A simple note or phone call is enough. It is inappropriate to send gifts to the reviewers.
If you do not win, and no mismanagement was involved by the publication, don't get mad at the publication and don't threaten to "pull your advertisements". Remember there will likely be another review soon. If you have a legitimate beef and the publication wants to make amends, suggest they write an independent story about your offering, not necessarily a retraction. A new positive story that you can use as a sales tool is far more valuable than a "correction" in the small print of some future issue.
Positive reviews by the media can dramatically boost your promotion results. There are however, circumstances when they can hurt your business.
Do have a marketing plan and strategy.
Do understand the resources required and be selective.
Do understand the review criteria.
Do appoint a cross-functional review team to manage the review.
Do choose the right product for review.
Do test the exact product or service before you submit it for review.
Do provide all the necessary instructions and performance benchmarks.
Do follow up with the tester.
Do follow up with the writer.
Do thank everyone involved.
Don't offer products that will not be available at the time of publication.
Don't take unnecessary chances. Reviews must be managed.
Don't undermine your street price.
Don't threaten to "pull your advertising."
Don't offer gifts to the reviewers.
» Read Part One
David Lamont has 18 years marketing and sales experience. He counts among his accomplishments a U.S. patent, a Sales Person of the Year award, an award for enterprise, and most importantly, numerous strategies that dramatically grew sales, profits, market share and brand loyalty. David has worked in the U.S. and Europe and done business in Asia. He is also a Professional Certified Marketer by the American Marketing Association (AMA). David can be contacted through MarketingSage.net which helps businesses increase revenue, launch new products, generate publicity, and establish new sales channels by providing the additional brainpower, bandwidth, IT sales experience, tools and contacts. Their mini-course on marketing tactics is available FREE by email.