David Lamont

Article Summary:

Gettting a review written about a product can be a tremendous publicity strategy.

Winning a Review-based Publicity Strategy - Part 1

The benefits of a positive endorsement by the media can hardly be understated. Customers turn to the media to learn about solutions, and to help choose between potential offerings. Many prospective customers do not look beyond these endorsements and buy on the basis of their credibility. There is little question that "Two Thumbs Up" sells movies and a "5-star" rating sells hotel rooms. One PC-clone manufacturer told the author that their PC Magazine Editors Choice Award added about $5-million to their bottom line.

A positive media review can dramatically boost your sales and marketing results in two significant ways:

  • You get publicity that you would otherwise have to purchase. This publicity increases the awareness of your offering in the marketplace and exposes you to more potential customers.
  • A third-party endorsement adds credibility to your offering in a way that no self-serving advertisement can. This endorsement adds to the value of your brand and builds your prestige, giving you a competitive advantage. This prestige may also justify a price premium, increasing your profits. The Promise of Successful Branding is covered in Marketing Promotion Planning and Strategy.
There are many ways you can win from a review, even if you are not the editor's first choice.

You can win if you can extract a favorable quote from the review. You may use these quotes to strengthen the credibility of your advertising.

You also win by the fact that your product and brand has been exposed to a wider audience. Name recognition plays a big part in product selection and prospects often cannot recall where they came across the brand they recognize.

You can even "turn lemons into lemonade" if you know how to respond to a negative review. There are some negative aspects to a review-based promotion strategy. Unlike a paid advertisement where you control the message and the timing of its delivery, a review is somewhat out of your control. To some extent you take a risk when you submit your product or service for review. You risk an unfavorable review and unfavorable publicity.

If you do badly, there is the possibility of lost sales. Also a competitor may proactively use a negative review against you. These, however, are not the most critical reasons for holding off on a review-based promotion strategy.

Most reviews are positive and neutral, not patently negative. And most competitors will not want to lend credibility to your offering by even mentioning you. Also the reach of any given medium is limited. Not every customer reads every magazine.

There are however, circumstances when a positive review can also hurt your business and seriously diminish your ability to get a return on your promotional investment.

Once you decide to pursue a review-based strategy, here are 10 tactics that can increase your chances of winning.

10 Tactics for Winning Product Reviews (without changing your offering or cheating)
1. Be selective about the publications and reviews you choose to enter. While the term "free publicity" is often used to describe editorial coverage, this term is a little misleading. Preparing and tracking product used for review purposes is often quite time consuming. Also, if you have an expensive product, you may not be able to afford to have units circulating for review. This is especially the case where reviewers do not return the product or damage it. So before you get started, consider your ability to do the job right. Sometimes no review is better than a poor review.

Some reviews give you publicity but not an endorsement. Many publications do not express an opinion, so their reviews tend to be bland, listing product features and a few pros and cons.

Consider also, the medium's ability to generate sales of your offering. If you have to choose which media to work with, evaluate them as if you were about to advertise. For example, a full feature in a small-audience newsletter may not be as valuable as a paragraph in a major publication. Also, people buy only when they have an interest in your product, so a small circulation publication that directly addresses your target audience may produce more sales than a large circulation publication that does not.

2. Before you enter a review, know what the reviewers are looking for. Know what excites them and what irritates them about the products they review. While many reviews are highly structured and pseudo-scientific, reviewers are people and they have perceptions that will affect the review. Learn who the reviewers or product testers are and who the writers are. If the review is technical in nature, it is possible that the tester and the writer will not be the same person.

If the reviewer and the writer's names are not published, the PR manager can ask for this information. The advertising manager may, however, be more successful getting the information from her contacts. You should also read both previous reviews in the publication, and previous articles by the writers. This will give you a flavor of what the hot buttons are.

3. Appoint a cross-functional review team. This team typically includes a product manager, a PR manager and a technical expert. It might also include the product designers. Because reviews can be so valuable and damaging, this team should not only have a plan, but also the ability to execute it. They need to be able to short-circuit any internal bureaucracy that would make the company appear unresponsive to the press.

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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.

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