PR: Is it Really About Driving Sales?

    January 9, 2007

“The best comms programs are those that have nothing to do with customer acquisition.”

WTF? I heard this the other day, dismissed it completely. Traditionally, in my world, crafting messages, securing attention and influencing perception has always been – and will always be – about one thing: driving sales. The best comms programs are in fact those with a sick concentration on customer acquisition. Period.

My mistake. I dismissed this statement too quickly….

There’s a twisted sort of genius in this notion, especially if you think about how broadcast models of marketing and public relations are losing their effectiveness, while brand advocacy and community evangelist programs continue to gain momentum. Where the old models concentrate heavily on things like reach, attention and acquisition, it comes at the cost of an oft-neglected audience – your existing customers.

New models of communication flip things around. It’s not about the message, it’s not about the new sale, it’s about the Godin-esq “customer experience.” Make it great for your existing customers and everything else falls into place. Your primary audience is no longer WSJ readers, it’s no longer TwIT listeners, it’s Bill, a frustrated dad in Des Moines who keeps reporting your product’s bugs and emailing customer support, but never hears anything back.

Maybe the best comms programs are indeed those that talk to Bill first.

Now, sadly, there’s a whole other issue here. It’s a bureaucratic one. Who owns the relationship with Bill? More often than not, it’s not PR.

A subject for another post…


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Mike Manuel is the founder of the award winning Media Guerrilla blog. Media Guerrilla is an insiders take on the practice of technology public relations with a focus on the issues, tactics and trends that are specific to the tech industry.

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