Choosing the right promotional vehicles is key to driving out of coronavirus doldrums, says marketing expert. 

Whether planning a new product launch, looking for a hard-hitting sales campaign or wanting to shout about the latest clothing collections, marketing and PR across all elements must provide ‘opportunities to see’, writes Tim Smith of PR and marketing agency TSM.

From stories in magazines and product placement, to innovative advertising concepts, social media strategies, competitions and giveaways, e-shots and digital campaigns – all play their part in the end results being successful and profitable.

As part of the planning stage, think about the target audience and how to reach them.  For some products and services, social media may prove the most fruitful; while for others a heavyweight advertising campaign allowing you to promote a high end, luxury feel that clients want to be a part of may be the focus.

What elements of the marketing mix should you consider?

Public relations (PR) provides a business or individual with exposure to their audience - such as horse owners - using topics of interest and news items. 

The aim is to promote products, services and news to end-users and a wider related audience. Common activities involving PR can also include speaking at conferences, winning industry awards, working with the press, and employee communication.

An editorial is a story or feature piece usually written by the editorial staff of a newspaper or magazine. Editorials can reflect the opinion of the publication and often take the form of a hard-hitting news story.  

Editorial usually appears in the early part of an equestrian magazine, with product related features, competitions, giveaways and event reports following later on.

Advertorials differ from traditional advertisements in that they are designed to look like the articles that appear in the publication. 

Most publications will not accept advertisements that look exactly like stories from the newspaper or magazine they are appearing in. The differences may be subtle, and a disclaimer, such as the words ‘advertisement feature’ may or may not appear. 

The tone of the advertorial is usually closer to that of a press release than of an objective news story, and they are of course a paid for piece of communication.  

Many newspapers and magazines assign staff writers or freelancers to write advertorials.  A major difference between regular editorial and advertorial is that clients usually have content approval of advertorials, a luxury not usually provided with regular editorial.

The advertisement feature commonly relates to one specific topic, such as tack and saddlery, or feeding the competition horse and so on. In most cases, the editorial team takes relevant product information and imagery, and this may also be supported with a paid for advert.

Advertising is a form of communication used to encourage or persuade an audience to make a purchase, or have an increased awareness of the brand or product.  

Usually, the desired result is to drive consumer behaviour with respect to buying products and services.  

Paid for advertising is also used for brand awareness and general promotion; but in the long term, the aim for all businesses is to grow their sales.

Other promotional PR tools include product tried and tested features - where products are sent to magazines to test and write about, sponsorship of riders and events to help increase brand awareness, product endorsement, plus competitions and giveaways where prizes are provided to gain exposure in the press.

When it comes to social media there is much to consider from Facebook to Instagram, LinkedIn, Tik Tok, Twitter, Pinterest and You Tube.  Think about video content, Pay Per Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) all need to be considered for your campaign.

Agency or in-house?

During these difficult times, businesses may be looking to make savings by employing an agency to carry out their marketing either on an ad-hoc basis or via regular retainer. 

For businesses that don’t want to employ a full-time PR manager, most turn to an agency such as TSM. The agency role is very similar to that of the in-house PR manager, and the client and agency agree the level of support required.  

This can be anything from acting as the company’s marketing manager - carrying out all aspects from PR to media buying, design work, social media and sponsorship advice - to simply writing and issuing product press releases.

Ad-hoc projects can involve promoting a show or event for a set period, say the three months before the fixture, or may require an agency to work for a time on launching a product or new brand, and for this to be taken back in-house once everything is up and running.  

Other businesses keep their PR agency team on full-time, paying a monthly retainer to cover the hours carried out, the expertise and advice available and to ensure that all information is sent to all relevant media on an ongoing basis.

Raising your profile

There’s no quick fix to marketing and growing your business. But by using the promotional vehicles described above, you will at least be working towards developing a more high-profile company, brand and range of products or services.

For more information

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay