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Posted: 2005-04-20 / Author: Paul Hartunian

The "can't Miss System" For Getting Free Publicity

Publicity is a funny business. On one hand you have as many variables as you do opportunities to promote and yet, on the other hand, beneath it all, there are a few cardinal rules that regulate any successful publicity effort. Each rule may take on a different color depending on the specifics that apply to individual industries, but once you strip it all down, you'll always find the following system at work in any working system.

It all begins with quality. Unless you have something worth selling, something the general public will be interested in buying, it's just a matter of time before you're going to run out of "first time buyers" willing to try you out.

Our goal in promoting is going to be to attract free publicity, which, by definition means we're going to have to do something that's newsworthy. It isn't going to do for us to simply buy all the press we need in the form of advertising. That means we're going to have to re aim our marketing strategies. We want to offer a product that stands out as being an incredible value.

One option business has in promoting their benefits is to make a smaller per sale profit margin to a larger portion of the general public. Instead of making, say, $100 profit per product sold to 10 people, they aim at making just $50 profit per product sold to 30. We'll use that in our example.

Once the quality and price are established, then it's important that we chart out a long term marketing plan. It's all about creating a steady growth over the long haul.

We're going to imagine we own a bookstore.
We'll begin by being sure we have a good selection and the location looks good. We're going to guarantee that every book in the store will sell for under retail. But we're not going to limit ourselves to selling books. Everybody does that, we're going to try and create an angle that'll make the media take notice. To do that, we're going to create "Theme Clubs". Groups of people that read similar books will obviously have a lot in common. We're going to aim at establishing mini communities of individuals interested in similar themes.

To get away from the "bookstore" feeling, we're going to set our bookstore up inside a two-story house. Each room will represent a theme.

Our history room will be filled with historical charts and timelines. Galileo thermometers and antiques will make this the kind of room explorers of the past would like visiting.

The children's book section will be a wonderful place of fantasy. Bright colors and images designed to spark the imagination. Something between Disney and Harry Potter. Sci-Fi buffs will love the Trekkie style room. And so forth.

We're planning on eventually hosting lecturers from local colleges in the various rooms speaking about specific topics and book signings will mean something when held in rooms that cater specifically to readers that appreciate the authors style of writing. Monthly membership dues will cover free coffee and discounts to various lectures and parties.

The hallways between rooms will reflect an almost MC Esher-style morphing from one theme to the next.

We're going to try to get away from the "bookstore" feeling and try, instead, to create a feeling of a series of communities that all get their books at our location. We're going to call ourselves something that reflects the fact that we're a combination of several "themes". How about "The Eclectic Bookery"?

Once we've established our quality, price, longer term goals and name, we then need to come up with a way to raise community interest in our kick off. How about an almost theatrical kickoff. We'll announce that we're auditioning individuals to host each room. A "Host" must dress in character, understand the individual styles and be responsible for shelving, scheduling events, etc. for each room. To find these people, we'll offer "sign up bonuses" as we hire them. These $200 sign up bonuses will actually be a gimmick to make the local press take notice of a hiring frenzy.

You'll notice we've created something individuals will be interested in being a part of. We've made it into something that can grow and yet focus directly on the needs of each group.

We're then going to promote it all. We'll send out press releases. We'll schedule not only ourselves, but our various "characters" to appear on radio and television programs. These characters will also be organized into traveling educational tours where they'll do school assemblies around town.

And we're going to fight technology. Not in an aggressive, obvious sort of way, but we're going to taunt a motto that reads, "Back to basics".

That wraps up the "Can't miss system". It begins by checking the quality of what you have to offer. You then price to sell. You follow by making your long-term goals and structured today's activities accordingly. You created several reasons for people to come to visit. And finally, you keep growing, evolving, changing.

In a nutshell, that's what a successful marketing package should look like.

Paul Hartunian is a leading authority on publicity and self-promotion. At his website -

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