Is your company just talking about products? Does it talk to the market at all? Does it express perspectives on trends, changes and what's happening in your special area? Do you have the goal of focusing positive attention on your brand by demonstrating the company's depth of expertise or the need for change?
In a recent message I asked a new client to think about what issues, problems, challenges, changes and trends are occurring in their particular sector. My questions included:
- What's not being addressed that should be?
- What's broken and how can it be fixed?
- Why is what they do more challenging than it was perhaps 5 years ago?
- Where is the business going?
- What's the future look like?
- What areas of their market sector that are being ignored? What's the potential cost of that?
- What's the next big opportunity in the business? Who's likely to grab it?
I'm simply suggesting electronics company management team members "put a face on their company," go public, be a bit like TJ Rodgers and demonstrate a controversial, supportable opinion on what's important or perhaps not happening in their sector that should be.
If someone works 40 or 50 hours a week in some tech business area for 10 or 20+ years, they certainly ought to have some vision and opinions to express. Putting that into a business communications context, how about sharing that expert perspective with your market? You don't have to be TJ or Steve Jobs to be vocal about important events or trends in your business area.
If you can tie your business efforts to that trend or problem, so much the better. Just apply a light hand and don't let your market perspective become merely an ad for your brand. You'll get lots more attention with constructive ideas than by pushing products. If you need article or speech writing and coaching help, get some. Everyone can use an editor or a coach. The good news is public speaking hasn't killed anyone that I know of.
Stirring up some controversy by pointing out the emperor's lack of clothes or discussing what's next are just a couple of ways of demonstrating savvy in your particular area of expertise. Tracking blogs and publications focused on your business should give you opportunities for testing the water temperature when talking to your market. Borrowing from the old carpenter's mantra, “Think twice, speak once.” Express an opinion that's relevant to your customers. Champion a new technical standard. Go out on a limb a ways on a topic of broad importance. Good news is, if history later proves you're wrong after a year or so, no one will remember.
Better yet, work with your team and develop a number of key topics worthy of interest by your customers and prospects. Don't just fire off a single idea. Create a program of expressing ideas of value to the market. Cooperate with others in your business sector on expressing these ideas. Co-authorship and co-presenting are very effective. Get experienced business communications help to make the program go. DIY can work. But having a PR pro driving the campaign will make a difference. If some of the appropriate company spokespersons need their presentation skills polished, get that done.
Becoming known in the market isn't just about announcing the next device or posting bigger sales numbers. Companies' reputations are also created by building positive market perceptions and demonstrating value, which can include their people talking about what's interesting. Is your company talking about anything interesting?
Ford Kanzler, principal of Marketing/PR Savvy in Santa Cruz, California, is a business communications pro with over 30 years in tech marketing.