Let’s see, the calendar says that today is the 12th of September which means …… that’s right, were about two weeks away from retailers putting the marketing and PR (press release) push on their holiday specials. And by holidays, I mean Christmas.
I have to admit it drives me nuts to see the Christmas banners up before the end of October; not that I have anything against Christmas, I just like to enjoy my holidays one at a time. Forget Halloween and although meaningful in intent, Thanksgiving, usually doesn’t give the shops much to be thankful for. And if your are of a different religious persuasion, the retailers lump in your holy celebration to cash in with Christmas.
I understand why they do it. And you need to learn from this annual strategy. The big day in the retail world as we all know is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. As a matter of fact, Google shared some recent statistics regarding holiday shopping:
- 44% of shoppers have already started their holiday shopping and researching
- Over a third of recent polled respondents said they have already begun making holiday purchases
So what does this have to do with teaching you about planning out your PR campaign? Most businesses that I’ve worked with and consulted send out press release and began their marketing blitz AFTER they released a new product or service.
This puts them way behind the game. Why? Can you imagine if Best Buy, Macy’s, Kohl’s, or Toys “R” Us, waited until Black Friday to first announce the special deals that they have that day?
Consumers, by that time, have either spent a portion of their holiday budget and are waiting at 4:00 AM in front of one their competitor’s shops ready for the running of the bulls to elbow, shove, stomp and kick their way to grabbing the deals that they saw in the papers weeks or months before.
So as you are preparing your next product or service, start pinging your market with PRs prior to your release date. This will give your consumer base the opportunity to send in their questions giving you excellent feedback for fine-tuning your finished product, take pre-orders if possible, spread the word to others that they know may be interested in your product, and allow your customers to allocate their cash for buying your product instead of purchasing an alternative from a competitor.
A key component in sending out your PRs prior to your actual release date is that you need to make sure that you stick to your release date. Black Friday is a firm day. If the retailers advertise ahead of time that they are going to run specials that day, they had better be ready with plenty of their advertised discounted inventory or face extreme negative backlash.
Yes, KFC survived when they had Oprah hand out millions of meal deal coupons for their new grilled chicken, but most locations couldn’t keep up with demand – so they had to hand out coupons to come back at a later date. But, they’re KFC. If they anger 10% of their customer base – although significant in numbers, they can still survive. As a solopreneur, if you lose 10% of your customer base, it could have devastating effects.
So the next time that you are planning a new product or service, keep these key points in mind:
- Send out your PRs prior to your release date
- Allow customers to ask questions helping you fine-tune your final revision
- Word of mouth is still the #1 form of advertising – the sooner your customer base knows, the sooner they can start spreading the word, helping to build your demand
- Take pre-orders where possible – it can help fund your development phase – or at least have them hold off from buying a competing product
- Stick to your release date
Sending out your PRs once you have your product or service ready to sell puts you way behind the game. Get the word out ahead of time so you can start taking orders on Day 1.
All The Best,
The Solopreneur’s Guide