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How to solve this common marketing problem

by | Jan 4, 2024 | Advice & Tips, Digital Marketing, Editorial Services, Graphic Design, Website Support

Man adjusting pants

A little adjustment can make a big difference

You have a marketing problem. I’ll tell you what it is, and then how to fix it. 

The problem is that marketing has become commoditized. When something becomes commoditized, products become indistinguishable from competitors. Like white T-shirts and AAA batteries. For you, that means your marketing is indistinguishable from your competitors’. 

For instance, it’s no longer an advantage to have a nicely designed website because everyone has one. And it’s certainly not novel to use keywords to buy digital ads. Or, how about having a blog or using influencers? Who doesn’t do that? And do you think AI is going to create unique content for you that’s different from your competition? Not likely.

Today, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a digital marketing agency. They are everywhere.  And they all sell the same services. 

Frankly, for me as an agency owner, it’s become a difficult business to be in. There’s a saying: “When a product becomes commoditized, profits go from dollars to dimes.” 

The good news for me is agencies wash out pretty fast. I expect that pace to increase. Colleges can crank our marketing degrees faster than Washington prints money because kids think marketing sounds fun. But once they get a taste of what it’s like to work in an industry with mass competition, they become disillusioned and fold.   

I think the only reason my agency has been around for 35+ years is we don’t follow the pack. And that’s the solution to commoditization for both you and me.

What made us unique in the past was our trademarked Pay Per Interview® publicity. But being successful pioneers means plenty of copycats have cropped up. Plus, earned PR is waning. And while that’s still a money-maker for us, we’ve had to pivot. We’re using our decades of experience to look at product marketing through a different lens than other agencies. 

The good news is, a little shift in thinking can make a big difference. 

Here are four changes I’ve made to distinguish us—and your marketing—from the competition:

  1. I’ve been telling our staff to get the word brand out of their vocabulary. It’s so tiring and overused. I want them to talk and think in terms of making products famous instead. Being famous has sizzle and being a brand is bland. And who doesn’t want their product to become and stay famous? I guarantee your brain will fire completely differently when you think about making your product famous rather than thinking of making it a brand.
  2. We no longer use the account executive title. I’ve changed their title to publicists. There’s something exciting about being a publicist whose job is to make products famous. Once again, our brains fire in a whole new way when we think of ourselves as a product’s publicist.
  3. We now call our writing staff beat reporters. And their beat is your product. Just like a beat reporter for crime or traffic, their job is to hunt down and get the stories. The title of beat reporter evokes a territorial response that gives them a strong feeling of ownership. They feel personally responsible to produce.
  4. Another change I’ve made is to call our website managers, store managers. My goodness, no one would build a physical store and not have it managed. But that’s what often happens with websites. Clients come to us with low-performing websites because they are not getting the attention they deserve. Someone should be taking care of them just like a manager at a physical store. Things break and need updating, and the title of store manager brings clarity to this responsibility.

Do these seemingly minor changes make a difference?

Ah, you bet they do. Clients hire us because they like our attitude about making companies and their products famous. And they like having a publicist constantly looking for ways to accelerate their product’s rise to fame and maintain its celebrity status. They also like the idea of having a beat reporter assigned to their product, and knowing the websites we build have store managers on duty watching over them.

One more thing and it’s important

You can’t run an effective marketing program if you don’t know basic marketing terms and concepts. When you interview an agency, ask them to define Brand, Market Segmentation Strategies and the Marketing Mix. I don’t expect you to know these definitions. But you should expect me, or any agency, to answer correctly. 

Whether you hire us or not you should get a copy of my bestselling book, “The CEOs Guide to Marketing”. You can use it to quiz your current agency or ones you are considering. But beware. You are in for an uncomfortable surprise. We’ve quizzed hundreds of so-called marketing professionals on basic terms. The average score was 7 out of 10 WRONG.

Everyone on our staff receives extensive training in marketing. Even our accountant. It’s a huge distinction between our agency and others, and it impacts the caliber of our deliverables.    

So, that’s our mindset. If it aligns with how you want to do business, let’s work together. Most clients have quite a bit of work that needs to be done during the first three months, so most of them start with a $5000/month retainer. Over time, we can adjust our pace and your budget accordingly, depending on your needs. 

Contact us here to get started. If it’s easier for you to call, our phone number is 952-697-5269.

Written by Lonny Kocina

Written by Lonny Kocina

Lonny Kocina is the CEO and Founder of Media Relations Agency which has been in business for nearly 35 years. During that time, Kocina also founded and sold two other businesses: Mid America Events and Expos, and Checkerboard Internet Services. Prior to that, Lonny worked as a marketing director for Investment Rarities Inc., a company with sales over 4 billion dollars. Kocina has also been a long time member of Vistage International which is a CEO peer mentoring organization. He was also a volunteer marketing mentor for Junior Achievement and the Carlson School of Business. For fun he has taught Principles of Marketing at the college level, and his recent book, the “CEO’s Guide to Marketing” is an Axiom Business Book silver medal winner as well as an Amazon bestseller. Lonny likes to kid that his third grade teacher may have summed him up best with a note sent home on his report card. “Lonny is a daydreamer and he’s getting worse each day. He complains of a stomach ache a lot and I don’t think he likes school much either.”

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