Recently, a few different friends got featured in the local press. Shortly afterwards, I’d get an SMS or Facebook message from them asking for my opinion.
“Hey Nate, I just got covered on Straits Times, but results were not what I expected. Can you help me analyze it?”
And these are not normal people.
These friends range from seasoned corporates (ex C-level execs and directors) to experienced business people. They have personal connections and charisma to get featured in newspapers and magazines (this is the real world. connections DO matter). One even got featured on the local press TWICE, did THREE magazine interviews and was invited to speak at TWO MAJOR events.
Still, results were below expectations. What went wrong?
Honestly, nothing went wrong. It was simply a case of unrealistic expectations. The answer lies in 3 things people confuse: Trust, Awareness and Sales. I’d explain why.
This is the part people confuse the most.
Getting featured on local newspapers might not help you sell more. It results in a one-time spike in awareness for your brand. But it does give you one very powerful thing: TRUST.
Newspapers and news channels are seen as an extremely credible source of information in Singapore. No other media comes close to the perceived creditability of The Straits Times.
“Local papers won’t post anything false right? Surely they will do their checks. It must be real.”
Use this public perception as a good way to build your brand trust. Some key methods for building brand trust are:
- Getting featured on Straits Times, Today, Channel News Asia, Business Times
- Getting featured on well-known magazines
- Winning awards (Top 100 Entrepreneurs in Singapore etc)
- An impressive office
- Having a title like Datuk or Dr.
- Being at glamour events (Shaking hands with ministers, super-rich elites and corporate superstars)
- Giving talks
The objective of this is for potential customers to go “Oh. Brand X? They’re definitely not a scam. I saw the boss getting interviewed on TV!”
The 2nd thing businesses want is to let the right people know about them. Notice I said “right people”, not “more people”.
“Doesn’t being featured in newspapers and magazines already do that?”
As mentioned earlier, that’s the biggest confusion. Trusted media is more for building brand trust. But if you want real reach, you need TARGETED advertising. This means niche magazines, personal selling, digital marketing and A LOT OF FOLLOW UP.
As of the time of me writing this, digital marketing is the best way to do this. If your target audience is “Women aged 35-45”, you’re not trying hard enough.
Narrow it down to “Women aged 35-45, who love to do Yoga, run on weekends but aren’t that hardcore about sports and who visited my website or competitors before”. THAT is the level of detail you can go into with digital marketing. No other form of advertising today can go into such detail. Use this to your advantage.
The best part is, you can stalk them all over the internet if you like.
I personally have a list of thousands of SME owners in Singapore. It might be the biggest list of targeted business owners in Singapore. If you’re reading this article now, that’s probably how my article showed up. But rest assured. I have none of your personal info. I don’t even know your names. Everything sits with Facebook and Google. Although I can reach the people I want easily and effectively.
You should do the same for your business. Reach ONLY the right people. You’d save at least 80% of your marketing costs.
Buying from You
So, if media coverage and advertising don’t sell, then what does!?
As I’ve mentioned before, the only thing that results in sales is the value you offer to your customers.
If a customer asks “Why should I buy from you instead of X?” you better have a good answer. Not something you say just to make yourself feel or look better, but something REALLY COMPELLING.
Example question: “Why should I get electricity from Tuas Power instead of Singapore Power?”
Answer: “Tua Power also supplies electricity to Singapore Power, which then resells to you. Buying directly from us saves you 5% to 20%.”
Simple, right? That’s real value and cannot be disputed. That’s what you need to do for business. If you need to come up with some cock and bull story to convince people every time, you’re a great salesman, but you don’t necessarily have a great business model yet.
Personally, I’m currently looking at 2 business investments right now.
- A fashion boutique in Vietnam
- Up and coming tier 2 city
- Government announced development plans
- Likely to see huge growth in tourism within 10 years
- Prime location retail
- Differentiator is the design of the clothes
- Niche retail in Singapore’s expat market
- Very small market cap
- Only 1 other strong competitor in the industry
- Potential growth from expanding customers from expats to locals
- Partner brand is top global name worldwide
Both investments require around $150k upfront cash. Where do you think I’m going to put my money?
If you already know the answer to that, then apply that same though the process to your own business. Look at your business as if you’re analyzing a company on SGX.
- Is yours a company you would invest in?
- What are your industry trends?
- Is there a new segment you can expand into?
- Can you address any market gaps or under-served segments?
- What can you change about your product that makes competitors irrelevant?
For those too lazy to read the whole piece:
Press coverage, magazine articles, TV interviews => let people trust you
Advertising, digital marketing, flyers, door-to-door => let people know you
Delivering value to customers => make people buy from you
A balance of all 3 can give great results to any business. The difficult part is crafting that strategy, which greatly differs from business to business.