Generating consumer interest and leads should begin long before a paid direct-to-consumer media campaign launches. And building anticipation among target consumer constituencies is the goal of a broad-scale advance phase—the four- to six-month period prior to the launch of the actual direct response campaign—led by an aggressive earned media (public relations) strategy.
The advance phase creates buzz, begins to position the product before it is introduced into the marketplace, and initiates a level of consumer trust and interaction. Most importantly, advance editorial placements will reinforce the paid campaign and help provide a form of insurance policy for media investment ROI.
Today, video and digital media are cornerstones of the advance phase. Lower costs for video production equipment—HD cameras, audio and lighting packages, and editing software—and streaming can transform any product website into a media destination. Whether or not marketers opt to invest in professional video production, they can easily produce content about the product including demonstrations and expert interviews and place it on social media platforms. The material appearing on social media can drive consumers to the product website, where more supporting content lives.
Begin advance work by offering consumers information that explores the bigger picture—the category in which your product resides. If you are marketing a fitness product, for example, focus original video not only on the product, but also on the many issues of concern to consumers shopping the category. A few examples of topics that might be addressed by your video content: obesity among kids and teens; the right and wrong exercises for a particular age group; and the holiday season and overindulgence.
A dedicated original content area at your product website can offer ongoing, expert-centric segments; empower consumers to become early adopters and correspond with the company to foster consumer interaction; and serve as a source of additional content for social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Vimeo.
Generating consumer interest and leads should begin long before a paid direct-to-consumer media campaign launches.
Pitching specific issues and having experts address them helps the product ride the coattails of the issues. In this way, product-based publicity addresses the needs of media outlets wishing to explore the issues, while not necessarily promoting specific products.
Video can help national and local daytime bookers better appreciate the nuances of a media pitch. For publicity purposes, video content can take the form of a video news release (VNR), which can either be fully produced to resemble a field-reported newscast, or include B-roll footage and a script for newscasts to edit. Note that the latter practice is in decline, particularly among the top markets; if you choose to use it, make the story compelling.
During the advance phase, you’ll identify experts who can address issues surrounding the product category (they may be company principals, associates, or paid experts); produce content featuring the selected experts for your product website; produce content for all pertinent social media platforms as a mechanism to drive viewers to the product website; and produce VNRs as part of the media pitching process and in preparation for bookings that coincide with the paid media campaign launch.
Using the power of video for storytelling, expert guidance, and demos is central to the advance phase—and critical in today’s world, where consumers look online to conduct research before they make any purchase.