Marketing industry veteran Lonny Kocina has smart advice for coping with today’s challenging marketing environment
When an unexpected event of national or global scale dramatically changes the marketing environment, such as what’s happening now with the coronavirus, how should marketers respond? How do you get your best salespeople in front of clients and prospects when events are cancelled, travel is restricted and most people are working from home?
“The marketing environment normally changes at a snail’s pace,”’ says Lonny Kocina, CEO at Media Relations Agency. “There’s usually plenty of time for most companies to adapt. But when things happen fast, it’s important that companies respond quickly to rebalance their promotional mix.
“The one promotional mix channel most impacted by social distancing is personal selling. You’re not sending teams to expos and events. You can’t even sample consumers in grocery stores. What you lose in personal selling marketing power, you’ll have to make up in marketing power using other promotional mix channels.
“Beefing up publicity efforts is a quick way to replace some of the face to face contact that will be lost with the lack of personal selling. That’s one place you can still reach the big groups. Publicity as a sales tool is underutilized by most companies and it is relatively easy to ramp up. Putting your best salespeople in front of reporters and producers who have big audiences is always a win. Plus, unlike expos and trade shows, your competition isn’t right there beside you. I see a lot of trade show money shifting toward publicity and media coverage.”
How can you squeeze into the media’s conversations if your product seems unrelated to the headlines? “As the coronavirus spreads, there’s going to be a market for stories that take people’s minds off their troubles. Instead of worrying about protecting themselves or when toilet paper will be available again, people will seek out fun, interesting stories as a means of relief. As people get burned out and begin to turn away from the bad news, the media will be looking for ways to change the narrative so they can hang onto their audience share. We’ve arranged tens of thousands of product new stories over the last 30 years so we’ve seen this demand for good news stories to offset the bad ones many times before.”
Kocina adds, “We’re also going to see some of the marketing horsepower absorbed by websites and social media as well. Marketing through the internet is, after all, a great way to maintain social distancing!”
Kocina makes another important point, “When you’ve got to change marketing strategies on the fly, you’d better have the basic marketing concepts down pat so you can make intelligent marketing decisions. Many marketers ride the wave in good times without fully understanding what underpins good marketing.” Kocina should know, he’s a best-selling author who wrote, “The CEO’s Guide to Marketing; the book every marketer should read before their boss does.” Kocina says he’s telling on the industry. He claims most CEOs would be shocked at how little their marketing teams actually know about marketing concepts and process.
Kocina predicts that the marketing environment will have long-lasting social implications but economically we will return to normal relatively quickly. As for promoting your company and products in the short term, he stresses that now is no time to be shooting from the hip. “Know your marketing terms and concepts, and how they relate to one another. Understand what’s happening with the marketing environment and how that relates to other concepts such as the marketing mix, where your product is in its life cycle and the innovation adopter curve. Whether it’s in response to this pandemic or the next major event, understanding basic marketing concepts and following a sound marketing process will make your business agile and responsive.”
Biography: Lonny Kocina, Chief Executive Officer, Media Relations Agency
Lonny is a visionary who is passionate about marketing. He has successfully steered the agency he founded and still runs today through 30 plus years of economic ups and downs. His is adamant professional marketing advice and deliverables must be based on solid concepts and a clearly defined process. He has made it his mission to help teach marketers improve their understanding of marketing and ensure that marketing budgets are spent wisely. He is sharing his knowledge of concept and process through his bestselling book The CEO’s Guide to Marketing.
Lonny also pioneered the concept of our nationally trademarked Pay Per Interview Publicity® business model which enables clients to purchase publicity by the story rather than by the hour. “It’s a familiar concept. If you pay for a pizza, you get a pizza; if you pay for a car, you get a car; and with us, if you pay for media coverage, you get media coverage,” he explains. “Businesses love it because they are tired of paying hourly retainers and getting little tangible return.”
When the internet was in its infancy, Lonny had the business foresight to quickly reserve portal web addresses such as publicity, media relations and checkerboard, and advised clients to do the same.
More than 30 years after launching Media Relations Agency, Lonny’s still finds great joy thinking about, talking about and writing about product promotion.