Over the past few years, we’ve seen large brands like IHOP and Burger King pull publicity stunts that gained a lot of attention. But can those same tactics work for smaller brands?
Entrepreneur and author Judge Graham believes they can. He said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “Smaller brands have got to be bigger and bolder and take riskier opportunities in order to get to that next level.”
Are You Prepared for a Publicity Stunt?
While there are certainly benefits to quickly gaining publicity for your business, there are still risks involved. So you need to be ready before taking that leap. Here’s what you should ask yourself before getting started.
Are You Ready to Grow Your Business?
If you’re happy with the level you’re at and want to simply maintain the status quo, then a publicity stunt isn’t for you. But if you’re looking to get your products or services in front of more customers, it’s at least worth considering.
Graham says, “The main benefit of a publicity stunt is exposure. When a small brand gains a lot of attention, especially in a social environment where a piece of content goes viral, you’re going to be exposed to new prospects or potential customers that had never heard of you before.”
Can You Sell Products at Volume?
If successful, publicity stunts tend to bring in a high volume of potential customers in a short amount of time. If you only work with one client a year, all that attention isn’t going to do you much good.
Graham adds, “Stunts lend themselves more to consumer packaged goods or products that you can sell at volume. If you have a service based business and a stunt helps you take off quickly, you can still only handle so many calls coming in.”
Do You Have a Clear Target in Mind?
Graham says, “Some brands try to do these huge, outlandish stunts where they try to catch the attention of everybody. But that’s much more expensive and harder to pull off.”
Instead of casting a wide net, it’s a good idea to treat your publicity stunt like another type of marketing campaign and target it specifically to your ideal customers.
Does Your Idea Call Attention to Your Value Proposition?
Graham says, “Your goal is ultimately to sell more of your product or service. So make sure the idea is rooted in that concept so you get the attention of people who are interested in your product and can pay for it.”
While your stunt doesn’t have to just be about your product, it should relate in some way. For example, if you’re creating a viral video, it could have a link at the end that brings people to a landing page that includes relevant info.
Does It Include a Call to Action?
In order for it to be effective, you should also have a call to action of some kind. It could be a link at the end of a video, a call to visit your store, a special offer – something. Otherwise, people may just enjoy or take note of your content without really interacting with your business.
Are You Willing to Take a Real Stance?
Publicity stunts aren’t meant to be boring. You have to do something out of the ordinary for people to take notice. That usually means creating some kind of mild controversy or talking point.
Graham adds, “You have to be committed. You can’t play around in the gray area. For this to be successful, it has to be black or white. You’re not going to get anyone’s attention by being vanilla.”
Does Your Stunt Avoid Anything Political or Offensive?
However, this doesn’t mean you should offend people or weigh in on the political scandal of the day. In fact, Graham says this is a good way to alienate half of your customers immediately.
He explains, “We’re in such a divisive political environment now. So I wouldn’t advise any brand, whether they’re big or small, to necessarily choose a side in that area. Things like that could be a little more controversial and risky. So try to take a stance on something that doesn’t involve politics or anything seriously offensive.”
Are You Willing to Invest in Creation and Execution?
If you want your publicity stuff to work, you should treat it like any other type of marketing campaign. That means you have to be willing to devote both time and money into it. Graham says you should focus most of your efforts and budget on the development of the idea, then on the media and the logistics of handling an increased order volume.
Can Your Company Logistically Handle New Business?
If your stunt is successful, it’s likely to lead to more customers for your business. If you’re not able to actually handle an increase in orders, then customers are going to have a negative experience that can potentially hurt your brand. The logistics may differ from business to business. But as yourself the relevant questions: Is your call center equipped to handle a larger call volume? Does your website have enough bandwidth to accommodate extra traffic? Can you fulfill orders at a faster pace than usual?
Are You Able to Measure Results?
Finally, you need to be able to determine in some concrete way whether your stunt was successful or not. So before you even get started, you should have some metrics in place and some type of goal for capturing attention or leads.
Graham says, “Try to measure the amount of views or email captures or something. It should always be rooted in measurement so you can look at it from that lense to determine how successful it was.”
If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then you’re probably ready to pull off a publicity stunt. If you had a few no’s, it doesn’t mean that you can never use this tactic. Just examine those factors and make changes if necessary. If you had more no’s than yesses, then a publicity stunt probably isn’t right for your business.
Photo via Shutterstock
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