These past weeks I have been spending a great deal of time looking at a wealth of new tools whose genesis dates, in most instances, from the Internet. As communications become both more personal and immediate, the scope of the tools available from corporate blogs to social networking is tremendously exciting. Their potential impact on business, in particular on marketing, is profound, not simply impacting how we communicate but changing how we connect.
At the same time I am struck by how we tend to look at the world as either/or, especially as it relates to new techniques and technology. None of the exceptional companies whose wiki, blogging or RSS tools I have reviewed or whose leaders I have met with has utilized traditional marketing tools (advertising, PR, direct mail, etc.) to promote their products relying instead on the power of the Internet. Leveraging the of the Internet is very important, fundamental to building relationships and customer success. However, to develop a new market, companies, even early stage companies, must build a market presence, and it’s a massive educational task.
PR should not be the first or second thing a start up considers in building its marketing arsenal, but it has an important place. We simply can not attend enough meetings, make enough presentations, reach enough desktops to promote our products or companies without the help of the all of the tools in the marketing mix.
Good PR can make the task so much easier, create awareness and credibility, educate customers and drive people to our sites. Done well, it can help a company differentiate itself from its competitors, create a larger market, and build momentum faster than the company can do on its own.
The new competitive advantage is not about replacing one set of tools with another but using them all, fine tuned to a company's business objectives, market, and channel.