You have decided to fulfill your dream of launching the beauty product that every woman in the universe can’t live without. The next step is to get the word out there that you’ve single-handedly saved the world and created the best product ever! Reality check!!!! It’s not that easy – you have to determine exactly what you have a budget for… marketing and / or advertising. So here is the age long question: “Does your brand need advertising or PR?” Even if you decide to go grass roots in the beginning, you have to be savvy about the new world of social media and running your beauty empire in-house. We have asked some experts in the field of public relations, retail and branding to get their perspective on which will serve you better and where the industry is headed as it relates to PR and advertising.
Yvette Masterson, President of Y Public Relations
Retailers, online or in the traditional sense, don’t want products to sit on their shelves. Consumers have many options, and brands that want to build retail partnerships must convince beauty buyers that they are investing in promoting their product so consumers want to buy it. Advertising is still a great way to reach consumers, but for many brands, especially those starting out, they do not have the capital resources needed to maintain a large or even small scale advertising campaign. By utilizing public relations to deliver editorial placement, brands can get their products in front of trusted editors, writers, and bloggers who will highlight the benefits of the product and categorize it as a “must have.” Consumers are savvy, but they still trust what editors are saying about beauty products, which an advertisement can never truly do. There is room for both advertising and PR, but a lot of it is determined by what your brand has to offer, from packaging to distribution. My advice, especially for new brands, would be to start with public relations, build brand awareness, and then begin to integrate advertising on a strategic level down the road. Also, carefully consider what firm to partner with and don’t fall for anyone who “guarantees” you immediate results in the beginning. Public relations is a work in progress – strong follow through and relationships with the media is what builds the momentum for any brand’s success.
As a retailer constantly meeting with new brands, PR is very important! We will not sign new brands unless they have press efforts to support their business. A solid PR strategy can also become a blueprint for our partnership with a brand, helping us maximize their sales through increased site exposure during seasonal campaigns and product launches. This is how many other retailers operate; you need to create buzz in order to get the consumer to purchase your products. With an online retailer such as Beauty.com, where shoppers cannot automatically apply, touch or smell a product, editorial coverage helps build customer trust and reinforces their decision in making a purchase.
Lawrence Mortenson, Marketing & Management Consultant / Chief Marketing Officer at Beauty Collection
Advertising and PR both have their place. The marketing mix a brand chooses depends on its target market and the financial resources it has available. For a small upstart brand with limited resources, PR is probably the better way to go. Over time, a little investment in PR, combined with a lot of sweat equity, creates a prolific circle. Products get into the hands of key influencers who give them national exposure. This grows brand awareness and demand for the products which, in turn, opens the doors to more retailers, both online and off.
As an example, in the October issue of People magazine, a fabulous looking Kate Gosselin casually mentioned OLE HENRIKSEN’s Ultimate Lift Eye Gel as her secret “Botox in a jar.” The day the issue hit, OLE HENRIKSEN’s domestic brand awareness significantly increased and sales for the product specifically, and the brand in general, skyrocketed. No amount of advertising would have accomplished the same result or done more to create new customers for the brand. Celebrities have put countless brands on the map, and opened countless new doors. In other words, getting product into the hands of the right influencers can work wonders.
If monies are available to build a brand through traditional advertising, a marketing plan that incorporates PR as well as advertising may make sense. Thanks to online media and cable television, brands have the ability to speak directly to their target market, which makes advertising efficient. The combination of the two, done correctly, can grow a brand much more quickly. Targeted, direct marketing – especially in partnership with retailers – can also be a smart investment.
In the end, brands really need to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and craft an overall marketing plan that works for them. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, no single roadmap to success!