Coming through the marketing and corporate communications ranks of several large industry manufacturers over the past two decades and watching countless others operate, one thing we all learned is how to budget. There wasn’t money to do everything, so it was all about prioritizing – e.g., investing in those segments or channels which were perceived to deliver the biggest payback. Sometimes a majority of effort and funding would get devoted to just one or two large targets, who may or may not have appreciated or even been aware that they were the recipient of the bulk of our resources. In my opinion, the result of our strategic ‘choosing sides for basketball’ exercise was often more deeply felt by those who didn’t get selected – the targets who, by our actions, were left to conclude that their business wasn’t significant enough to us to justify our meaningful outreach. During interactions with them, this sense of alienation and frustration would often reveal itself in the most innocent ways, through basic questions like “what new products do you guys have?” or declarations like “your people never visit me.”
Today, I counsel companies with a simple fact: you’re only as good as the quality of your Public Address system. You could have the best products and programs in the world, but if nobody knows about them, what good are they, and why aren’t you maximizing your initial investment in them? Companies should be strategically employing the variety of mechanisms we have – salespeople, corporate communications, PR, ads, etc. – to help ensure that we’re leaving no stone unturned and no audience disenfranchised, no matter their size. Our broad marketplace is comprised of many smaller groups, all of whom contribute to the total audience and all of whom deserve our attention and recognition in some way. It’s our obligation to find creative and affordable ways to address and engage them – and it can be done!