Invisible Ink

Dec 28, 2009

If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

But some just don’t get it, even when they’ve got it.

You’d think that given an opportunity to present yourself — your company, its wares, its services — before an approving gathering of your own followers, just about everyone would do so. And you’d think that given the opportunity to do this for free, with just the cost of a little time and a little effort, and with thousands upon thousands of people who certainly might be repeat buyers of your products, that even more than just about everyone in business would do so.

Well, it doesn’t always happen.

And it doesn’t always happen more than you’d think.

In fact, it happens far less than it should.

Because even some of those companies with ideal products, products that everyone should know about, don’t want to take the time to tell you about it.

And, no, I’m not talking about advertising, per se. That pays the bills here, sure. Advertisers are important to us, just as we are important to them because we get their message out. Together we have a smart business symbiotic relationship. Advertisers understand the media, who and how far they reach, and how having one’s name consistently in front of the right people produces brand recognition that leads to sales; that’s Marketing 101. And for those who don’t understand or who are learning, it’s our job to help educate and get their message out to the right audience.

But it’s not only advertisers we help with informational messages. We lend an editorial ear and a hand to many others. In the media that’s called “free ink”— publicity. We afford a variety of restyling-related professionals a free-ink opportunity to offer up their knowledge, products or comments through news items, press releases and articles. Many, because of the exposure, later become advertisers. And, yes, there, too, are always those who shamelessly ask us (likely ask everyone) to promote their wares month after month without ever a thought of reciprocating. At least they’re being pro-active, flaunting what they’ve got.

It’s those, though, who [can I count the ways?] have it, but won’t take the time to flaunt it, who don’t see the free ink. Those who receive phone calls from writers seeking comment, from e-mail requests seeking product or news press releases, even calls from publishers or editors they know, but fail to respond.

I spent 15 minutes talking with a once-communicative soul who explained that the company owner wanted the slimmed-down staff to concentrate on the sales arena, and that providing editorial information for an article that would mention the company by name and show a photo of its product was time taken away from the primary mission of marketing the product and making those sales. In the time spent in a very courteous, understanding, commiserating and, essentially, “you’re preaching to the choir” explanation to me, the company contact could have given some spot-on answers for the article.

I’ve had frustrated writers call me when weeks pass, deadlines near and sources, who should be solid information providers, wither on the communication vine. Those companies’ names and photos missed the magazine and website boats, too.

No doubt the economy has stretched the internal capabilities of companies small, medium and large. Fewer people are doing more work with fewer resources, perhaps working even longer hours for, maybe, even less pay. That’s become the rule in today’s world. I understand; our ship runs as tight as anyone’s. But when it’s vital to our business we add in the extra effort.

I’ve worked in other industries wherein I’d also find some companies that, for whatever reason, failed to take such free publicity advantages, especially in such an economy when having your firm’s name, product or service marqueed before thousands upon thousands of prospects was crucial to its sales and marketing plan.

And I still shake my head wondering why.

Free ink? Nah, more like invisible ink.