Branding, expert positioning and storyline development. It sounds like C-suite board meeting but every dealer should be thinking about these topics too.
Because as barefoot waterskiing champion, coach and commercial skier Zenon Bilas said, “Once you’re known, you’re known.”
He said regardless of the field, you have to be seen as the most knowledgeable person in the area.
“You’ve got to be the guru of whatever you’re doing,” said Bilas. “You want to be known as the place to buy a boat.”
Bilas, who routinely gets local, national and international TV coverage, said creating brand recognition through the media can propel a brand far better than traditional advertising ever could. Reaching people in their homes while they’re engaged is priceless.
Drumming up coverage, however, takes a little legwork or a good network.
The first thing is finding the story. TV stations, local papers and local magazines are often starving for a fun angle or interesting interview.
“For your business, you want to think about what’s interesting about yourself,” said Bilas. “But that’s tough for some people.”
He said that even people that shy away from the limelight have an interesting story.
“I think everyone has a story,” said Bilas, noting that a friend or family member might have a different perspective and can help find that story.
The second step is finding coverage. Sales-focused industry folks might find this part very easy.
“I contact them individually,” said Bilas.
A simple call or email to a producer or editor is sometimes all it takes. As a former journalist, Bilas said he knows all too well the struggle of a slow news day.
If that doesn’t work, leveraging that network might open more doors.
“Look for people you already know who might be connected – somebody knows somebody,” said Bilas. “That’s the best way to get in; unless you have a good PR agency, the best way to get in is look for someone who knows someone on the inside.”
Once those wheels are greased, a quick pitch or informal presentation can keep things moving.
Regardless of the story, from then on it’s looking the part of the expert; which will be easy to business owners in the industry. Oh, and don’t forget the logo.
“I’m very conscious about my logo,” said Bilas. “I wear it on my shirts, so if I do a TV segment, my logo is right there. It gives you added value to any promotion you do.”
After the interview, company profile or fluff piece, make sure you hang on to that coverage.
“The first thing I did was I’ve kept my history,” said Bilas. “So if I want to show my longevity, I can show them a link from when I was on TV back in ‘87. Showing it to you is 100 times stronger than saying it.”
Take an afternoon and think about all the different things your company does a little differently – chances are a hungry journalist will think it’s interesting too. Bask in the free exposure and demonstrate your expert status to all those prospective customers that might tune out traditional advertising.