Category Archives: marketing

Choosing the Right Marketing/Public Relations Agency

We are looking for a new public relations agency in 2011.  What should we consider when conducting the search?

By Jim Sweeney

At the end of the day, every organization wants the same thing from its agency: results. Of course every agency will tell you they deliver results.

So what are the tangibles and intangibles that assure you are working with a product marketing and public relations firm that will deliver the results you want?

1. Experience, which also equals endurance. To last more than a few years in the highly competitive world of agency marketing, you need to consistently deliver results. But what type of experience do you look for? Simply put, the type that is most relevant for your organization.

Does the agency have experience in your industry? Does it possess relevant market experience? Does it know your customers and retailers and vendors and third-party influentials? Does it have experience developing and implementing the types of strategies and tactics you need to succeed – both traditional and digital? Can it offer proof – show you case studies and work samples and offer testimonials and references? Is the agency willing to work with you and other agencies – setting aside egos and profit motives?

Experience isn’t everything, but it definitely matters.

2. Edge, which also equals X-factor. Every agency likely possesses some magic formula – a unique brand skill – that sets it apart from its competitors. Not hyperbole or idioms or acronyms, but real, tangible skills. What’s the edge you are looking for, and does the agency you are talking to possess it?

Does the agency possess unique knowledge of your industry that goes way beyond general industry experience? Does the agency have a reputation for working fast or hard or both? Does the agency have a special ability to find and process information that gives your organization an edge? Does the agency have mad creative skills and/or exceptional strategic planning skills?

Can they offer offline and online services and integrate them to complement each other?

Assuming the agencies you like have the right experience, their unique edge should help you to identify frontrunners.

3. Tenacity, which also equals persistence. Marketing is not for the meek of heart. Does the agency possess the desire and ability and willingness to fight the good fight until it is over? At the first sign of a problem, do they identify alternate solutions or look for the back door?

Does the agency go the extra mile… regardless of whether it is requested? Does the agency push through the standard resistance in order to achieve the desired goals? Do they routinely monitor and measure and analyze results and make necessary adjustments? Does the agency take pride in its work and results – do they own it – before you even review and assess it?

Remember, winners never quit.


What to Expect When Launching an Online Product Sampling Campaign

We are launching an online product sampling campaign and are wondering how many product requests we should expect?


By Jennifer Manocchio

Online product sampling campaigns can be very successful in building company and product awareness, increasing product trial and driving sales. However, the success of the campaign and what to anticipate as far as product distribution really depends on a number of factors.

First, what type of product are you offering?  Does it have a broad reach?

Second, how do you intend to launch the online product sampling campaign?  Online advertising, email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter or a combination?

Third, what is the duration of the campaign?  Weeks, months, etc.?

Finally, are there any geographic boundaries on the shipment of the free product samples?

Since consumers tend to respond well to free product samples, see recent blog post “Product Sampling Proven to Drive Sales”, the campaign can easily go viral and word can quickly spread like wildfire online.

For example, we recently launched a blogger review and product sampling campaign for a leather and carpet cleaner. Twenty-seven leading bloggers, including mommy bloggers, pet and equine bloggers tested the products, wrote positive reviews on their blogs and encouraged readers to sign-up for a free product sample.  The offer for free product samples spread rapidly online.  We achieved more than 300 blog, Twitter and Facebook posts about the sampling campaign that drove tens of thousands of consumers rushing to the web site.

If you are concerned about receiving too many product requests, simply put a cap on how many full and/or trial size products you are willing to distribute.   For example, “the first 500 consumers to sign-up will receive a full-size sample, and the next 1,000 will receive a sample size product.”  This will also help ensure a quick response to your offer.

Launching a product sampling campaign and need help developing the strategy, implementing and measuring the campaign?  Contact me at jennifer at or 910.772.1688.

Product Sampling Proven to Drive Sales

We are considering conducting a product sampling campaign.  But product sampling can be expensive, and I want to ensure we achieve a return on our investment.  Is product sampling a proven strategy to increase product awareness and drive sales?


By Jennifer Manocchio

While there are many marketing strategies you can use to increase product awareness and drives sales, recent surveys confirm product sampling is a proven strategy for achieving both these objectives.  According to a recent Promotional Marketing Association survey, 75 percent of customers say they have become aware of a product through product sampling.

There is also data to confirm product sampling drives purchases.   In fact, 81 percent of consumers said they would try a product after receiving a sample, according to a December survey conducted by Opinion Research Corp. on behalf of the United States Postal Service. Additionally, 61 percent of survey respondents said sampling a product is the most effective way to get them to try a brand.

The key to product sampling is having a good product and targeting the correct consumer.  The most effective way to ensure a successful product sampling campaign is to start by developing a detailed plan with measurable objectives and a method for measuring the results.

Looking to implement a product sampling campaign or need to expand a current one?  Contact me at 910.772.1688 or jennifer at

Is Traditional Marketing Dying?

With interactive/social media gaining in popularity for marketing messages, do you think traditional marketing mediums will ever disappear completely? How do you think this shift in media has affected the way we market our brands? Will traditional marketing ever be at the forefront of marketing again?

We have a Focus Community member that is looking for some help with this – any insight?

Focus Community Manager


By Jennifer Manocchio

Traditional marketing is not dying, and it never will.  While we have more marketing tools in the toolbox than we ever had before, this doesn’t mean the more traditional tools will become obsolete.  Just like billboard advertising isn’t always the best strategy for the objectives you are trying to achieve or your target audience, social media isn’t always the best strategy for every objective or every target audience.

Also, while it is hard to believe, not everyone has a computer, Internet access or a mobile phone, and not everyone is on Twitter, Facebook or MySpace.

Consider these facts:

• Only 80% of U.S. households have Internet access.

• There are fewer than 10 million U.S. Twitter users (some reports say only 1 million).

• Facebook claims to now have 250 million global members; that’s just 3% of the global population and only a sliver of the United States population.

• Less than 90% of Americans have a mobile phone.

While interactive marketing and social media can be very effective at producing results,  so can many tools in the marketing toolbox.  It is just a matter of employing the best marketing strategies to achieve your objectives in the most cost-effective way.  In other words, it is about choosing the right tool for the job, regardless of whether that tool is your trusty hammer or your new high-tech drill.

Have questions about social media or mass marketing, contact me at jennifer at or 910.772.1688.