Are Consumer News Publications Better Than Trade Publications For Reaching Your Target Market?

I’ll admit that sometimes they make me feel guilty.

They sit in the corner of my desk, ignored, orphaned and gathering dust.  They arrive on time, every month, and I push them aside in favor of more mission-critical tasks.  I really don’t throw them away until they start piling too high for me to see over them, but I feel guilty when I discard them without looking at them.

They are my trade magazines, and while I’d never cancel my subscriptions, I am as guilty as most people of ignoring them.  On the other hand, I never fail to read Tampa’s major daily newspaper every morning (with coffee cup in hand) and monitor certain news websites.

Over the years, I’ve observed that I’m not alone – most of us business owners and executives are diligent about maintaining our trade subscriptions but not diligent about actually reading them in a timely fashion.

In a nutshell, that’s why the mass media is actually a smarter bet for reaching a niche audience, even if it’s a business-to-business audience.  At the end of the day, we can’t be sure if business decision makers are reading the trade publications and Web sites.  But, the important thing to realize is that they aren’t just business people.  They are consumers, like you and me, and like you and me, they definitely read their daily newspapers and general interest Web sites.  So, if you want to reach them, you have a much better chance of getting to them where you KNOW they are, as opposed to where you HOPE they are.

There is one other needle to thread, however, and that is, how do you get a B2B message into a consumer press article?  It’s not like the Joe the Plumber cares about companies that sell building supplies to contractors or that make ingredients for health supplements.

Or do they?  Two clients we represented over the years fit those descriptions perfectly.

A few years ago, we represented a company who manufactured an ingredient for natural health supplements aimed at bolstering the immune system.  Keep in mind, the manufacturer did not sell a single thing to the consumer, but rather, they sold the ingredient to supplement manufacturers, who would use the ingredient in their consumer products.  The way we approached it was to write and distribute an AP style article about the different things people could do to prevent colds and the flu.  Of course, the benefits of the client’s ingredient were mentioned as one of the tips in the article.  As a result, the article was widely distributed to the mainstream consumer media, and received a good number of placements.  The client was happy because it raised awareness about the ingredient and its value to the consumer – and helped their sales to the supplement manufacturers because of the consumer buzz we had created.

Currently, we are representing a client whose company manufactures a concrete outdoor paving product, which is less expensive to the consumer and easier to install for the contractor.  The company does NOT sell directly to the consumer – but they needed to reach consumers so they would ask contractors for the product.  The client also wanted to reach contractors who would offer their product to their customers as well.

Our approach with this client was similar.  We went out to TV, radio and print media with a story about how consumers can avoid outdoor renovations scams.  By positioning the client’s top executive as a consumer advocate and expert in the field, they were able to reach consumers by appearing in the mass media.  But they also reached quality contractors, who read their local daily papers and tune into their local radio and TV news shows, but who may not be reading their trade publications!  In this process, my client is quickly establishing themselves as experts, advocates and makers of a quality product.

So, the trick is figuring out what aspect of your B2B message appeals to consumers, and then building your B2B message into a pitch for a print story or radio or TV interviews that puts the consumers first.

By the way, I’ll probably leaf through one or two of my trades this week, if for no other reason, than to expunge my guilt – but not before I get through my morning paper!

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