"The history of PR is… a history of a battle for what is reality and how people will see and understand reality."
– Stuart Ewen
In the business of perception, encouraging a buyer to the extent that they see things as the seller intended is quite a task. Given that factors allowing purchase or otherwise will be in flux in one way or another, the person creating this perception must take many factors into consideration to be able to come up with a sellable balance.
Whatever it is that one is selling, either a good or service, I believe there has to be an entry angle into the market. For some products, this angle is self-evident, but for others it isn’t, and for those that seem self-evident, the market might be so saturated with the particular product that one needs a ‘spin’ to entice buyers to purchase. Take for instance, people will always eat and drink, with this as a general premise and assuming that as long as the market exists then the proprietor of the business shall make a profit is false. This form of deductive argument is too simplistic. There are underlying factors such as location, target market, pricing, the general cost of doing business that must be taken into consideration before making the plunge.
Hence, we must always speak of an angle, a spin, market perception, product marketing also assuming all other factors necessary to start the business or sell a particular product or service are constant or have been established.
In the recent past we were tasked with in essence selling a product that had a very specific audience. For an educated guess, if I was to put a figure on its following in Nairobi, I’d say only one person out of a ten thousand* people would be a staunch follower, in other words the community is quite a small one. Now given these approximations, how does one bring the larger market to embrace this product? It is seen as elitist, ‘out there’ and not in touch with the locals kind of product. Therefore, assume your market is 100 people, all who are representative of Nairobi, its racial, social and economic backgrounds all considered. How do you get a good number of these 100 to indulge in this product?
This is where ‘the angle’ comes in. When a product has so much going against it, then the best thing to do to sell the product is not sell it. Sell it by not selling it, deflection. Make people buy bio-gas by reminding them that by their use of fossil fuel, they are actively killing the earth. Advertising something that is not directly related to the product or service you want bought, selling an item without directly selling it.
For a PR and Communications agency, this deflection is the key to the kingdom, in this way your clients end up being true to your product most of all because they feel that that was their choice and they weren’t beguiled into it. But herein lies the rub, how does one sell a product without selling the product? It’s like quenching your thirst without drinking water. The agency must learn to think of the end objective, is it the feel of water running through your throat that is most important or is it rehydration? If it is the former then the keys to the kingdom will always prove elusive. On the other hand if it is the latter, then this may be done intravenously and subsequently the product has been sold without being sold.
* the statistics have no scientific basis.
“All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”