The Challenges for PR Marketing in ‘The Long Tail’ Business

Afril Wibisono

Have you ever read  a book entitled ‘The Long Tail’ by Chris Anderson? Well, it’s definitely inspiring me, since he said in many parts that currently market forces are changing from old mainstream market (the usually market, not specific, common, ordinary) to a very specific market which are personal, unique, with high-value products or tend to be expensive. The market which often called as niche market sells extraordinary high value sale product and having a very personal touch at a certain level.

Then, which are the hell of products and services that included in this long tail business? As described before, the product mostly are very high value sale product, having very little demand, and its customer have own social classes, or community or self pride. For example, automobiles – Ferrari, motorcycles – Harley Davidson, paintings – Van Gogh, watches – Rolex, etc, which’s not included with other niche products that usually have high multifunctional.  For example, pen has many customers, but when a pen with feature hidden camera and recorder inside, it can be very few customers in there. There are many women chasing for latest fashion clothes, but sophisticated clothes with feature transparent enabling when you’re using on it, it would be specific demand from customers. Conclusion, the long tail is available but not in much presence, and very specific.

The long Tail Market

Well, now after the triumph of the internet in everywhere, the long tail business model become even wider than when there was no Internet at all. With the power of e-commerce patterns which are integrated with each other (eg, with multiple links, the keywords search engines, social media, podcasts, etc.), the long tail market’s increasingly easy – connected with its rare consumer. Moreover, there are greater chances for this business since competitor in the long tail likely would not as bloody as in the mainstream market. In fact, there could be a very few competitors which’s exist. So, what can PR do?

I bet every face of PR professional should be shiny flourish since internet era is on. Why? Because PR job is more challenging. It’s no longer (only) about chasing or down mass media list, and decide which media need to be approached. It’s no longer (only) having a great smile when our release shown at favorite magazine. It’s no longer (only) about proud feeling when seeing our CEO appeared in TV. Nooo ..! PR now should be more than that! PR now supposedly realizes that PR success measurement has changed since internet 2.0 is on. The success should be placed on what your ideal idea in your stakeholder’s mind, especially in your customers mind, which like it or not, customer is the most influenced people who determines your company success. I’m not saying PR is equivalent with sales. PR is not sales. But helping the sales to success, yes. PR is long term because having PR is investment? Well, of course, but doesn’t mean PR cannot be responsible for the unsuccessful products/services selling that has been along with a company year by year.

PR Marketing or Marketing PR (I want to remind it’s only one from other PR functions), has a primary duty helping marketing run into easily understood, clear, and trusted. So if marketing is usually to create ads or promotions in stores, PR is more likely in spinning way. PR is looking for an alternative way from other media to reach the initial goal. Not directly to intent, but just doing some spinning way so consumer would think, “Oo, okay, it’s reasonable..” For example what PR do, join in sponsorship, or even make sponsorship, approach media to release product news, create uniformity for emotional messages in each promotion (as I have discussed for the case Rinso, ‘Berani kotor itu baik’ ),  create offline events for its online community, and so on.

Well, back to the PR role for Long Tail or niche market.  I suggest PR in this business should really understand and care about their consumer’s behavior. What I want to share is, in this business, PR doesn’t need to be worry too much about their relationships with media in regards as a bridge to connect your company to consumers. Because, the fact is, there’s almost no else BRIDGE available between your unique product and consumer (except internet that you can build by yourself). Why? Because your customer is very unique, limited, and basely eager to be active to find what they need.  They’re not like a passive audience who see advertisement in media in some periods then they want to buy. They need more than that. They need trust, reference and second opinion. Your customers very realize that they really need added information about your product in order to gain the trust. And internet 2.0 enables them to look for what they want. The conclusion is, there is only you as a representative of the company and your customers. The key is, PR has to be smart to read the behavior of consumers, with focusing on behavior in web 2.0, for example is what keyword gonna be popular to be claimed by your consumer on search engine (Search Engine Optimization features).

All can be done in the world of web 2.0 for a PR Long Tail. For example, as a PR for a very unique natural dermal filler product for beauty and anti aging, which cost is quite expensive – approximately 5 to 7 million – (Restylane Indonesia), first I must know what exactly the template behavior for my consumer. Since they are upper-class people, there must be a huge possibility for them to join virtual world with their sophisticated gadgets. They may be so not well known about all the advanced technology, but they must have an email account, a member or Facebook or Twitter, engage in chat, read the online media, or at least to dwell briefly on the Google machine. Other else things, they must concern about how to look good, young and beautiful, so they’re very interest with various kind stories about it. I had to summarize the words (keywords) that are not only usual, but also unusual which could be asked by them on google. I should know how to deliver website with features enables them to gain the trust.  I must do many stories and educated information to fill in the content of web. I encourage their opinion in order to gain the trust. I don’t want to sell product, but I want to tell stories which contains answers for their questions. I don’t want to make them stunned only but more to make them believe. 🙂

There will be many public relations strategy that ideally do long tail. No exception on the model of the information presented. In the book that I really admire, ‘The New Rules of Marketing & PR’ by David Meerman Scott, said the success in defining information model is what makes a huge chance for PR to show their teeth.🙂 Here, David explains most salesman or marketing or oldies PR (hopefully we are not like oldies PR), just focus on how to make the information complete, get focus on the design, features, pictures, etc. They usually forget about the essence of why the first time consumers want to know your product or service. Why your product or service are worth to be their choice. What are the reasons? Are there any detailed explanations that support the unique features of your product? If so, what are the benefits? How about the way of your telling to make consumers believe ‘yes, this is what I’m looking for”?  You must make it sure all of this to make consumers not to think after seeing your website, “Ah, just advertising!” Then they’re looking for another product.

Actually, information model could be the next focus attention (especially in long tail business) after we understand what exactly our consumer’s behavior in online world. Consumers certainly do not look for long tail products in magazines or radio or other mass media. Long tail consumers certainly more trusting reference or a trusted colleague to try the product. Long tail consumer is not too fond in complicated performance, but more regards to information that made them believe. Long tail  consumer like Google more than ads in magazines.

Do many breakthroughs in finding strategic keywords for enhancing your SEO capability. Create strategic tags. Be available in in their online media, including frequently answering questions about the needs of this niche. Do not hesitate; add special links for any information needed. The more links to websites or blogs, the more likely they believe any of the products / services. Learn to play the story (not just concern about the brand image). Do not always focus on product information. But focus on what stories about consumers who tune to your long tail. Create communities for your loyal customers. Remember, references are very highly recommended for consumer’s long tail. So creating a community for your consumers is a must. Do not hesitate to work with other brands that have the same level, since they can leverage your potential for expanding your business.

I think that’s all. Any other breakthrough recommendations? Do, please. 🙂

Posted by Afril Wibisono

* this article’s available in bahasa indonesia

About afrilwibisono

Online and Digital Marketing are passion fieldwork for Afril. Start with career in LG Electronics Indonesia, Afril has gained multi cross experience on communication, public relations, marketing, digital and online marketing. She has worked at Rajakamar International Group , as Marketing Digital and Communication Division Head. Previously, she was Marketing Communication Manager at Rajawali Corpora - Express Group (2012), Corporate Communication Manager for Mensa Group, PR Manager for Restylane Indonesia and Digital Manager for Chicco Indonesia as well (2008 - 2011) . Now, she acts as CMO at 8commerce, a scalable end to end ecommence enabler. In weekend, she acts as official lecturer for marketing communication major in Bina Nusantara University. About her education history, in 2001 she finished her bachelor degree with cum laude status from Communication Universitas Padjadjaran. Then, in June 2010 she finished her master of communication management from Universitas Indonesia.
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