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Developing a Thematic ReleaseSM Program
for Channel Marketing

Copyright Jeffrey Geibel, All Rights Reserved

Channel marketing often requires slightly different sales and marketing messages for different channels. One way to address this would be to have separate marketing programs for each channel. A flexible and cost effective way to support these programs is to develop a Thematic Release program for each channel. A Thematic Release is a tight, self-contained document that takes a specific theme and uses it as both sales and marketing collateral, and as a catalyst for the media to develop that release into editorial coverage - with enough flexibility for them to take that theme in a unique direction for that publication.

A Thematic Release can cover just about any topic - your technology, your management's ‘vision' (meaning how your products or services will solve your customer's business problems), a commentary on evolving industry standards (such as Wi-fi) or even contemporary topics of the day (such as corporate accountability.) One common thread should run through all of your Thematic Releases, however - they should all relate back to your competitive distinction and sales message.

A Thematic Release can be developed and distributed in about a six to eight-week time frame. By that time, you should have another theme to work on (maybe a half-dozen a year.) With a half-dozen cogent, content-rich Thematic Releases distributed to the sales force and the media over the course of a year (and of course, posted to your web site) you have gone a long way to using public relations for its ultimate sales and marketing purpose - communicating your credibility, competitive distinction and sales message - directly to your different markets (channels).

Here are the characteristics of a Thematic Release, which serve to quickly distinguish it from the more common, content-free press release, 'white paper', case study or sales collateral:

A Specific Focus or Theme: The Thematic Release is distinguished by a specific theme in the first paragraph, which is expanded and built upon in the rest of the document. It leaves no doubt in the mind of the reader what the intent of the release is, or where it is leading them.

Tie-In to Industry Topics or Events (Extroverted): Unlike the common self-absorbed press release, the Thematic Release keys into industry events which serve as ‘reader navigation markers'. For example, if you're advocating a hosted application (ASP), you discuss various alternatives, then your logic (bias) for your application. A more typical self-absorbed release would simply ignore the other options, hence causing the reader to recognize the obvious bias.

Very Tight Structure -both Words and Ideas: Anyone who reads a great deal of material hates wasted words and useless concepts (so guess how much prospects hate conventional releases and sales collateral?) A Thematic Release gets right to the point, and then ‘moves through space with minimum waste'. This serves to hold the reader's attention, and increases their comprehension - which is exactly your marketing objective.

Lack of Hyperbole and Jargon (Clarity): Hype and jargon are dead give aways that the reader doesn't understand what they are writing about. A fake usually hides behind obfuscation. Plus, hype and jargon increase the probability of misunderstanding, and will frustrate the reader. All good reasons to skip them entirely, unless they are widely accepted acronyms. (Here's an example - What does 'AMA' stand for? The American Medical Association, the American Marketing Association, or the American Motorcycle Association? It all depends on how the reader is accustomed to seeing that reference. So it is best to spell out your intended use.)

As Many Content-Rich Quotes as Possible: If you (or your reference account customers) are going to say something, then be specific and stand behind it. The emphasis here is ‘content-rich'. The speaker's comments should complement the narrative of the Thematic Release - in other words, skip the simplistic phrases such as "We have good products, great employees and wonderful customers." (That is an actual published quote.) Why are you different than your competitors? What problems do your products solve? Why should someone buy into your approach?

C-level executives are accustomed to giving (and receiving) a ‘30-second elevator speech' which serves to introduce, position and explain their company to someone who is unfamiliar with them. In a similar manner, the Thematic Release can explain any given element of your company's existence: technology, products, business model, strategy, competitive environment or potential, just to name a few. When developed explicitly for your marketing channels and distributed across them via the sales force, your web site and the media, the Thematic Release becomes a powerful tool for using public relations methodologies to help you accomplish your sales goals.

© Jeffrey Geibel - All Rights Reserved

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