How To Sell Your Product or Service Like Elon Musk

Public Relations, Tesla, PR, PR Strategy, Value Proposition, Startups, Startup, Smallbiz

When I work with entrepreneurs I ask them repeatedly to tell me what their business does.     In the majority of cases they talk about feature and function, rather than about the value it delivers to their customers. It’s often the biggest hurdle to growing a business.

An effective value proposition focuses on the value to the customer.  It understands the problem that a product or service solves. Why? Because if you can prove a value over and above the sticker price the question of price tends to be a secondary consideration [this presumes the prospect can afford the price – a question of finding the right audience].

Let me give you an example.  Tesla announced yesterday it will launch a $35,000 electric vehicle in 2017.  Its current Model S sells for anywhere between $60,000 and $110,000. When customers talk about price what do you think the sales representative says?

“Imagine if you never had to buy gas again”.

Gas, the great variable in owning a car right now.  Let’s say you spend $100 a week on gas…

$400 a month. $4800 a year. $24000 over a five year period.  The car suddenly starts to look less expensive.  Factor in that gas prices will fluctuate – and are likely to continue rising…

You also have no expensive trips to the Shop for repairs.  No fluids. No oil changes.

Elon Musk is thinking about the perceived value to prospective customers and is looking at the total cost of ownership of a vehicle, rather than just the sticker price.  When you think about your product or service, consider what your customers will value most – and sell it to them.

How To Plan For Public Relations Success

Public Relations Espresso

We’re half way through the year and today my advice is that you take a long hard – and most importantly – honest look at your PR, marketing and publicity plans to see whether they are moving you closer to your commercial objectives for the year.

Today’s THINK PR Espresso explains a little more about how to create a plan that will enable you to see quickly and easily whether your PR, marketing and publicity is working.  Tomorrow I’ll explain how to tell if your current plan is working or not.

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What Use Is Hype

The common belief is that the more you hype something the more attractive it becomes to your target audience.  The truth is that the more you hype the less believable your claims become and the higher you set expectations, the more likely it is that you will fall short.

The 80:20 Rule of PR & Marketing

PR Espresso, Public Relations Espresso, THINK DIFFERENT [LY], PR for Entrepreneurs

You know the 80:20 rule, right?  80 percent of your new business comes from 20 percent of your customer-base – so why do the majority of companies not spend the same proportion of their marketing energy, resources and budget on one-fifth of their customers and audience-base?

10 Things PR Agencies Don’t Tell Startups & Smallbiz


Public relations can help an entrepreneur grow their business – but there are often huge barriers to entry.  Retainers are expensive, it is often unclear what a PR agency does, and many small businesses don’t feel they’ve the outcomes they wanted from public relations.

Here are ten things you should know before hiring a PR agency for your startup or small business.

1. If the first question an agency asks is, ‘what’s your budget?’ keep looking.

2. PR is about more than just media relations.  Most agencies sell media pitching services [publicity] and call it public relations.  If they don’t understand the fundamentals of public relations and are unlikely to be able to help you build the relationships you need to grow your business.

3.You don’t have to pay for a retainer.  Public relations programs should ebb and flow in parallel with your business and a retainer is simply a revenue guarantee for the agency.

4. Understand what you want the outcomes of a PR program to be. Set commercial objectives, not just hard to measure ‘awareness’ or ‘coverage’ or, the PR agency favourite, thought-leadership!

5. Expect to do some ground work before you do any outbound PR work.  Defining your audiences, fine-tuning your value proposition, getting the message right and figuring out the best way to deliver it are key pieces of an effective PR program.

6. The value of a public relations professional is in the advice you get, not in the activity done on your behalf. Most agencies charge based on the volume of activity they do, not on the quality of the advice they give.

7. PR is about more than just media relations.  Most agencies sell media pitching services [publicity] and call it public relations.  If they don’t understand the fundamentals of public relations and are unlikely to be able to help you build the relationships you need to grow your business.

8. You should be doing your own media outreach. Public relations is a strategic process of building relationships and if somebody else does your media work THEY have the relationships.

Journalists would also much rather to talk with you than a paid spokesperson. Hiring a PR agency often puts another barrier between you and the people who will help you grow your business.

9. Public relations should be something that touches all parts of your business – from sales to marketing, customer service to front of house.

10. Less is, often, more.  Quality always tops quantity and an effective PR plan will deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time and using the right delivery mechanism.

Also, review what you’re doing regularly.  Public relations agencies traditionally do annual reviews but in today’s real-time internet world you should be reviewing your PR plan at least every 30 days. It will enable you to make small tweaks and changes that will increase its effectiveness.

Building relationships

Steve Balmer says that the Startup community has a cultural problem.  Commenting at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford he said that there is an, incorrect, expectation that success and failure come quickly. The same is true for using public relations to build relationships.  Those that are patient and persevere, however, are more likely to build a sustainable business.

Friends, Folks and Followers…

Two words that I’m hearing online and in media interviews – friends and folks.  The first is increasingly used before a request for help – to share something or do something to increase their credibility online – or to get people to pay attention because, well a friend would, wouldn’t they?!  The second, is increasingly used after a statement to normalize it or to try and implore you to believe what has come before because the user is just like you.  Cut them some slack won’t you?

The two terms are – to my mind – used increasingly as communications tactics and are becoming increasingly ineffective.  I wonder why they’re using them – unless I really am their friend or ‘folks’ is a term that they’ve used for years.  Too often these terms are being used to manipulate; to win favour; for their advancement.  Not because it’s sincere.

So, next time you hear somebody address you as a ‘friend’ or as a ‘folk’ stop for a second and ask yourself why!