Feature: Is exclusivity really serving your customers?

Are you exclusive?

Rule one of the marketing handbook suggests you should try and use a wide mix of appropriate channels to promote your product. Tailored, of course, but never relying solely on one outlet.

Sound advice – in the constantly evolving world of communication, the way we communicate with our potential audiences needs to meet their requirements.

Mrs Jones may prefer to get her information on your production online; Mr Smith may prefer the weekend paper, while Miss Green may download the latest information onto her iPad. All potential customers, all with different delivery methods but all wanting to know what’s on and if it’s worth spending their time and money on.

Ensuring your message reaches a relevant audience in a manner they prefer may not always be the easiest thing to judge but, in times of increased competition for attention, one that is vital.

So would you ever limit distribution of your message to just one organisation? It may seem a retrograde step in a multimedia world but one that some organisations seem to be actively considering, and in some cases have even implemented.

While being able to offer one outlet a period of ‘exclusivity’ on your message is nothing new, and can indeed help target your marketing for a specific product to the correct audience, is embargoing your entire output to favour a single outlet a wise move?

Yes, by offering that first shot you hope to guarantee prominent coverage but what if your target audience doesn’t read or view that publication? What happens if a bigger story comes along on the day your news breaks and you get bumped down order or even dropped? What happens if the organisation runs a negative piece on your organisation?

What about the impact of your coverage in other publications – can you realistically expect a story or review to run in other media several days after the exclusive?

There’s also the question of what happens when that exclusivity deal expires. Priorities change and, while a publication may think it a good commercial move to partner you at the moment, that may not always be the case. Then what do you do – go to those organisations that have had to rely on embargoed and second-hand information and try to persuade them that you now deserve coverage?

Have you also considered the sectors of your customers who don’t use that particular publication, are you going to lose their custom if they no longer feel they are being kept informed?

A breaking news story has a limited shelf life – the saying that today’s news is tomorrow’s chip wrapper has more than an element of truth. If that story from yesterday has already been treated as an ‘exclusive’ by another organisation, there is little value in another publication covering it and if they do it’s unlikely to be top of their agenda.

It is a tempting thought in a competitive world to try and get guaranteed coverage but there’s always going to be a cost. Does an exclusive deal really offer you and your audiences the best deal?

Originally written for Arts Professional Magazine

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