Paulius Stankevicius is a CEO and founder of Stankevicius MGM, professional PR and advertising firm and Stankevicius Group which focuses on mainstream business including advertising and trading. Paulius Stankevicius has worked with Fortune 500 companies and over 500 clients internationally on public relation and advertising matters. In this interview Paulius Stankevicius shares professional insights on advertising and public relations.
1. As a branding professional could you share professional insights on how to successfully market a business during a crisis market such as COVID-19?
Surviving the crisis is all about showing the strength and keeping up the balance between the public image and reality of internal business processes and management. During the crisis of COVID-19, most of the SME and corporate size companies lost revenues, clients, and due to lack of sustainable strength in branding, most importantly they lost public image. When the public loses faith and belief in a company, word goes around quickly enough and it touches matters of investor relations and client relations, and this is where competitors who are aware of weaknesses of their rivals, overtake them through strategic marketing push.
How to avoid this? Don’t let your brand down, don’t stop marketing, don’t stop advertising. In fact, quite the opposite, increase advertising spending because during the crisis nobody spends on advertising which makes standing out more easier than usual. It is important to show that your business, regardless of the actual reality, is keeping up strong and showing all of the unique points of sustainability, market domination, ROI generation, extraordinary client experience and support, and a certain level of aggression giving fear to competition.
2. What are your favorite marketing techniques?
The best marketing technique in my opinion is, no questions asked, media relations in combination with advertising, and not just regular advertising such as paid ads on social media but more advanced, iconic outdoor advertising and online top tier magazine advertising. As far as media relations go, getting published dozens of articles in global and also local media on a quarter basis is just enough to maintain a stronger and better brand image from the public perspective which includes investors, clients and new prospects.
3. How do you utilize advertising and PR to brand a business from zero to hero internationally?
I say it depends on the company’s starting background. If the company is established enough, a certain strategy will be applied. If the company is new, then a more rapid strategy should be applied. What is a rapid strategy? Rapid strategy is a special plan and a program of 3-6 months of constant outdoor advertising and constant online media presence internationally and not limited to the base of the client's target audiences. At this time, we would be looking at publishing at least 10-20 unique articles every month together with outdoor advertising in airports, and iconic locations around the world which gives a certain level of exclusivity and prosperity value to the brand. Know that spending on marketing is actually investing in the brand. The more you invest in the brand, the more expensive brand becomes. Everything is long term of course.
From a professional marketing strategy point of view for more established businesses, more sophisticated and targeted methods would apply. For instance, investment management firms, brokerage firms, financial startups, consulting startups and other businesses from the professional service industries should aim at professional media relation channels. These would include getting a presence on Bloomberg and Forbes media for instance. Whether to choose a print or digital ad editions would depend on the client base, but having a business in a strong media channel increases the monetary value of the brand’s overall.
4. What steps do you recommend for startups, SMEs and corporates to create a unique image of a business?
I see a lot of marketing managers and founders are not certain enough, not brave enough and not complete enough to enter into the media and advertising space. We often hear answers such as we are not ready and we will do it then when we will have the product ready and in stores, and when our business will grow bigger. In reality, business cannot grow and cannot sell without marketing. Competition over products and services has never been higher and more intense than it was yesterday, but tomorrow the same competition will use new techniques and new methods to surpass their rivals. Everyday companies evolve and everyday’s evolvement involves marketing, and only the ones which utilize marketing correctly get the share of the market.
Do you know how many times I approached marketing executives and founders of even larger enterprises and not only startups, yet they said their product is not ready to reach a 10 million audience advertising campaign. Question is, how many years are you planning to build the product before you start marketing? In my opinion you should start marketing before you even start building the product. You should sell your products or services before you even have things settled up. This is where marketing intersects with business strategy. In the early stage of the product, utilize marketing to gain feedback from users, customers, and investors. Use the feedback to evolve your products and services. You can find out that your product maybe wasn’t good enough or interesting enough for your audiences in the first place. Without early testing you can’t say for sure, and if you would have waited for market reaction longer and would have invested more capital into your product development, it could have been a loss.
This is just one of the examples how marketing can collaborate with business strategy. Mainly marketing partners up with the sales department, but in my view, marketing can also strategically work with internal executive business processes.
Additionally, I would like to underline the fact that local companies conducting business locally should perform global advertising and do international marketing reach. Even if selling locally, global presence regardless of the size, still gives an extra benefit on closing deals and giving good impressions to clients, new prospects and investors.
5. Where do you see the advertising industry, its importance and influence going in the coming years?
If you are a new brand, a new product or a service firm, you will need sales and you will need marketing. Sales is something to go chase, push and grab. Marketing is something that convinces, attracts and brings. Connecting, chasing with attraction, and grabbing with convincing kind of matches up. Even large corporations can’t live without marketing. They spend hundreds of millions and billions for annual branding campaigns and new product launches. Advertising is something that creates a certain illusion and image, and public relations is something that manages crowd control of different categories of people. Professionals use these two to connect and influence, or others may call it, connect and manipulate. That is what advertising is kind of all about.