A Lesson From the Recession

We all know someone who has suffered a heart attack and it prompted them to change their lifestyle. They started a healthy diet and began an exercise program to live better and prevent another potentially fatal heart problem. Lesson learned.

The recession was a heart attack for most companies; especially small manufacturers and distributors who need to market products. During the recession, we were all faced with the dilemma: it is a great time to advertise, but money is tight!


That is where product publicity – with its 10 plus times better ROI than advertising gets the job done.[1] This assertion is based upon the Microsoft Corp. method for evaluating the return-on-investment of publicity.


Why is product publicity especially valuable during a recession? There are several reasons, all of which are true during good economic times, but become amplified during the bad times; when companies are suffering. That is the real post-recession marketing lesson.


Steve Jobs of Apple knew the power of product publicity when he marketed the Macintosh at Macworld 1984. His presentation itself was as creative and newsworthy as the new computer he was introducing. I recall that he removed the Mac from a bag, placed it on a table, plugged it in, put in a floppy disk and then the Macintosh introduced him with a very entertaining narrative in a monotone computer voice. That was brilliant! It captured the attention of the audience and the media and led to several interviews that provided the “news coverage” which launched the Macintosh; without spending a dime for advertising.


In good economic times and bad, product publicity is the best way to get widespread exposure and enhance the credibility of your products and services. Why? The answer is magnificently simple: because product publicity is news. Editors are telling their readers about you in the news and editorial sections of the media. That is why readers are reading the magazine or visiting the Web site in the first place; for the news and information. According to Al Ries, co-author of The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, “The PR message has credibility because it comes from a presumably unbiased source. Furthermore, you expect the media to tell you about things you’ve never heard of. That is what news is all about.”

[1] Venmark International multiple case studies on file.


Steve Stroum

Steven M. Stroum, founder and president of Venmark International is a seasoned publicist, marketer, and entrepreneur who has been featured in INC Magazine, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, Industrial Marketing, OMNI Magazine, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, The Middlesex News, San Francisco Chronicle, and other media outlets. He has also appeared on numerous radio and television programs, addressed many business and civic groups, and been a guest lecturer at Boston College, Babson College, MIT, and his alma mater Northeastern University.

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