Measuring Product Publicity’s Return-on-Investment
Back in 1975 an article in “Advertising Age Magazine” entitled, “Money Can’t Buy This Kind of Advertising” went into a lengthy discussion about the value of publicity as a marketing tool. A major takeaway was a message sanctified by the “third party endorsement from an editor” is worth three to five times that of paid advertising.
That was the impetus for my creating The Venmark Corporation. I wondered, “If product publicity is so effective, why aren’t small businesses doing it?” Three reasons: they don’t know how to do it, conventional public relations firms weren’t structured to work with small business, and advertising agencies had a bias against “free publicity.” That created a niche to be filled.
I figured out how to succeed working with small businesses and founded, Venmark in 1977 to serve that niche. We began by doing business as Sales Development Associates and in 1989 became Venmark International. We’ve helped hundreds of small businesses get widespread product publicity and grow their companies during the past 34 years. What’s more, we’ve become a source of news and information for media outlets and have been acknowledged as “the best in the business” by many editors.
So, how do you evaluate the ROI of product publicity? As stated above, the three to five times rule is one method. I prefer the Microsoft Corporation method for evaluating publicity results. Essentially, they look at the expenses associated with preparing a press release and the result in terms of where you were published (at the discretion of editors) and what that press coverage would have cost if it were advertising. On that basis our experience for clients is that publicity consistently provides at least a 10 times better ROI then advertising.
Beyond the “cost of exposure advantage of product publicity,” there is the important benefit of increased organic SEO because of the link-popularity from being published in quality websites. In addition, of course, there’s increased website traffic and the reinforcement of a company’s message through repeated exposure all over the internet and in publications. In fact, the best way for a company to become perceived as a “problem solver” is by executing a consistent product publicity campaign illustrating how the features and benefits of your products actually solve problems.
And the final, most basic way of evaluating the return-on-investment of publicity is by tallying up the requests for quotes and actual sales. We have several smaller clients who have directly tied sales of $25,000.00, $35,000.00, $50,000.00 and more to specific product news releases we’ve prepared. Others have seen an increase in their e-commerce business.