Stop abusing the term “PR and Brand Awareness”

This morning I was conducting an Interview of a young lady for the marketing position in my company. I explained various activities we do to market our products and the prime channel of marketing for us is Online and Email/Database marketing.

I explained to her in depth about the role and why we are doing what we are doing. All things went fine till she asked; “Would I be sending emails only? What about Direct Mailers, PR and event?”

Well it’s not just her. In India, for long, marketers have abused the term “brand awareness and PR”, in the pretext of in-ability to link it back to the expenditure done on marketing to sales conversion. Every time they had to do a brand awareness campaign, they want to spend marketing dollars on things which are least likely to give you the Brand Awareness and the worst ROIs.

I mean, even in today’s world if you say it’s a brand building activity and are not talking about the ROI, trust me you are bitten by something called as “Brand building pretension bug” and you are in a mythical world of Greek creatures waiting for some miracle.

I asked her, what are the things she wishes to do apart from email and online marketing? She said Direct mailers, Press Conference and Print ads.

I said “alright let’s start from the beginning”.

Direct Mailers: How much would one spend on creation of a direct mailer? Include the cost of designer, printing, envelope, couriering. We did some in-air calculations and arrived at approx INR 60/- per mailer. Now let’s assume we have to reach a database size of 10,000 people. So we spend approx INR 600K. Now let’s say the average cost of sales per product in the case in point is INR 15K. Therefore considering a very generous response rate of 2% you have 200 responses (though I don’t know if we can track the call to action back to the mailer). Let us assume we could. Now you have 200 people to whom you can start pitching, and with my experience I see the final leads to quotes to sales percentage would never go beyond 5%. So we are talking about 10 people who finally bought the product.

But it does raise some questions:

Did your DM reach the right person?
Do you know your Direct mailer was opened by someone?
Do you know your direct mailer was read by someone?
What happened? Did the person take the desired action on the mailer?
Lead creation time?

Let’s get down to business:

Interesting revenue generated: 15K (cost of product) * 10 (leads converted) = 150K. ROI = (150-600)/600= Loss of 75% on Marketing Investment
Ok let’s be generous: 20 people bought: 15K* 20 = 300K = ROI = (300-600)/600 = Loss of 50% on the marketing investment.
Let’s be more generous: 50 people bought: 15K * 50 = 750K
ROI = (750 – 600) / 600 = 25% profit. Oh I forgot to add the salary component of the marketing person. The cost just went up and this 25% loss became 0%.

No gain no loss. Do you need marketing?

Email Campaigns: Now let’s take another scenario:
We created an Email (design cost + email sending cost) per email = INR 5
We sent 10K emails = 10K * 5 = INR 50K

Now you can track if someone opened the mail, clicked on it, replied to it and more.
Within one day you have 200 leads.
Let’s assume the same leads getting converted: 10, 20, 50
ROI for 10 = (150K – 50K)/50 = 200% profit.

I don’t need to delve into simple maths any more

PR/Press Conference/Print-Ads

A small situational analysis here:

“Let’s assume that you went for a sales visit and are talking to the client. Do you ever say,” sir can you please open the newspaper of a particular date 2 months old?” Or “open that magazine page so and so, from 3 months ago?” Obviously not!

So if someone is an avid reader, they would have read your company’s press coverage or they would have read that magazine advertorial. However, you took an assumption here and if the assumption of an avid reader is taken away, it’s a rare chance that your coverage reached the right people at the right time.

However, the question is, how do you leverage the PR to work for you every time, non stop? How to make every single dollar spent on PR, Press Conference or print ads work for you?

Simple way of arriving at the answer:

Ask anyone around you at your work place or home or your sports game or a shopping mall, “what do you do when you need some information?”
Most common answer would be: “I google it.”
If people are searching the information online, then isn’t it obvious that your company’s PR related information should be available online?
Having said that, many companies are already doing it consciously or unconsciously, but is it the part of your planned strategy?
Are you making a conscious effort towards your web presence strategy?
It’s easy to make your online strategy and PR strategy work for you.

Strategy 1: Conversational Email Hyper-Linking: – While you are having an email communication with your client, subtly give a small link for the online press release which came just at the right time. This online press release link works immediately where your client will see it. Not just newspaper, but even the online media is talking about your company. While you were pitching to the client, this press release immediately added to your credibility. Also, you can use this online presence any time.

Additionally, while people will search for certain information online your “Search Engine Optimized” press release will come-up as a search result in google. And your customer might just land at the right page on your website and gets excited about what the press is talking about you.

Oh! And do not forget to use these links in a conversational way. Which means, while you are writing a message, create a conversational dialogue and hyperlink with a couple of words and link it to the press link.

Strategy 2: Email Signatures Hyper-Linking: -This is a simple one. Use your email signatures in text with a link to your press coverage. People have been using their email signatures as banners etc. However, these get blocked these days but the text links do not. So you might want to try this one.

Strategy 3: Newsletter: – Create a monthly/weekly/quarterly newsletter about educating the customers and prospects about what’s new in the industry. Put couple of observations in industry which are affecting the customers as well as propose a solution to same. Talk about any new citing or customer testimonial on how the new product feature is helping people using your product or service. Give links to the online press releases and showcase to customers how the press has talked about your company/product/service. Share some whitepapers/research reports that your company might have published.
Use this newsletter to talk about what others are talking about you instead of boasting about how good your product/service/company is.

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