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Marketing Spotlight

Don’t Run That Ad! (until you check the CPM)

By Jonathan Ward

We are all feeling the impact of today’s uncertain and tumultuous global markets. And when times get tough, spending money on marketing is often the first thing to go. However, if you look at some of the strongest business-to-business brands, you’ll see that many have one thing in common – when everyone else was hiding in tough times, these companies maintained a presence in their markets.
What did they know that others seemed to have missed? They understood that in order to minimize the impact of economic troubles, you really have to maintain your market presence. And that when competitors are disappearing off the radar, it’s a great time to gobble up market share.
But how do you do this with a shrinking marketing budget? Here’s the first article in PT’s three-part series that will help you get the most from your marketing dollars.
Evaluate Your Marketing Effectiveness
It’s important to look to CPM (or cost per thousand impressions) when trying to maximize the use of your marketing dollars. Plus, it’s good to remember that in a down market, every advertisement you run will have even greater impact.
Why? Simply because there will be fewer ads, meaning less “noise” (i.e., content unrelated to parking). To plan you next marketing campaign or media buy, it is important to run analyses of which publications hit your target audience most effectively. Using the effective CPM is a great way to compare the cost of disparate marketing activities and/or publications evenly.
To get started, you need to understand the difference between normal reach (of circulation) and effective reach. Going back to Marketing 101, “reach” is the number of people a marketing activity touches. In the ad business, this is often referred to as the circulation of a given publication.
The difference between the normal and effective reach is that the latter includes only those people who might buy from you (your target audience). Therefore, the effective CPM (eCPM) is a calculation of the cost per thousand based upon your effective reach.
For example, the CPM for running a full-page, four-color advertisement in BusinessWeek is $108,400/675,000 readers/1000 = $160.59 per thousand reached. The CPM for Parking Today is $2,940/14,850 readers/1000 = $197.98. So, it would seem that BusinessWeek offers the better CPM ($161 versus $198 per thousand readers reached).
However, if you eliminate all the wasted coverage that BusinessWeek includes – knowing that there are only about 14,000 parking industry decision-makers – the eCPM becomes $108,400/14,000 /1000 = $7,742.86 per thousand!
Now, when you compare BusinessWeek’s $7,742.85 eCPM to Parking Today’s $197.98 based on each publication’s ability to reach potential influencers or customers in the parking industry, BusinessWeek is obviously a really bad choice. Add to this the facts that even parking industry folks are not really reading BusinessWeek for parking information and that there is much more noise, the business case for BusinessWeek becomes even worse.
You should apply this thinking not only to your paid advertising, but also to your public relations opportunities. Why is being in BusinessWeek or The Wall Street Journal a goal of nearly every company I meet, when from an effectiveness standpoint, companies are better off in vertical publications that better reach their target audience with much less content noise?
Look to Maximize Low-Cost Opportunities
Press releases, speaking engagements, or even simply getting out of the office to attend industry events are low-costs ways to get your name out there and build new business. When looking for speaking engagements or trade shows, look for opportunities where you can provide information that no one has ever considered – or considered important.
For example, trying to speak on parking at a parking industry event is a much more difficult task than being the parking expert at a hospitality industry event. The parking industry conference planners might not want to be briefed on “Parking Management Options for Hotels.” However, conferences targeting facility managers in the hospitality industry might find the same content very valuable – plus, you’re likely to talk to facility managers and other decision-makers who might not see the value in attending pure parking industry events.
Regarding press releases, be sure to keep the media informed of new hires, contracts won and other industry news about your company. Keep it short and to the point, and you’re likely to get traction. Spread your news out over time, so you establish the perception of always having something going on (even if you don’t). And don’t be afraid to pitch your ideas to the media in many industries, across printed and online outlets.
Again, write your releases and pitches with readers in mind. Ask yourself what you intend readers to learn or discover that is truly innovative or simply helpful to their readers. You’ll need to be an objective source of information regarding your given expertise, so do not use PR as a thinly veiled sales pitch for your products. You will be able to mention your company in releases, and most important, you will become an expert in your area of business over time.
Because parking is such a big issue in most cities today, I cannot believe that most companies who sell parking solutions and really know the industry do not reach out to local new outlets and introduce themselves as industry experts – available for quotations and comments on parking topics. For instance, if you are in Boston, does the business editor of The Boston Globe know who you are and that you are a parking expert?
Local schools and universities are great at positioning their professors as experts in a given area; therefore, they get phone calls when the media need third-party input on a variety of topics.
Directory listings also are important ways to tell purchasers who you are and what you really do. Buyers often turn to business directories to establish a short list of companies they plan to reach out to for a given solution. Plus, online directory listings help drive people to your website and help improve your browser search position.
To get started, establish a media list of publications and associations with whom you’d like to build a relationship. Keep the list small and manageable! It’s better to have close relationships with a few key publications and industry associations than to build a list that’s not manageable with your resources.
Remember, public relations and publicity is more closely linked to sales than to marketing – and the only way they’ll call you back is if you are super responsive. In the parking industry, I’d pick one or two key publications you really like and respect, and then add two to three publications (such as your regional paper and a publication that targets facilities managers in a particular vertical) that you either have a relationship with or that you have seen lack the information you can provide.
In other words, try to fill a void! You’ll see that as you get editorial coverage with smaller outlets, larger and larger publications will take notice and you’ll build marketing momentum where people will start coming to you for information.

Jonathan Ward, President of Onward Marketing, has consulted with companies such as Microsoft, GE, Skidata, Scheidt & Bachmann and ZipPark. He can be reached at jward@onwardmarketing.com.

Article Abstract from March, 2009




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