Traditional marketing is still the best way to make customers aware of your invention

PR is hands-down the most cost-effective traffic generation tool.


Every Internet marketer I’ve met is staunchly defensive of direct result marketing methodologies as the only way to sell a product.

Yes, more than 60 percent of products can be found online, but that’s not the marketplace for all things. E-commerce has not replaced how we become aware of inventions or products.

Whether you’re selling online, in a brick-and-mortar environment, a bodega in New York City or a kiosk in India, you still need to get customers to know about you before you can sell to them.

For e-commerce, search engine optimization (SEO) is necessary to get traffic to your store. (Editor’s note: SEO is the process of making web pages attractive to search engines, most notably Google. The better a website’s SEO, the likelier someone will come across the website when searching for information on the Internet.)

But I’m going to tell you why public relations is more effective.

Proven approach

In 1991, when the first Internet bubble was growing, I attended one of the first swanky Internet networking organization parties for a large networking organization in Los Angeles. Everyone had a business idea, and selling it online was so novel that money was being thrown at non-revenue-generating business models.

Being the entrepreneur I am, I saw an opportunity: How were these products going to market themselves? At the time, entrepreneurs were so over the moon about e-commerce, they naturally thought if they were selling online, they had to market online. This could not have been further from reality.

I was not sure at first that PR would be well received by this group. However, within an hour of being there, I came up with my own technology and called it Marketing Bridge. It was meant to teach online businesses how to integrate traditional methods into their marketing mix and vice versa.

My pitch about the value of Marketing Bridge: “If you are selling tickets online to bus and train riders, you might think about buying ads on bus underground station benches (instead of just online).”

Soon after, I accepted an invitation from e-marketing guru Eben Pagan to talk about PR to his Guru Mastermind group of 500 who had flown to Los Angeles from all over the world. I practically pulled out my hair figuring how I could connect the non-measurable, awareness-centric value of PR for this audience of hardcore e-marketers.

During the three-day workshop I incessantly texted my e-marketing mentor, Chance Barnett, with requests for encouragement. I needed ideas on how to make this direct marketing/PR connection.

Finally, he said: “Listen, what you do is the only way I know that you can get third-party endorsement to millions of people in just one magazine, newspaper article or TV/radio show. No affiliate marketing program or pay-per-click program does that. So, go get ‘em!”

I exhaled, sat back, and realized he was right.

Non-SEO impacts

I decided would just talk about what I know: PR is hands-down the most cost-effective traffic generation tool.

Press clips my company has generated garnered from 350 percent to 156,000 percent return on investment—and reached millions of eyeballs for clients including Mrs. Fields cookies, a no-snoring product endorsed by Shaquille O’Neal, and virtually every invention startup you can imagine. That’s pure PR value.

Every website in the world must have marketing to get people there! Not marketing to attract your customer is like having a party and forgetting to send invitations.

Did you know the Los Angeles Times is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in America with a daily readership of 1.4 million; 2.5 million on Sunday; more than 22 million unique visitors monthly; and a combined print and online local weekly audience of 4.1 million?

As for magazines, the largest readership of any is AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) with a whopping 35 million. These traditional print publications pose great PR opportunities.

PR’s trust factor

Here’s the clincher: Did you know that when a reporter gives his or her opinion about something in editorial, it’s free?

By contrast, the cost of SEO services vary, depending on what’s needed. In 2020, the average SEO project cost between $1,000 and $2,000 a month based on the scope.

A one-off project could range from $5,000 to $10,000; hourly rates for SEO consultants charge between $80 and $200 an hour. And because the competition is stiff, this is a cost a company must spend consistently throughout its lifetime.

The beauty of PR is that when a reporter writes an article or reports a story on air, your invention or product is getting treasured “third-party endorsement.” This, next to a “word-of-mouth” recommendation, is the most influential marketing you can get.

Think of all the products Oprah has deemed her favorite. What do you think happened to their traffic?

Many customers today know the difference between an ad and editorial. They know that an advertiser buys space and has the freedom to say just about anything. The trust factor that once existed in the advertising world is no longer.

Internet marketing is all about building trust between a seller and customer. It’s about getting into a customer’s head and finding a way to solve his or her problem. This makes PR an even more stellar approach.

I’m not suggesting you ignore the e-marketing basics of looking for rankings, obtaining affiliate relationships or pay-per-click advertising. You have to do that, or your website will wander aimlessly in Internet space.

What I am suggesting is that you find something newsworthy about your product and get it reported about in magazines, newspapers, radio and TV that is read /seen/heard by your target customer.