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Investment vs. Expense: How Do You Categorize Your Communications Costs?

By Janet Falk

At a certain small bank dealing exclusively with consumers, opening a new account in the system requires an input: How did you hear about us?

This is a company that calculates its Public Relations, Marketing and Communications dollars as an investment, and not an expense, unlike others.

By tracking the HOW question over time, and in six locations, the bank fine tunes its activity in SEO, media outreach, outdoor advertising and other platforms.

A marketing investment is any expenditure that creates tools that drive value and impact sales, even after the cost to create the tool is spent. Examples are websites, media relations, videos and social media engagement, to name a few. These marketing investments yield a long-term ROI, greater than any one-time ad.

Communications activity is magnified and extended in the digital arena:

  • Print news articles are accessible online, sometimes with extra visual and audio content, with no expiration date.
  • Client newsletters, blogs and product literature PDFs form part of the main website.
  • Twitter activity and Facebook posts by customers, staff and observers are always available.

Even when prospects hear about your company from a news story, a commercial or a referral by a colleague, they probably will conduct some research online -- to confirm the basics of location, products and price range or to obtain more specific information on features, customer reviews and comparable products.

Invest in Communications and Marketing and you meet these prospects more than halfway. Your digital tools and materials await discovery; they live indefinitely, well beyond their initial cost, yielding the highest ROI.

How much are you prepared to invest in Communications to attract more customers and supporters?

 

Janet Falk provides media relations and marketing communications services for nonprofits, small businesses and consultants. Her proactive communication campaigns help them achieve their goals through expanded contact with members, prospects, supporters and influentials. Follow her on Twitter @JanetLFalk.