How To Use Product Placement As A Tool To Market Your Micro Business

Imagine…

How could your micro business benefit if your product was featured in a TV programme or in the “editor’s choice” of a relevant magazine.

And I’m not talking about advertising.

Instead I’m talking about a different, possibly more lucrative, opportunity to get your products into the media.

It’s called product placement and it’s a brilliant PR and marketing tool.

What exactly is product placement?

Product placement has similarities to sponsorship in that it’s a subtle promotional strategy and therefore the epitomy of the third party endorsement (which is the essence of PR!)

You can do this in two ways:

  1. Instead of donating cash, you provide a product that is relevant to the event/TV show/print article. Quite often this approach can be cheaper than sponsorship and still achieve similar levels of publicity. For instance, a music shop might lend drums (with clearly displayed company logo) to a concert. In this case you benefit by informing your target audience you are a supportive and generous member of the business and local community.
  2. Alternatively you have it “placed” in the right magazines, newspapers, TV programmes and websites. This can incur a fee. For example, if you’re selling rugs and blankets, what better way to publicise them than having the Big Brother housemates draped in them when they are outside chatting? Or imagine your coffee machines being used on a breakfast TV show..? Or your cushions and lamp shades used in the various room sets on TV and in the print media….?

You see, the possibilities are endless!

And it’s been happening for years. In fact once you realise product placement exists, you’ll see it everywhere!

From the cars TV and film characters drive, to the cereal they eat, the clothes they wear and the gadgets they use, its no coincidence. Product placement supplies “props” which allow programme makers to decrease their production costs and the company supplying them to get free publicity.

Why does product placement work?

Product Placement PR can be used to build your brand, your profile and ultimately your sales! And it’s not just for big businesses. Micro business can secure product placement too.

And it’s worth it. You see it’s an effective strategy for strengthening brand name recognition and should be viewed as part of the total marketing mix.

Product Placement is particularly useful as it catches your target audience while their defenses are down. While they are watching the TV or browsing through a magazine, they are not as critical as they would be to an advertisement for your product.


 And if your product appears in the right magazines, newspapers, TV programmes and websites, it will be talked about by the right people.

In addition when you have Product Placement in a particular television show or film it implies the character / stars working on the show endorse that particular product, whether they mention it by name or physically interact with it in some manner. This is a very strong form of promotion – and again, the essence of PR!

Which products best suit product placement?

Ideal places for product placements include cookery, celebrity-based reality or makeover shows and articles.

But it’s not just a case of getting your product out there. There are legal considerations.

For your product placement to be ‘legal’, the products must be ‘editorially justifiable’. This simply means they must have a relevance to the programme/article in which they are being used.

So if you want to incorporate product placement as part of your PR strategy, you need to work out:

  • Who is your target audience is for the product?
  • What do you want your audience to think and do with the product?
  • What is the best media for reaching that audience?
A PR consultant can help with this.

How effective is product placement?

There are various ways to measure the effectiveness of product placement.

Some people measure it by:

  • Weighing up how prominent the product is on screen or in the article,
  • Whether it’s branded,
  • How long that clip is on screen,
  • The time of day it is on/position on the page and audience/reader figures.

On TV it’s usually measured by working out the worth of an equivalent ad space – a 30-second TV spot ad. Analysts currently believe if a product is not seen in use or referenced verbally, it is worth 30% less than an equivalent ad.

But it’s worth 200% of the ad if use of the product is integrated into the programme and referenced verbally.

How to secure product placement for your micro business

So you’ve decided which media you want to approach to place your product. What next?

I firmly believe in the personal approach. In fact I advocate this in all types of PR.

It’s always best to start by trying to talk to the magazine editor, programme producer or researcher.

Have a chat with them to get your personality, energy and passion for your products across. Achieve this and you’ll have much more chance of them using you. To get on their radar, try using Twitter as a PR tool.

Next you need to really sell your product. You need to present a compelling case that details why your product would be good on their programme/magazine/newspaper etc. The best way to do that is over the phone – or if possible during a face to face meeting.

To help, always have some written information about your product to hand. Outline key facts and the main reasons you feel they would benefit from using it. It will help with your conversation and remind you of the important things you need to say. In addition, be ready to follow up with an email.

And if you don’t get to speak directly with the key person, email instead.

Finally I would also recommend sending a sample of your product to try, free!!

An example

Product placement is not just reserved for the big brands. Many micro businesses have achieved great results from getting their products placed in relevant magazines.

Take Salcombe Trading. A chance encounter with the editor of Good Housekeeping led to products being featured in the magazine. Thereafter several of their interior design projects were featured in magazines and they were contacted by the Features Editors. In addition, Salcombe regularly send “Editor’s choice” suggestions to Bath Life, Crumbs Magazine and are often picked up.

Company Director Michelle Sames said:

Releasing products to stylists of National Magazines, such as Country Living to use in their styling/room sets showcases our latest stock to  a very discerning and desirable customer base. Sometimes the products are readily available but readers will buy them from us as the magazine endorses us a a recommended supplier of quality products”.
micro business action

Today’s Micro Action

Could your micro business benefit from product placement? If so identify which media you are best matched with and create your contact strategy to get your product in front of the right people.

Lucy Matthews

Lucy Matthews is a freelance PR consultant. She has a passion for the media, an enviable selection of contacts and a proven record in working with businesses to build their reputation and presence in the media.

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