The New SmellEarlier this week I was heading in to a 2009 planning meeting for a client in the medical technology industry.  As I parked my car in front of their offices, I did a quick survey to make sure I had everything I needed – laptop with PowerPoint presentation (check), Q4 results report (check), copies of the latest published articles…before leaving the office, I had grabbed the FedX envelope that arrived earlier that morning with, what I knew to be, several copies of the latest medical trade magazine – one that the editor had promised me would contain a by-lined article Brenner Associates had scored on behalf of this client company.

Still sitting in my car, I opened up the FedX envelope and pulled out the magazine.  To my surprise and delight, the publication not only contained the by-lined article, but a photograph of our client’s product  (one that I had taken myself) was the entire front cover of the magazine.  We scored another home run.

I can’t think of a better way to enter into a client planning meeting then with a front cover story in the new issue of their top-tier trade publication.  Nothing feels better than having a hardcopy of the magazine in hand.  I love the way it looks.  The way it feels.  The way if smells.

Fact is, however, that the real value of this hardcopy piece is far less valuable then the same story as it appeared a week earlier on the publication’s web site.

The circulation of the publication is estimated at around 30,000 readers.  If it finds its way into offices, the magazine may be read by another 5,000 readers or so.  Let’s be generous and say that 3/4th of these readers take note of the cover story and actually read the piece.  That means about 26,250 industry professionals learned about my clients and their technology.  Not bad.

Now, the same article appeared a week earlier online.

The publication estimates that 250,000 people visit their web site each month.  They were able to tell me that about 20 percent of these visitors clicked on the cover story from their home page (that’s 50,000 readers).  In addition, the article appeared on the first page of every google search involving keywords related to this article – another 50,000 readers?  100,000?  More?  The hardcopy article will, in a matter of weeks, become birdcage lining.  The online version will remain available to googlers for years to come.  Only a small percentage of subscribers to the hardcopy version will ever read the story inside.  We can assume that virtually all of those that click the story on from the Internet will read at least part of the article (they selected it didn’t they?).

Clearly, online publications have the potential of reaching exponentially more customers  and swaying more opinion than the hardcopy issue.

Still doesn’t smell as good.

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