Why do so many businesses struggle to survive? One in five small businesses fail in their first year, and half are out of business by their fifth year, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows. But it’s not just small businesses that struggle. Sears, for example, the 23rd largest retailer in the United States, is facing bankruptcy after 132 years in business.

The causes of small business failure are multiple, but one factor is lack of publicity. Over six in 10 marketers say they struggle to generate enough website traffic and leads, a HubSpot survey found. In fact, nearly half of small businesses don’t even have a website, according to a CNBC and SurveyMonkey poll. If you’re not putting an effort into generating publicity, your marketing performance will be subpar, and you may not generate enough leads and sales to survive. Here are three reasons why businesses of all sizes need publicity, whether you just started up or whether you’re trying to maintain your client base.

Publicity Builds Your Brand

One big reason companies need publicity is branding. Branding communicates how you want potential customers to perceive you and feel about you, as well as how you want them to see you in relation to your competition. This plays a key role in determining whether or not your market trusts you and values your products and services enough to buy from you. Publicity can help you take control of your branding to increase your favorability in the eyes of your market.

One example of a company that used publicity to improve its branding is McDonald’s. As America has become more health-conscious, McDonald’s has struggled with an image of promoting unhealthy food that leads to obesity, costing it market share to competitors such as Subway that emphasize healthy eating. In response, McDonald’s launched a rebranding campaign, which included offering more healthy foods such as salads, redesigning its restaurant layouts to look more like Starbucks, and launching a new ad campaign with a new slogan, “I’m lovin’ it,” along with a new song by Justin Timberlake and visuals showing young couples and families enjoying McDonald’s new menu. The result was that McDonald’s saw a 5.3 percent rise in sales at locations that had been open more than a year and outperformed revenue projections by 4 percent.

Publicity Attracts Qualified Leads

Another vital function of publicity is helping you attract qualified leads. When you’re not actively pursuing publicity, you rely primarily on word-of-mouth referrals to generate business, which leaves you with no control over who hears about your company and what message they hear. Promoting yourself through publicity allows you to make sure that the right message about your company, products, and services is getting out and that it’s reaching the right target market.

One company that is using publicity effectively to generate qualified leads is Amway. Amway’s blog posts information about the benefits of the company’s direct selling business model for the brand’s target market, which includes entrepreneurs, families seeking to increase their income, and employees seeking a more fulfilling income source and lifestyle. Amway also distributes its content to its target audience through social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, reaching nearly half a million followers on Facebook, for example.

Publicity Streamlines Your Sales Process

Publicity can also streamline our sales process by helping you pre-position your sales. When you’re designing publicity campaigns, you can build elements of your sales pitch into your promotions. For instance, you can educate your market about what problems your product or service solves, what the features and benefits of your brand are, and what your answers are to common sales objections. This enables you to get much of your sales presentation done even before prospects get in contact with your sales team, promoting higher conversion rates.

A classic example of how educating your market with publicity can streamline your sales is Apple’s original campaign for the iPad, first released in 2010. Steve Jobs had the idea for a portable, wireless, book-sized computer as far back as 1983, but it took decades of groundwork to persuade the public that such a product was practical. To achieve this, Apple began introducing the eventual features of the iPad one by one through a series of products over a decade between 2001 and 2010. First came the iPod, which introduced the idea of a portable music device that could carry songs downloaded from a computer. Then came the iPhone, which introduced the idea of using a mobile touchscreen that could download apps. Meanwhile, Apple also began rolling out Apple Stores, where consumers could try out Apple products first-hand. Thanks to this careful pre-sales publicity, when iPad was finally rolled out, it sold hundreds of thousands of units on its first day of availability, and over a million units within a month. Apple had effectively created its own market niche through publicity.

Publicity can help your business position your brand, attract qualified leads, and lay the groundwork for high sales conversion rates. If you’re looking for ways to make your business more successful, consider prioritizing your publicity efforts.