B2B PR – Let’s talk about having a ‘quickie’ (part one of two)
The customer engagement process has always fascinated me particularly the way marketing communications must evolve in order to stay in harmony with the customer’s journey.
Messaging is like being on the dating circuit. The clearer you are in your own mind about what you’re looking for and what success will look like, the more likely you are to achieve it. Essentially, there are four stages through which a relationship must grow to successfully form an enduring commercial relationship – awareness, interest, preference and action.
When you try and jump straight to the preference or action stage, you’re essentially offering nothing more than a ‘quickie’, treating the prospect with neither care nor respect in pursuit of your own goal. Often, when companies focus only on chasing numbers rather than focus on building a brand, they forget to nurture their prospects through the different stages of the buying cycle and as a result, they miss out on all the benefits associated with a real partnership – such as longevity and loyalty.
Split into two parts, this first article focusses on the first two stages of the messaging roadmap, ‘awareness’ and ‘interest’ and recommends the most effective tools of engagement. Part two will address the ‘preference’ and ‘action’ stages.
In this phase it is essential that you are visible, looking your best, and demonstrating that you are engaged, understand and have an interest in the market issues and challenges that your prospect faces. This should be led from the top. Your leaders (or subject matter experts) need to be noticeable, expressing opinion within LinkedIn articles, sharing relevant insights, authoring thought leadership, presenting at key events – walking the industry walk – sharing their passion and immersing themselves in the issues that matter to the persona they seek to partner with.
The impact of an engaged and passionate leader on a company’s PR strategy cannot be underestimated. In the case of Concirrus, CEO, Andrew Yeoman is a prolific and insightful commentator and speaker. He is vocal, informed, opinionated and very much ‘in’ the marine insurance industry, a sector the company is targeting. Every action has a positive and equal reaction – in the case of Andrew, the soundwaves reverberate, and the message is amplified through each and every PR engagement.
Tools: Thinking about the PESO model and what tools should be used in this phase (accepting this will vary from business to business and campaign to campaign), the key tools are likely to include: event sponsorship, conference speaking platforms, LinkedIn engagement, exhibitions and news management. Your brand needs to be visible and looking its best. Everywhere your target persona ‘goes’ – you need to be.
Once you have built up a level of familiarity through consistent presence in the target persona’s space, you need to work on building trust and engagement. This is where you help your target persona to better understand the specific nature of their challenges, as well as the options available to them. It is where you encourage them to think about the ideal solution, its attributes and even values.
Tools: This is where thought leadership articles can be invaluable, as well as independent round tables, white papers, podcasts and social videos and objective explainers with strong visual prompts.
Going back to our dating analogy, during this stage we are moving from ‘I like the look of you’ to ‘I want to know you a lot better’ – now is not the time to ask them if they want to shack-up! Your persona must feel that as a result of engaging with you, they are better equipped to deal with their challenges, and they are confident that you have their best interests at heart.
Throughout the awareness and interest phases, your focus is entirely on building familiarity, trust and influence before starting the next phase, although it’s fair to say that in the words of Simon Sinek it’s an ‘infinite game’ and each phase will be in play as long as the business is seeking to grow. In part two, completing the customer journey through ‘preference’ and ‘decision’ messaging is considered.
Find out more about Our Approach to Messaging Development for different personas at different stages of the buying cycle in our article, “Why your B2B Tech Business Needs a Communication Strategy”
If you are ready to start applying your Comms Strategy within all your Marcomms collateral then you need The Forge. This integrates PESO modelling to measure the use, reach and integration of activity, as mentioned above.