B2B PR Blog

Make the most our of your B2B PR activity.

Our ec-pr blog holds a wide variety of articles covering Communication, writing Press Releases and Editorial, preparing and making the most of Trade Events and Networking, and much, much more.

Do tell us if you’d like to have our insight on a particular subject, and don’t forget that you can pick up our free guides about event publicity or becoming an Influencer here. Please contact us if you’d like to talk about adding ec-pr to your Marketing team.


Why your b2b tech business needs a communication strategy

Why your b2b tech business needs a communication strategy

If you feel you’re working harder than your business performance reflects, that your resources are stretched and that the returns don’t seem to reflect your investment as well as you’d expected, then a communication strategy may just give you the marginal gain you need.

 A communication strategy means different things to different people. So, for the sake of clarity, what I’m talking about is a road map which shows you how to identify and then persuade your ideal client to purchase your product or service, within the context of your commercial objectives.

It enables you to consciously shepherd your prospects from the bottom of the pyramid where they are in a state of absolute ignorance (of your brand) to brand advocate – in other words, at the top of the pyramid. Your communication strategy provides context for you to select appropriate tools and activities to ease your prospects through each phase.

 

Never forget that it is people, not companies or job titles, who make decisions about you. It is how you relate to people that will determine whether you succeed or fail, and it is for this reason that we put people at the heart of your communication strategy.

Low hanging fruit

Firstly, your communication strategy should scope out amongst whom you are most likely to achieve the results your business is targeted with. This will provide you with focus. An iterative process best achieved by brainstorming to identify who they are, where they work and why they are a good target for your product or service. By engaging a cross-functional team, you can ensure that you don’t miss any important opportunities.

It is worth bearing in mind that by working as a senior cross-functional team, you also give the project gravitas and authority. This is not a job for the interns, if you are serious about changing to a higher gear.

Where the ‘who, where and why’ cross over, you have your sweet spot, your focus for your comms strategy. If you feel that you have two or three possible sweet spots you have to a) prioritise them and b) decide whether you have the resources to pursue all of them proactively and effectively.

Persona(s)

A persona is a representation of your ideal customer(s) and they can be a lot of fun to develop. You should have no more than three of four – more will be unmanageable and probably means you haven’t done the first part of the process properly. The persona is where you capture all the key attributes of your target decision maker(s) – making them feel like a real person even though they’re not. You will collaborate internally to identify these attributes in enough detail for you to feel you know them – from what university they went to, to the media they read, their aspirations, motivations, fears and irritations – everything that makes them who they are in the work environment. Because, if you understand them, you will be able to better craft communications that interests and engages them.

See our Case Study featuring Lloyds Maritime Academy showing how a Communication Strategy can give clarity and structure to marketing efforts, enabling the marketing team to target different audiences at different stages of the buying cycle.

The value proposition

Once upon a time someone set up your business because they thought it was a good idea, they thought it filled a niche, that someone would pay good money for it – they had a pretty good idea of the value proposition. The comms strategy needs this value proposition to be clearly articulated. It should be robust and should have been interrogated to breaking point and then put back together.

Positioning statement(s)

A positioning statement is essentially a rationale for investing in this specific ‘thing’, whether it be a product or service offering. Identify the need and niche it is fulfilling and why it is better than alternatives currently available. Everything you develop should be interrogated in this way – from a business perspective if it delivers no specific distinguishable benefit– why invest in it? If you can see no rationale for it, how on earth will a prospective customer?

Read our brand awareness case study showing how we helped tech business Predatar find “absolute clarity around our value proposition and our messaging throughout the different stages of the buying cycle“.

Messaging

Imagine: I’ve never met you before and you’ve never heard of my company and you receive an email from me which is entitled: ‘Fligflamm – delivers immediate cost savings’. How likely are you to read it? Be honest. Your to-do list is off the page and you have 200 emails in your inbox. You’re not going to read it.

Messaging is about saying the right thing at the right stage of the buying cycle. It informs you when to talk about issues, when to mention brand, when to focus on features/benefits and when to showcase your success stories. I’m a big fan of Mike Gospe (author of The Marketing High Ground) and we use his Message Box model, see below, to draw out the correct messages for each stage of the buying cycle. (In fact, we reference him a lot – do buy his books, they’re brilliant!)

When you have clarity about what you should be saying to whom and when – it makes choosing your campaign tools a lot more intuitive.

Validation

The final stage of developing your communication strategy is the validation. Engage with existing customers to make sure your assumptions and understandings resonate with them. You’ll be surprised what you learn – it never ceases to amaze me what little nuggets of information and insight emerges.

And then you’re ready to plan your marketing investments, including B2B PR, with greater precision and purpose.

 

Next step

the messaging lab iconEC-PR’s Messaging Lab delivers bespoke workshops which can facilitate the development of your communication strategy. If you’d like to see more detail of our Communication Strategy Toolkit do get in touch!

 

How to write a tech news release

How to write a tech news release

The purpose of a news release is to communicate to your target audiences that you are an active player in the market and worth talking to; it’s also a valuable vehicle to remind your competition that you’re a force to be reckoned with.  Tech moves fast which means there is always news, you need to make sure you’re in it.

Subject

Tech moves fast excerptUsually, a news release announces one of the following recent achievements: a client/customer contract win, a significant technical development or a new industry insight – possibly as a result of recent research. Caution: unless your most recent recruit is a well-recognised industry authority, new employee announcements are best done through internal comms.  It’s not news.

Headline

Having identified that you do have a story, the first thing you should write your headline. Headlines should be factual and arresting, signposting what the story is about. They should avoid technical jargon.

Content

One of our golden rules excerptThen, draft your first paragraph, highlighting the point of interest. One of our golden rules is to write the first paragraph as a stand-alone. In years gone by this meant that if an editor was short of space, they could edit from the bottom up. If all that was left was the first paragraph this should stand alone as a summary of the story. Of course, the advent of online media means that space isn’t necessarily an issue for editors now, but don’t think this means you can ramble on forever.  News releases should be no more than 1.5 pages – with more and more information at your fingertips, as a reader you want engaging and informative content therefore, drafting the first paragraph as a stand-alone has more value than ever.

Two to five paragraphs should follow.  These will evidence your opening statements covering who, what, why, where and how.  Write these with the view that they should be intelligible for, and interesting to, a non-specialist journalist who may be working across several sectors – this will ensure you do not disappear into a black hole of technical nonsense.

Quote

Once you have written the body of the release turn paragraph two or three into a quote from a senior spokesperson, ideally a director. This way you avoid bolting on a weak generic comment from your MD which says little if anything at all and make him or her look slightly vacuous and very dull!

At the end of the release add your contact details.

Once you have got your release approved dispatch to your media contacts with one or two high quality professional images.

This article tells you how to structure a tech news release, to discover how to can get the most out of your news, download our: News Release Production and Optimisation guide.

See more about our approach to creating content in our Beehive.

B2B PR – Five steps to an effective B2B communication strategy

B2B PR – Five steps to an effective B2B communication strategy

An effective B2B communication strategy will focus your marketing and PR efforts in order to target your client niche and meet your business objectives. It is a powerful tool that will help you develop very effective messaging. Here are five simple steps to get you started.

 

1. What success will look like

My starting point is always to determine what success will look like, in terms of what do we want marketing to deliver in order to enable the company to achieve its strategic goal(s)? Whatever the desired outcome is, it must be measurable.

There should be a communication objective against each business objective such as: To generate #X qualified leads for bespoke vessel design from shipyards servicing the renewables industry.

 

2. Whose attention do we want to grab?

Knowing what we want to achieve then leads us to the next quantifiable question: whose attention do we want to grab? We need to be as specific as possible and I would suggest that the starting point for this would be your existing database.

Identify who you currently sell to in this industry and use this as a signpost for whom to target moving forward. For example: We want to target and engage Technical Designers and Vessel Designers employed by Shipyards (anywhere in the world).

 

3. What can we say that is arresting?

Following on, we need to say something to make our audience stop and think. We want to say it in an intelligent and authoritative way that challenges their assumptions or inspires their imagination. (Remember: People buy why you do something, not what you do. They engage with your passion**).

This is where we, as a B2B PR agency, play a role expending creative energy to communicate in a way that provokes the reaction that you want.

 

4. What do we want them to do?

Now that we have their attention, what do we want them to do? The call to action is what enables us to measure how successful the marketing communication has been. It needs to be realistic and achievable.

It can also provide a clear hand-over point between marketing and business development, such as: We want them to give us their contact details and indicate their area of interest (and possibly what stage of the buying cycle they are in).

Be realistic, business people will not place an order for many hundreds of thousands of pounds off the back of a piece of marketing communication. However, they will express interest by following a link or subscribing to a newsletter, or requesting a download. Once this is received, it’s at this point that your business development people should step in and take over the lead while your marketing communication continues to work in the background.

Your marketing team should also be aware of the technical tools available to help you track engagement from your B2B communications. For example, make sure that you measure clicks on online links. If you are putting a post onto LinkedIn or sending an email to your prospects, then track the URLs with a campaign name, medium and source. If you use Google Analytics, you can generate a tracking code using their Campaign URL builder here. This all helps give a fuller picture of the impact and effectiveness of your B2B communications and where there might be weaknesses to address.

 

5. Relevance and cost-efficiency

The choice of marketing vehicles then comes down to relevance and cost-efficiency, i.e. how do we get our message to your target audience in the most cost efficient way?

Because your strategy will be well-planned and measurable, you can then test different media and messages to see which gain the most traction, thereby increasing cost-efficiency over time.

When a company is tackling multiple markets there will be a range of vehicles being deployed with some overlap. The important thing is for everyone in your team to be clear about your desired outcome for each given capability and market.

The golden rule

Essentially the better you design and execute, the better the outcome – for those engineers** in the audience: does this sound familiar?

Next Steps

You can read more about our approach to Communication Strategy Development in our blog post: Why your b2b tech business needs a communication strategy here:

Why your B2B Tech Business Needs A Communication Strategy

the messaging lab iconAt ec-pr we have a three-phased approach to B2B PR, starting with The Messaging Lab – Communication Strategy Development. This will give you the best start to an integrated communications campaign.  Contact us if you would like us to help you prepare an effective communication strategy for 2019. See our case study for Lloyds Maritime Academy demonstrating the power of a Communication Strategy here.

** We are passionate about helping B2B Technology Businesses and their people to communicate more effectively with customers, colleagues and the media because we believe you are a remarkable group of people who make the world a better place and often don’t get the credit you deserve.

 

Six reasons why you need a communication strategy

Six reasons why you need a communication strategy

Marketing plays an integral role in the business’s growth, but without a clear communication strategy, money is being wasted and it’s impossible to be consistent and efficient.  CMO’s are expected to deliver whilst working in a vacuum.

In our experience, CMO’s with a communication strategy can lead the business with greater confidence and authority.

 

1.    Enables you to lead your business

As a CMO you need a comms strategy because it will make your job easier and more rewarding, it will also help you to lead the business and perform your duties at a higher level altogether.

The nature of being responsible for a company’s marketing means you must respond to multiple demands from the business. This can lead to a kind of tactical myopia. Your colleagues in sales will demand qualified leads – and rightly so – but if you haven’t got a mutually agreed understanding of your target sector priorities and a tight definition of your target personas, then the likelihood for disagreement or disappointment is almost inevitable.

 

2.    Provides focus and efficiency

Low hanging fruitA well-formed comms strategy keeps you both focussed and aligned. It ensures you are more efficient, by focussing your time and money on the strategic priorities. The natural optimism, energy and opportunism characteristic of salespeople means that they can be distracted by whoever or whatever appears to be a quick win. That’s not to say low-hanging fruit shouldn’t be picked if it falls outside the specified target – but it must be recognised for what it is and should not distract everyone from the wider strategic intent.

A comms strategy provides a yardstick by which every effort and initiative can be assessed for efficacy. Everyone needs to understand when the pursuit of low hanging fruit has turned into an unhelpful distraction and drain on resources. If you own a comms plan, this will be as clear as the nose on your face.

 

3.    Results in more effective messaging

Your audience is ...article quoteYour target audience will rarely comprise a disciplined cohort equipped with all the information they need to select your products and services. Your audience is most likely made up of broad groups of people, with similar sets of responsibilities, who are at different stages of the buying cycle. They are probably ill-informed, confused and/or insecure in their knowledge or options. Creating typical, representative personas helps to focus attention and effort. Furthermore, understanding that your target persona will be at different stages of the buying cycle enables you to develop messaging which talks to their individual information needs, while addressing their fears, motivations and irritations. This approach, which respects your target audiences’ differences, will be more persuasive because you are telling them things that matter to them in a way that helps them to move along their buying journey.

 

4.    It forearms you

Your comms strategy captures your sales needs, sector priorities, personas, positioning and messaging. It provides you, and your extended team and colleagues, with many of the essential tools you need to enable you to deliver your business objectives. I’m a great believer in active decision-making. The process of formulating your comms strategy will enable you to identify knowledge gaps. Then, you can decide whether you need to secure the missing information or not.  It’s important to recognise and understand the implications of your action or inaction so that outcomes don’t come as a surprise – forewarned is forearmed.

 

5.    Brings clarity of purpose

a communications strategy quoteWhatever your objectives and whatever your requirements, a communication strategy just makes the process of getting there more efficient, more effective and the journey so much more rewarding. Having clarity of purpose also allows you to lead the business, fend off unnecessary or irrelevant requests and direct your resources with intent.

 

6.    Enables effective PR

So, where does PR fit into all of this and why am I writing this article? My view is that the most effective type of PR is PR that is fully integrated; it is wrapped around the marketing activity to create impact and effect. The most effective type of PR follows a clearly defined plan, speaking to people about the things they care about in a tone that engages and persuades. We can only do this properly if there is a clearly defined comms strategy…and so, we arrive full circle.

Read about our latest communication strategy project featuring Lloyd’s Maritime Academy

If your marketing is operating on a tactical level instead of a strategic one, EC-PR can help your marketing team regain control of your brand and marketing strategy.

Please get in touch to see if we can help you.

EC-PR specialises in helping Science, Technology and Engineering companies create clearly defined comms strategies and fully integrated PR solutions.

Type 31e: Two’s company, three’s a competition

Type 31e: Two’s company, three’s a competition

Does our defence procurement process need to be more flexible and agile?

The end of this week marks the deadline for industry to submit their proposals for the design phase of the UK Royal Navy’s Type 31e frigate requirement.  As much as you can understand the reasons for pausing the programme in the summer which, according to MOD, was due to ‘inadequate competition’, you do wonder whether the delay will indeed make any difference.   Or, whether the uncertainty around Brexit is having an impact.

Unfortunately, our choices are limited if we are to align with the National Shipbuilding Strategy and maximise UK capability to deliver this programme.  Step back in time to the 1970’s and yes, it would have been a very different story but, competition from Japan, South Korea and China has taken its toll.  Sir John Parker who provided the recommendations for the National Shipbuilding Strategy, was quoted saying that the UK failed to spot the big opportunities in the 80s, so the words “too little, too late” do spring to mind.

Couple these concerns with the cynicism that surrounds the price tag of these ships and it’s hard not to think that the programme is doomed to fail before it’s gained any real traction.  Budget cuts are a very real issue facing the MOD however, we still need to manage expectations and question whether $328 million per ship, is a realistic figure.

Encouragingly, we wait with anticipation to see if Atlas Elektronik U.K. and Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems become the MOD’s 3rdoption.  Will that then mean there is now ‘adequate competition’ for the programme to go ahead to the next stage?   Only time will tell but rapid decisions will need to follow if there is any chance of industry meeting the delivery deadlines.

With Euronaval just around the corner, we’ll be looking forward to walking the floors, meeting clients and prospects and keeping our ear to the ground for any big defence announcements.

 

SMM Fair 2018: What I learnt in 25,000 steps

SMM Fair 2018: What I learnt in 25,000 steps

Whilst preparing for SMM Fair 2018, I was fully aware that it was a big show; you only need to look through the exhibitor list to understand that. But it’s only once you’re there and in the thick of it that you truly appreciate the sheer magnitude of what is certainly the largest trade event I’ve ever been to.

Liz at SMM Fair 2018

Liz at SMM Fair 2018

25,000 steps over 1.5 days and there were still people I didn’t get a chance to catch up with, but it was a fantastic couple of days and a great opportunity to spend time with clients, journalists, as well as meet some new and interesting people who clearly have a passion for this industry.  The blisters were totally worth it!

What did I learn?

The IMO Ballast Water Convention and Global Sulphur Cap 2020 were still the main discussion topics, as was the ‘green drive’ and maritime security. Of course, none of these are quick wins and they will all have a major impact on how the industry operates in the future.  What’s clear is that there needs to be a much more agile and flexible approach to the formation and implementation of regulations if we stand any hope of keeping up, never mind getting ahead, in an ever-changing world.

Our preparation for Posidonia, earlier this year, was spot on so we didn’t change anything for this show. Despite only being able to commit to 1.5 days, with nifty preparation and planning, I had 18 meetings plus several drop-ins. No other show will give you such an opportunity to see all the major industry players in one place.  If I was to give advice to anyone attending this show for the first time, I would say:

  1. Plan your meetings hall by hall to avoid feeling frustrated and exhausted.
  2. Taxis are impossible to secure after 4pm – research public transport and the different ways to get around Hamburg. Nearly 2 hours waiting for a taxi is an experience I’m hoping never to repeat.  If it wasn’t for the kindness of two executives travelling in my direction, I may never have got to my hotel that night.
  3. Dedicate at least three full days to attend and work SMM, so that you can be more systematic in your approach, i.e. 1st day – A Halls, 2nd day – B Halls, 3rd day – any stands you’ve missed.
  4. Leave the heels at home – being an absolute lover of heels, I can’t quite believe I’m saying this but I’m also still trying to nurse my feet back to normal and haven’t been out of my trainers since I got back.  So, next time it’s flats all the way.

What will we do differently in 2020?

In all honesty, not a lot.  The timing of these events is critical.  Whilst Posidonia was fantastic from a BD perspective, we then quickly entered ‘silly season’ and so, we faced two or three months of following up and nurturing these relationships at a time when quite frankly, very few people are looking to seriously engage.  That said, we’re now seeing our hard work paying off and SMM last week has reinforced our passion and commitment to working in an industry that plays a crucial role in driving the global economy.  Roll on Norway for Nor-Shipping 2019.  It’ll be interesting to see how much the industry has moved on and what investments are made over the next year.  Given the conversations I’ve been privy to recently, we should be seeing a flurry of activity which can only be good news for the industry.

For advice on prepping for a Trade Show or Industry event read our Event Publicity Countdown or download our Free PR Guide.

For help with managing your PR at an upcoming event, please get in touch with us at info@ec-pr.com