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Thought Leadership Case Study: SELIS – Amplifying Success

Thought Leadership Case Study: SELIS – Amplifying Success

SELIS – Amplifying Success

Thought Leadership Case Study

BACKGROUND

SELIS (the Shared European Logistics Intelligent Information Space) was a three-year €17 million flagship European Commission-funded research project and part of the EC’s €77 billion Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. Bringing together 37 partners f rom across Europe, including research organisations, SMEs and large industry players, SELIS delivered an open source, cloud-based intelligence platform for logistics collaboration. The project hopes to motivate faster, more efficient, flexible and sustainable supply chain ecosystems in Europe.

Challenge

After three years of research & development, during which time the SELIS project team’s own efforts to promote the project had had limited impact, and the logistics community, which was set to be the main adopter and beneficiary of the project’s innovative platform, remained largely unaware of the strides the project was making.

SOLUTION

EC-PR proposed an intensive three-month PR outreach programme aimed at celebrating the successful conclusion of the SELIS project and promoting the commercial benefits of adopting SELIS’ logistics collaboration models. The programme consisted of a proactive media outreach, including profiling key journalists and influencers from across Europe interested in the subject, securing story placements, arranging media interviews and developing news announcements, combined with building thought leadership by means of articles and blog posts.

OUTCOME

After an intensive and brief ramp-up period the programme swiftly generated the first tangible results, including press coverage in tier 1 media outlets, such as Forbes and Intelligent CIO, and leading logistics trade publications, including Logistics Voices, Supply Chain News and JOC.com.

Dr. Takis Katsoulakos and Makis Kouloumbis of Inlecom Systems (the SELIS project coordinating partner) were positioned as thought leaders on innovative new logistics models through article placements in JOC.com, Logistics Voices, Computer Weekly and TechTarget.

The results of SELIS ‘Living Labs’ (real-life testing environments) were communicated through press interviews with key Living Labs partners from the industry and academia who endorsed the project’s outcomes.

“EC-PR have quickly grasped the complexities of the SELIS project and managed to transform them into a compelling media narrative. By building strong connections with our project partners and bringing them into media activities they have strengthened the credibility of our story which is important for future commercialisation of the project’s innovations. The results generated have been impressive.” Dr. Takis Katsoulakos

MD, Inlecom Systems, the SELIS project coordinating partner

SELIS Project at a Glance

Intense ramp-up of PR programme

2

News releases

4

Press interviews with SELIS project partners

3

Feature articles placed

15

Pieces of coverage in tier 1 business and trade publications

1

Speaking opportunity secured

Intense ramp-up of PR programme

2

News releases

4

Press interviews with SELIS project partners

3

Feature articles placed

15

Pieces of coverage in tier 1 business and trade publications

1

Speaking opportunity secured

Intense ramp-up of PR programme

2

News releases

4

Press interviews with SELIS project partners

3

Feature articles placed

15

Pieces of coverage in tier 1 business and trade publications

1

Speaking opportunity secured

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B2B PR – Let’s talk about having a ‘quickie’ (part two of two)

B2B PR – Let’s talk about having a ‘quickie’ (part two of two)

B2B PR – Let’s talk about having a ‘quickie’ (part two of two)

B2B messaging should be passionate not apathetic.

Messaging is like being on the dating circuit, and if you fail to shepherd your prospects through the different stages of communication and try to jump straight to pushing a sale, you’re essentially offering nothing more than a ‘quickie’.  Valued partners act as brand ambassadors – they are loyal and want to participate in your success story.

In Part one, I focussed on the first two stages of the messaging roadmap, ‘awareness’ and ‘interest’ and proposed tools of engagement for each. In this article, I complete the loop by addressing the remaining two ‘preference’ and ‘action’ explaining how you use them and what tools you might consider.

 

Once you’ve built brand familiarity and trust with your prospect through the first two stages, the next stage is to start guiding their attention to your remarkable credentials – which if you’ve done phase one and two correctly, will perfectly match what they are now looking for.

 

Preference:

B2B Messaging: Showcase your brand on pedestal

Now is the optimum time to showcase your brand and offering

Let’s talk about you baby!  At long last, it’s ok to talk about you and put your brand on a pedestal.  The next stage of communication is all about defining in the mind of your Persona(s) how your offering is the most desirable option for addressing their specific needs.  If you have spent time nurturing them through phases one and two, this will be a logical progression of the conversation.  Think of it as the third date!

Tools:  This preference messaging will be delivered through your website, specification sheets, tailored presentations and tender documentation.  Indeed, most businesses will have this material in abundance – the problem is, you’ve probably been using it at the wrong stage of the relationship and in terms of content, it’s been developed with you and your interests at its heart, rather than those of your prospect.

Action:

B2B Messaging: Hot air balloons illustrating competitive advantage

Now is the right time to shine a light on the advantage of working with you over anyone else.

This is the close, the finesse. 😉 So, at this stage, the prospect is considering two options – you and one other. Relentless telephone calls and emails are not going to nudge you over the line.  This phase is about communicating the value you can add, the successes you have delivered to other businesses and shining a light on the advantage of working with you over anyone else – in specific regard to the problems they are addressing.

Tools: This is reasonably straight forward: case studies (both editorial & sales), LinkedIn references, Social Video, co-authorship focussing on success stories and success metrics – while bringing your company’s personality and values to life.

 

Please note every company’s messaging will differ. Once you have clear messaging, you can apply it methodically – creating a coherent customer journey.  This provides a logical and realistic purpose to your marketing activities with the bonus of your leadership team being engaged and immersed in the process because they were engaged from the start.  The outcome therefore is more engaging communication that delivers greater impact, longevity and effect.

Next Step

Why your B2B Tech Business Needs A Communication StrategyEC-PR’s B2B Messaging Lab delivers bespoke workshops to facilitate the development of your communication strategy.

Find out more about Our Approach to B2B Messaging Development for B2B Tech businesses in our article, “Why your B2B Tech Business Needs a Communication Strategy

 

The Forge

The forge iconIf 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.

 

B2B PR – Let’s talk about having a ‘quickie’ (part one of two)

B2B PR – Let’s talk about having a ‘quickie’ (part one of two)

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.

 

Neck tattooed with the word 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.

 

Awareness:

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.

Red umbrella standing out amidst grey umbrellasTools:  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.

 

 

Interest:

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.

Pink balloons held up against blue skyTools: 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.

Next Step

Why your B2B Tech Business Needs A Communication StrategyFind 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

The Forge

The forge iconIf 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.

 

Is your communication strategy a roadmap or roadblock?

Is your communication strategy a roadmap or roadblock?

Is your communication strategy a roadmap or roadblock?

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!

 

B2B PR – Five steps to an effective B2B communication strategy

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

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.

 

News Release Production and Optimisation FREE DOWNLOAD

News Release Production and Optimisation FREE DOWNLOAD

News Release Production and Optimisation FREE DOWNLOAD

News Release Production and Optimisation FREE DOWNLOAD

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Please complete the form and we will email our definitive guide.

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