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.
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.
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.
EC-PR’s B2B Messaging Lab delivers bespoke workshops to facilitate the development of your 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.
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.
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.
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.
Becoming a Thought Leader is considered the holy grail of PR and marketing. Thought Leadership in the STEM industries is essential as a way of driving innovation, producing exciting solutions and sharing new ideas. Consequently and importantly, these leaders are trusted sources of information for their audiences. But in this noisy world where everyone has an opinion how do you raise your profile?
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You are already an expert in your field but becoming a thought leader is considered the holy grail of PR and marketing. It’s when you’re called by the BBC News to be an expert on a breaking story, when the most respected industry trade magazine calls you for your opinion and when you’re asked to speak at those all-important industry events.
But in this noisy world where everyone has an opinion, how do you become a thought leader? How do you elevate yourself and the brand you represent, with your own clear, well thought out viewpoint?
The initial stages to becoming and staying a thought leader is taking the time to thoroughly Research & Formulate your thoughts before Communicating them with the media. Follow our tried and tested steps to get you started:
STAGE 1: RESEARCH THE 5 BE’s
Focus on something you are passionate about. You must genuinely love your subject. If you care, you will come across as authentic and credible. To remain current, you will need to keep abreast of the latest thinking relating to your area of expertise – reading widely is an essential practice for a thought leader as is talking to other experts to fine tune your opinions.
Research your area properly so that you are informed on different possible perspectives.Consider topical issues, those in the news – for example; climate change, autonomous ships and piracy, and develop your opinion on them. Writing and news reporting is rarely impartial, so think about what the motivation might be behind the various documented opinions you read.
BE EVIDENCE DRIVEN
Evaluate which angles have the most merit, and document these. Having looked at the main options, consider the evidence that the opinions are based on. Draw up a list of evidence the writers refer to and evaluate which you think is the most robust and persuasive. Which do you find the most compelling?
Develop your opinion with appropriate proof points.As you develop your opinions, remember to keep detailed notes and annotate your text so that you can keep track of where your influences have come from. Depending on the material format you produce, you may need to quote sources.
Create visual representations of your idea.Wherever possible, create models, illustrations, infographics or even cartoons to bring your ideas to life. If you struggle with this, find someone who can help you. Remember, different people engage with, and absorb, information in different ways; by using graphics you can simplify complex concepts, increasing your chances of engaging with more people.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
It’s critical to be clear about who you want to engage withbecause this will inform the tone and intellectual level you need to adopt in your language, content and presentation style. For example, the BBC News traditionally broadcasts news stories in a way that an average 14-year old can understand – this means researchers and interviewers drill down to the essence of a story, sometimes appearing to oversimplify it in order to make it accessible to its broad audience. Other media organisations will have a different approach or style.
STAGE 2: FORMULATE
PULL TOGETHER YOUR THOUGHTS IN A ‘THINK PIECE’
With the information you have researched, draft a minimum of 100 words on each of the points below… alternatively, you can record your thoughts into a voice recorder. Ask yourself the following questions:
Why do you care about this?
Why should your audience care about?
What facts/developments do they need to be aware of?
What common assumptions/mistakes are made when trying to deal with this and why are they wrong?
Can you provide some examples of good and bad practices… – names, case studies, more names!
How do you propose this issue could be approached? Identify your evidence for suggesting this could work.
Map out the resistance you anticipate to your proposal, quote naysayers. Explain why you believe these naysayers to be wrong.
Summarise what you expect to achieve if your approach is followed.
Draft your introduction… and your conclusion.
Once you have your 1000+ words, take your draft to a colleague or your PR company, to review and provide constructive comment. For your key ‘Think Piece’, do not aim for a word count. You are aiming to produce a thoroughly researched, well argued, interestingly composed opinion that will provoke responses in thought, word or deed. And when you have done that – stop.
With your Think Piece done, your next challenge is to get your opinions out there!
For help on how to reach the right media outlets and audiences, don’t miss our Stage 3 article on Communication coming soon or request our full FREE guide on How to become a Thought Leader at email@example.com
If you have reached the end of the blog and you’re not sure you have the time to action this, contact us to do the heavy lifting for you firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your business is made up of humans all the way through the supply chain. Yet when it comes to your brand, sometimes the human element is lost. No more so than when the subject matter is technically complex.
In PR, it’s easy to get caught up in why the widgets are so great, how they’re different etc. But people don’t remember widgets. They remember how they feel. As Simon Sinek says in his TEDx talk, focus on the why first.
Storytelling humanises brands. Out with the cold, informal, impersonal corporate language and in with the ‘real’; the emotional connection. Storytelling is built into us, we’re hardwired to remember stories, and feel compelled to share them.
“ Stories are up to 22 times more memorable than facts”*
Incorporating stories into your PR helps you distinguish your brand from your competitors. To be visible, valued and understood.
“A big mistake is not putting the most important/interesting thing at the front. E.g. ‘Everyone at Natwest has had £100 stolen from them’, rather than, ‘New research has been published by leading global cyber security company LockupmyData, conducted by the highly regarded Whatsitallabout research company as a result of face to face interviews with 6,000 cyber security professionals last year. The findings show that Lockupmydata is rated reliable by 49 percent of respondents’.”
There are several ways you can incorporate brand storytelling into PR.
Here are a few examples of storytelling best practice:
A LOOK INSIDE YOUR COMPANY
We have to remember that people are curious. Recently, Salesforce opened their new tower in San Francisco. Rather than a dull release, they gave their audience a behind the scenes look into their business showcasing how their new offices incorporated their brand identity and that they’re not just a tech company. Not only that, they display their eco-friendly credentials detailing their on-site water recycling facility.
THE FOUNDING REASON YOUR COMPANY CAME TO BE
Every business has a story. Warby Parker, a US eyewear retailer was founded to tackle the problem of expensive eyewear after one of its student founders lost his glasses on a backpacking trip and couldn’t afford to replace them. Warby Parker also partners with not-for-profit organisations to distribute a pair of glasses to someone in need for each pair they sell. So, the original brand story was already engaging but the fact the company helps those less fortunate continues to fuel their story, see how they’re now helping students in the City of New York.
HOW YOU HELP YOUR CUSTOMERS
Client testimonials & customer references give your brand credibility. They also create powerful stories of the impact of your technology. Most clients aren’t early adopters so want the confidence that they’re not just simply your guinea pigs, that your solution is tried and tested. Leverage those client relationships with your early adopters and showcase them, like Splunk. Make your customer the hero in your story.
Storytelling is for EVERY brand…
There will always be a nugget to create a story around, even if it’s not immediately apparent. Whether it’s the reason the brand was started, the way a product is produced. There is always a story worth telling. Let us help you find your story and bring your PR to life.
* Source: Jennifer Aaker, Social Psychologist, Professor of Marketing at Stanford University Graduate School of Business
Thought leadership is not a buzzword. Developing a campaign using your STEM experts can elevate your visibility and value beyond your competitors.
Thought leaders attract business
Thought leaders are those with a unique perspective and passion about how something can be achieved. They speak with clarity about industry problems, ideas and potential solutions. Their opinion is rooted in knowledge and knowhow so that their ideas can be realised, and their successes replicated.
Thought leaders are engaging, inspirational and motivating.
Typically these experts have a media profile and they attract followers because, within their community, they are visible, valued and understood. Consequently, they become trusted sources of information for the wider media and their audiences.
Take for example, Simon Sinek, the leadership and branding expert – his presentations are highly visual, accessible and offer clear, articulate, replicable steps. His message is simple, easy to remember, reference and repeat. As a result, his ideas spread, his profile increases, and he sells more books and his consultancy grows.
Bathe in reflected glory
A business can employ any number of thought leaders – each an expert in their own field, with different communication styles and preferred platforms. Whether you grow your own or employ existing thought leaders, the important thing is that you encourage and support them to capture, structure and articulate their best ideas. Doing so will add further value to your business’s vision and mission.
It’s worth noting that the process of sharing thought leadership enables you to harness and harvest the intellectual property (deliberate small ‘i’ small ‘p’) which resides in the heads of your most valuable employees – employees who one day may be employed by your greatest competitor. Encourage them to share their brilliance while employed by you, so your business can bathe in its reflected glory.
Passion is persuasive
Don’t talk about things you don’t care about because it will show – it will be dull, and everyone will ignore you. Talking and writing for the sake of it does not make you a thought leader. Don’t write about the same stuff as everyone else, this makes you a copycat and possibly a plagiarist.
Being an expert takes time and commitment as does having an expert opinion. Developing an opinion usually means that you have investigated, considered and formulated different perspectives around an issue.
Few people will invest time and energy if they don’t care about a subject. When people commit some effort, it’s because they give a damn and when you give a damn, your passion shines through and it becomes so much more compelling. Therefore your expert does not need to be a sales-person or automatically comfortable in the limelight. Confidence in front of the media comes with skills to be learned, and it’s why we run services like our Media Training.
Your business needs thought leaders because they help your business to grow, which reflects well on your reputation and showcases your brilliance.