Everyone’s talking about integrated PR, sales & marketing campaigns these days. But how many companies are truly making the best use of their content?
I’ve been lucky enough to work on some hugely successful campaigns over the last year. They’ve generated a host of top-tier media coverage, given the companies a distinctive brand and led to profitable conversations with key prospects. This is the “holy trinity” that we all strive for.
However, for many B2B firms, the sales ‘process’ is a bit of a hidden myth. Compared to their consumer counterparts, their targets are tucked away in the depths of their partners’ and consultants’ minds.
Partners and consultants don’t always see themselves as sales people, but the truth is they are vital to maximising marketing ROI. Despite this, the first they hear of a new comms programme is often when they read it on the intranet – if ever at all.
The reasons for this are two-fold. First, they are used to operating in this way and have found it difficult to find time to see the value of working more closely with marketing. Second, their clients are happy and they may not realise that their clients would value them even more if they proactively shared some new insights with them, which may even lead to conversations about more work.
The common thread is evidence. They need to be shown that they are missing a trick in order to change their ways. This makes it hard for marketers to break the mould, but is well worth it when they succeed.
In order to get your experts involved, think about:
From press releases about what you’re doing for other companies to microsites where you can pick out the most relevant data, there is a multitude of content that your experts’ contacts would be interested in seeing. Consider how to make these easy for them to access and share.
Press release, microsite, eBook, infographic – these “technical” terms have a limited meaning to the non-marketer. Consider what explanations and rules are needed e.g. the purpose, key findings and key messages of a campaign, in order for your experts to do them justice.
One expert might be comfortable with quickly sharing a link to a new article on LinkedIn; another will see “marketing” as a time consuming process that is beyond their capabilities and/or capacity. Pre-empt these challenges and work with the most amenable experts first to get things started.
You need to make it easy for your experts to see and share new content and work out what’s most relevant to their clients. And don’t forget, just because a report talks about one sector doesn’t mean it can’t be cross-sold to another.
Coming back to my point about showing experts how it’s done, encourage people to share examples of how proactively reaching out to clients in this way has generated positive feedback and opened up new business opportunities. You might even end up creating some healthy competition!
As content drives ever-closer integration between PR, sales and marketing, it’s going to become even more important than ever to make this work as hard as possible for your business.
People who hold client relationships, are members of industry associations and/or spend a considerable amount of their time networking are going to be a vital source of new business, and need to be encouraged and enabled to make the best use of these assets.
Eventually, this will become a more considered aspect of the long-term measurement and evaluation of a marketing project. Your most prolific content propagators will also be able to tell you what resonates with clients and what feedback they’re getting, to feed into future campaigns.