Here’s a quick quiz: What B2B marketing tactic helps you get better known, establishes credibility and thought leadership and ultimately drives sales?
If you answered public relations, a tip of the hat to you.
Public relations for many moons has been considered a bit of a revenue-generating stepchild since it’s tough to quantify. It’s easy, of course, to count clips, but how exactly do they at the end of the day boost sales? Unfortunately, there is not a tight one to one correspondence. What about the person who read an article touting your product one year down the road and was prompted at that point to buy? And how about all the people who have no idea how they heard about your business but somehow know they read something?
So should we forget about it when it comes to tying public relations to sales? Not if you want to get extra mileage from your PR by having it work as a lead generation device.
Think of your release as a marketing invitation for a prospect to take an action that gets the prospect closer to buying. By including a call to action in your release that takes a prospect to a landing page where the prospect can download additional; content in exchange for providing some brief contact information, you’ve begun a dialogue.
Here are 5 approaches to public relations that you can use in your B2B marketing efforts to help generate sales:
1. Say No to Generic Press Releases
Press releases continue to remain a component of public relations but you need more than just distribution–you need a strategy. Your release needs to work in sync with your marketing. Generic press releases lacking strategy and written only for distribution are ineffective. Ask yourself: What is the purpose of the release? What takeaway should a prospect have? What action do you want a prospect to take after reading the release?
2. Use Multimedia
Maximize the B2B marketing value of your press releases in terms of click-throughs and lead generation. Dynamic and multimedia content such as videos and slide shows increase the persuasive value of your calls to action. Experiment with what sort of dynamic content works best for your target market.
3. Feed Readers More Content
Don’t treat your press release as a stand-alone item. Use it in conjunction with additional content you can feed your target market. Have your release lead to landing pages, blog posts, articles, or other resources; in turn all of these can link to the press release.
The goal of this sophisticated “web of content” is to further engage your target market and be able to draw prospects into the appropriate stage in your sales funnel, depending on where they decide to enter it. The sales process has become a very complicated and multi-channel process, and as Reevoo Insight has found, clients can enter through various touchpoints and switch from one channel to the other before conversion.
4. Get Social
If you have yet to incorporate social media into your B2B marketing strategy, get going. Social media is everywhere. And it can be used in conjunction with almost all your ground-level tactics, including press releases. Make it easy for people to share your release by adding social share buttons. Don’t forget to include a brief summary of your release people can easily tweet out.
5. Aim for Specifics
Do not settle for just one press release. Be open to testing your releases and varying them depending on your target market. Different calls to action may have varying effects on different segments of your market. The same goes for content. You may for example want to emphasize one point in a release geared to marketers and another in one targeted at agencies.
Put all of this together and you can create a public relations program that can substantially increase the return of your B2B marketing efforts.
How are you increasing the value of your press releases? I’d love to hear your ideas–put them in the comments below.Follow Wendy Marx, B2B PR and Marketing Specialist at Marx Communications, on Twitter.
[Image: Flickr user Minchioletta]