Generating new business in an uncertain landscape is no easy feat – in the B2B space, sales involve a complex network of stakeholders including buying influencers, purchasers and ratifiers. On average, a B2B organization will introduce seven decision makers into sales process to collect research, a cycle that usually lasts up to six months. Simply paying to get in front of the eyeballs of these stakeholders is an increasingly expensive task, with advertising rates forever on the rise with looming inflation, so B2B organizations are feeling the pinch to cost-effectively secure more business, now more than ever.
PR to the rescue.
A well-executed PR strategy feeds into all aspects of the buying journey – from putting prospects in the pipeline, right through the sales funnel, establishing the essential trust that can transform into a sale. When done correctly, PR is highly effective in terms of cost and results, and a vital piece of the sales and marketing mix.
At IBA, we’re huge advocates for meaningful coverage in relevant, target publications – hunting Main Stream Media (MSM) outlets purely for sky-high UVPMs will not always score you the results you’re searching for. We call it Vanity Metrics. For more on that, go check out our “Putting Vanity Metrics in Perspective” blog. In fact, research from Reuters Institute found that in the U.S., 71% of media consumers do not even trust main stream news outlets – a tall order for PR pros looking to land coverage in these publications and even more so for B2B organizations looking to land sales.
But among this media mistrust, it’s trade publications that still hold their authority when it comes to reaching business decision-makers. This is where securing placements where it matters most, via a trusted leader, with credible content – because the people reading these articles are ones most likely to buy your product, solution or technology.
A credible voice goes a long way in the B2B space – and where you need good executive profiling
Despite B2B being business-to-business, human relationships still matter and the old adage of “people buy from people” still rings true. Bringing forth industry leaders and experts can help prospective customers better relate to your business. With 40-70% of a company’s market value attributed to a CEO’s reputation – it really is in an organization’s best interest to keep a roster of stellar thought leaders to demonstrate company expertise and branding.
Executive profiling can help here, and that’s not just the CEO, it’s establishing strength in depth. Executive profiling is about establishing a spokesperson for a particular industry or technology area and determining a media hook that you can put pen to paper (fingers to keyboards!) to produce thought-provoking, relevant and fresh thought leadership content that offers real solutions to the pain points your prospects are experiencing. Building up the profile of your executives influences the entire corporate reputation. It’s then PR’s job to Pitch&Place – and think carefully about where and who to best place this content with, are they interested in what your trusted industry expert is talking about?
Careful what you say – you’re speaking for the company, not for yourself
Finally, executive profiling also highlights the value of media training – even the best public speaker can trip up on an unexpected question and it’s knowing how to handle these curveballs that will keep the executive and company’s reputation in tack. Looking for some interview advice? Check out part one of our “10 Golden Rules for Press Interviews” blog.
Pitch perfect thought leadership
Of course, produce all the content you want, but without a solid pitch and placement with a journalist with a genuine interest in that vertical, then you can consider your efforts wasted. Effective thought leadership will contribute to that all important reputation you just spent so much time building up with executive profiling – published content in your targeted top tier media will reinforce expertise. Establishing good relationships with journalists comes down to trust, so your content needs to speak for itself!
It may require some persistence but get it right and the results are certainly worth it. Take our work for our message orientated middleware firm client as an example. Within the first year of working together and through effective thought-leadership in target B2B publications across North America and Europe, our client gained earned placements equating to $500,000+ in advertising costs, in regions they had never ventured in before. Not to mention relevant eyeballs from 6.1 million unique visitors per month. That’s certainly bang for buck!
Build media trust
But the clue to this cost-effective approach is in the word “earned” and the notion of earned media is in the name – whether it be press releases, thought-leadership or case studies, earned media is content that a business has not paid for to be published. When coupled with a trusted thought-leader, it can be build significant trust and authority in the B2B world. Journalists will write about companies and people they trust – it can go a long way with future prospects.
Earned media coverage is our bread and butter here at IBA – and yes, it is possible to secure earned coverage in large publications with insanely high UVPMS too. Just last month we secured a placement for our enterprise software client in a top-tier technology publication with a relevant readership of over 1.5 million – no pay-for-play or sponsorship opportunities, just valuable content from a well-respected, industry thought-leader.
Earned media coverage is king to tap into the B2B sales funnel
The forward-thinking companies have already recognized the value PR can bring – from developing trust and authority as advisors in their field, to securing coverage in publications that will be read by B2B decision makers, all at a reasonable price. It might just land you a new client or prospect.
Georgia Harris is PR Executive at IBA International.