Believe it or not, PR can Drive Business Leads

by Don Martelli | Professional Services
January 16, 2020

If you own a business, odds are there are other companies out there doing exactly what you do. Honestly, the trick to increasing sales and market share isn’t always doing it better—it’s about having better marketing and telling a superior story.

Customer loyalty alone won’t cut it these days when you’re talking about driving brand awareness. Today we have nearly unlimited channels at our disposal and the speed of business is driven by marketing. Emails, tweets, Facebook posts, ads that follow you around the web, text messages—it’s all on the table and it’s all crucial to your success.

This begs the question: how do marketers work efficiently, spend wisely, and effectively influence their core audiences to drive sales? The answer is trust. Building trust takes time, but it also takes good content—content that’s educative, timely, relevant and actionable. Content that simultaneously educates and informs so your business becomes a content hub where people know they are getting true value.

In our work at the Belfort Group, this is where traditional public relations come into play, especially for our Professional Services clients. Solid storytelling is at the core PR and thought leadership. When brands can effectively combine PR with digital targeting techniques, the trust meter grows and so does the bottom line.

Whether in our work with architectural firms, non-profit organizations or B2B clients, we’ve developed a few guiding principles that all brands should consider.

First, think like the media

Marketing is designed to be self-serving and about your company, your services and what it brings to the marketplace. However, the media doesn’t want your promotional content. That’s called advertising. Reporters and editors want news and opinion that is relevant to business trends and to their readers.

When developing demand generation content (PR with sales purpose), think like a journalist. What’s happening in your space that’s relevant now and how can your opinions inform the business decisions of your sales targets? Your first step is to develop content that drives conversations, actions and gets your sales targets thinking about you as a source of educative content.

Second, hand-pick your media targets

The traditional PR formula is as follows: Develop a press release; blast it out to as many contacts as possible; conduct follow-up through emails; get ignored or get lucky. The only true result from that approach is wasted time and resources. Reporters and editors want content that’s specific to their audience and content that hasn’t appeared elsewhere. Again, it’s all about relevancy and exclusivity.

When managing campaigns such as these for BG’s Professional Services clients, our team builds media lists specific to every piece of content. The key with this approach is finding media outlets that align with your client’s target demographics. For example, an architectural firm looking to win business in the biotechnology sector would want to develop a thought leadership piece about shared lab space for a related healthcare publication. In other words, speak to your sales targets in their language and in their world.

Next up: Market the marketing

While this approach can garner great media coverage and exposure for your company, you still need to get the content in front of decision-makers. This is where digital targeting comes into play.

In the example above, our integrated digital marketing team would take over. First, they would develop a downloadable asset on our client’s website—a piece of content that provides real value to sales targets. Second, the team would develop a paid targeting campaign through LinkedIn.

Targeting by geography, title, industry and job function, you can ensure your message gets in front of the right people. Instead of placing general brand ads, in this case, you’re using the thought leadership content you secured through PR—adding real value to that paid opportunity.

The action on the ad placement passes the sales target through to your website, where they are given the opportunity to download the digital asset. At that point, you have yourself a hot business lead that your sales team can take over.

One last bit of advice

Don’t get caught up in long form content. The idea here is to develop a quick-hitting editorial process that keeps your brand in the marketplace and, on a parallel path, keeps actionable content in front of your targets sales prospects in channels they are using every day to educate themselves about their related industry.

In our opinion, PR is no longer about impressions or ad value. It’s a channel that, when managed right, can truly be an effective business driver for Professional Services brands.

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