Revolutionary Measures

Why sales is the new opportunity for PR and communications

For many B2B industries the sales process used to be relatively straightforward. You made products customers wanted, and provided the price and quality were right, they bought them. Salespeople were involved across the process, giving ample opportunity for them to build relationships, explain benefits and overcome any doubts.

marketing woman office working

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

This has now radically changed, with a much larger proportion of the process carried out by prospects themselves – without speaking to a salesperson. The combination of the internet and social media gives them access to a huge amount of information that they can use to refine their needs, and create a shortlist of potential products and vendors without the companies being involved at all.

Content, content, content
While this means that sales need to learn new skills, it also dramatically boosts the importance of content. If you don’t have the right content available, based on the keywords and topics that your potential customers are searching for, they won’t even find you. With the amount of competition out there, customers simply don’t have the time to check every potential supplier’s website to find out if they offer what they are looking for.

This applies to all sectors. For example, I’ve talked to lawyers who say clients have found them by searching for particular legal specialisms (e.g. “European rail infrastructure law”). So to get onto the shortlist, you need to be visible. And visibility isn’t just through company websites, it is in the media, on Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, emails and marketing collateral.

What does this mean? Essentially you have to build a brand for yourself and/or your product. This has to be built on the right content, in the right places, giving a consistent message to your target markets.

For me, this is a tremendous opportunity for communications/public relations professionals. We have the skills to understand an audience, create a strategy and messages to reach them, and then execute it through relevant, well-written content. We just need to think beyond the old confines of media relations and we can position ourselves at the heart of the sales process that drives modern businesses. This means breaking down the old barriers between earned and paid media by using whichever is best for the job in hand.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece on whether we should switch from calling ourselves public relations professionals and rebrand ourselves as communications professionals. It became part of a wider debate, with some people agreeing and others feeling it lost the strategic element of what we do, pigeonholing us as messengers. Given the business opening that content provides now is the time to seize the opportunity and expand what you do – whatever you call yourself.

 

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Creative, Marketing, PR | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Digital – is Don Draper worried?

Don Draper
Image via Wikipedia

As every marketing textbook will tell you there are five main promotional tools when it comes to reaching your customer – advertising, public relations, direct marketing, personal selling and sales promotion and all have distinct advantages (and pitfalls).

In the real world, outside the textbooks, a hierarchy has developed, certainly when it comes to big brands and their campaigns. Advertising is king, taking the largest share of budgets, driving the ideas and generally providing Mad Men-style glamour. PR has always been the poor relation, while direct mail and sales promotion have been relegated to the bottom of the list, seen as mechanical methods of distributing content. Salespeople rarely see themselves as a promotional tool so have headed off on their own outside marketing’s control.

As in many industries, the advent of the web disrupted this cosy status quo, but the model pretty much survived. Web and email were put into the direct marketing category and ad agencies continued to receive fat cheques for their work.

But there are now real signs that the world is changing – it isn’t a command and control model anymore. We’re not watching TV (or TV ads) as much (as a recent Deloitte report pointed out most people now have hard drive recorders) and new digital channels, like social media, are much more about conversations and content, not just slick one-way ideas. Adland is worried about losing control – bringing in PR people for their content skills, investing in swish digital agencies and generally reinventing themselves through new services. The question is – can they change fast enough or will savvy PR agencies step up to the mark? Time will tell, but if the PR industry fails to skill up it risks missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity to lead integrated marketing campaigns.

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January 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments