B2B Integrated Marketing: 5 Step Foolproof Guide

B2B Integrated Marketing

By Chance Shay Director of B2B and Infrastructure Development

Twitter: @ChanceShay 


Marketing communications in silos doesn’t work. If your PR efforts aren’t aligned with your content marketing and your digital marketing is on a different frequency, you’re setting yourself up for a not-so-fun conversation with your CMO. In a time when the average attention span is eight seconds and where humans are producing the same amount of data in two days as was generated in all of human existence leading up to 2003, it’s easy to see why each individual marcomm channel is less effective in isolation.

But with a challenge comes an opportunity. By syncing up all of their efforts, marketers are able to make the overall impact of marcomm efforts far greater than their individual sums. This is integrated marketing.

Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is the only marketing strategy that is effective in 2017. It optimizes the communication of a consistent message from a brand to stakeholders by integrating communication channels and harnessing the benefits of each channel, which amplifies their impact beyond what they could achieve individually.

The entertainment industry has done this for years. At Comic Con, you’ll see the same message about a new movie being promoted on advertisements (paid), conveyed during interviews and editorial stories (earned), used on social media (shared) and said during the panel discussion with the movie’s stars (owned).

B2B brands have to take this same approach, but with a few key changes. To help, we’ve put together a foolproof, five-step guide to help any B2B brand nail its integrated marketing plan.

1) Define the business objective

An obvious first step, but it’s essential that the integrated marketing flow from the brand’s overall business objective. Whether stealing market share or creating a new category, the brand’s big picture goal will drive everything from strategy to KPIs and execution.

2) Know thy audience

More than just understanding the type of business that’s a good fit for your service or product (i.e. a SMB in cleantech with $10-25 million in revenue), a brand must have a rich, granular picture of who is most likely to purchase their product and why. The “why” is important for establishing and framing the unique selling proposition for any good or service, but the “who” is the most important for structuring your IMC plan. Is your customer likely to be innovative or more risk adverse? What’s important to your customer in how they operate their business and the culture they create internally? Is a top tier trade outlet or a general news daily with huge name cachet more influential to them? For example, if the decision makers for your prospective customers are millennials, you’ll want to know they are 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites than older generations. That impacts strategy in a meaningful way, so get as holistic a view of your audience(s) as possible.

3) Set SMART communications goals that support the business objective

Like with most sound strategies, for IMC planning you must start with the end goal and work backward to develop a plan for how to get there. What is it – in a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time dimensioned way – that you’re wanting the plan to achieve. Is it to drive a 20 percent increase in free trial sign-ups? Is it to grow website traffic for key landing pages by 30 percent? At the end of the day, for B2B brands it all boils down to driving revenue. The marcomm component is meant to move new business prospects down the marketing funnel from being brand aware to being brand loyal. Setting SMART goals and KPIs for your integrated efforts will help ensure you’re on the right track.

4) Select your weapons of choice

Not all platforms and mediums are right for every brand. In some industries, trade shows have a higher demonstrated ROI than weekly vlogs on YouTube. For others, the best way to reach decision makers is on LinkedIn and not through content marketing. The first question to ask when determining where to focus marcomm resources is, “Where are my customers spending their time and how are they influenced?” Almost as important is asking yourself, “What channels allow me to showcase my brand’s strengths?” If your brand offers something innovative but a bit dense and niche, then Instagram as a platform would be challenging to generate traction. Instead, speaking opportunities at conferences where you (or your CMO) have more time to explain nuances would be more impactful.

Remember, you have all the PESO (paid, earned, shared, and owned) channels at your disposal.

For Paid, consider if your audience is actively looking for your solution or if you have to be proactive in helping them realize they need your product or service. When thinking of earned coverage, would contributed by-lined articles support your communications goals or would an analyst evaluation be better? On Shared channels, selecting the platform must flow from determining the strategy for how social media will help reach the communications goal – whether by creating a community, showcasing thought leadership, engaging in the digital conversations prospective customers are having or otherwise.

Part of how IMC for B2B brands is different than for consumer brands is how owned content is leveraged. Owned content should be valuable to your customers and your customers’ customers. Your customers want to know you “get them,” but they also appreciate content that reinforces their value. The ROI is clear when you consider that B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3X more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times per month. If your content is targeted, that increase in traffic means an increase in leads. Of course, that’s just one data set, but wouldn’t you like 300% of the traffic you’re getting now?

5) Use an umbrella to make it rain

Traditionally, an umbrella blocks the rain from hitting you. But for B2B brands, you need an umbrella that covers all of your IMC to bring in new business and make it rain. The umbrella, of course, is an overarching theme or idea that ties all of your marcomm efforts together. It could be owning a position or using some fun, quirky euphemism to convey the unique selling proposition of your product or reinforce a brand identity. This doesn’t mean that all efforts across all platforms need to look exactly the same. In fact, solid marcomm utilizes the most impactful features of each platform, but the umbrella campaign theme or concept keeps everything cohesive and consistent. When deciding an umbrella theme, think big picture about how it would translate across each of your decided platforms and whether it syncs with your strategy for how you intend to utilize each channel.

With audiences diversifying and a fragmented media landscape, there are no silver bullets for achieving communications goals. To be effective in moving the bottom line needle, communications – from advertising to PR, from social media to content marketing – need to be intentional in both strategy and timing. Check out a few ideas here, then follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to crushing the IMC plan and impressing your CMO.

Influencing the C-Suite: 3 Tips for B2B Influencer Marketing

By Aisha Belagam

Twitter: @AishaBelaPR


Fashion bloggers jet setting to tropical destinations wearing the trendiest floral prints. Genetically blessed Instagram influencers promoting weight loss pills after an early morning session at Equinox. From selfies to flat-lays, these are the types of personalities and formats that typically come to mind when you hear the term ‘influencer’. But these personalities won’t do much for your B2B marketing strategy.

American Idol business jennifer lopez american idol american idol xiii GIFAs with B2C, B2B influencer marketing is about connecting with influential people in your community and leveraging them to build trust and credibility, driving your message. In this digital age, where social media is becoming a regular part of everyone’s lives, influencer marketing is becoming a vital part of the communications strategy. And yes, you can and should use it for B2B companies. The C-Suite is engaged on social media and 84% of CEOs and VPs say they use social media to help make purchasing decisions. Here are three tips to consider when developing your B2B influencer marketing strategy:

1. Where are they and who do they look to?

Who and what influences your target audience? Don’t get deflected by focusing on who has the most followers. A million followers do not necessarily equate to a huge influence on your target audience. This isn’t a popularity contest. Plus, upcoming thought leaders are more likely to have the capacity to pay attention to your brand. Focus on influencers who receive a large amount of engagement on topics relevant to your vertical. These are the thought leaders you’re looking for. The analysts, industry experts, authors, speakers, and media folk who are actively involved in industry discussions, leading the way with their expert insight and educated opinions. You’ll find most of them on LinkedIn and Twitter.

       2. Look within

Who understands your brand better than your team? No one. That’s why you should leverage the CEO, employees, and clients as part of your strategy.

Employee advocacy is a powerful thing. Encourage your employees to promote your brand, whether it’s through social posts and blogs, at speaking opportunities, or by getting involved at industry events. Empower those with the most knowledge, the ones who work on your brand daily, to become the thought leaders opining and engaging, increasing your brand’s visibility.

C-level executives are an integral way for B2B brands to make a personal connection. They are the thought leaders bringing the brand to life. Using C-level executives is a key way to build relationships with analysts and the media, increasing coverage and establishing credibility.

Share results. Success stories from your customers can be packaged into consumable case studies, infographics, and testimonials. It’s great to have your team promoting your brand, but there is an obvious bias. Your customers, on the other hand, don’t have the same stake in your company and their experiences add a layer of authenticity.

      3.  Don’t just promote your own agenda

Build a real relationship with your influencers so they are engaged before you need them. It’s a two-way street. Think about how you can help them while promoting your brand. Reference them as experts, quote them in your blog posts, give them access to your products or services, engage with their social content, and stay top of mind. When the time comes, they will be more familiar with you and more likely to go the extra mile to help your brand.Empire FOX music love happy best GIF

Influencers can help a B2B brand through numerous channels. Think about your goals and identify what your brand needs. Influencers can do everything from collaborating on social content to hosting a webinar, from being an ambassador at your tradeshow to quoting you in their latest interview.

As interest in traditional forms of advertising plummets, influencer marketing is becoming a more important part of the integrated strategy. Collaborating with influencers in the ways outlined above can help your brand become more influential in itself.

Want to learn how your brand can leverage influencer marketing? Drop us a line. With proven influencer marketing results with national brands in both the B2B and B2C sector, we can work with you to develop and implement an integrated strategy that brings your brand targeted, measurable results.

No Shortcuts to PR Glory, Then or Now

By Julie Wright—President and Founder

Twitter: @JulieWright


How PR Worked Before the Internet…

I started out in PR before the Internet or email. It was the era of fax machines, the Yellow Pages and 400-page media directories that you combed through to research and build your media lists. There were few shortcuts on the way to mastering your PR skills, but in some ways, all of today’s technology and automation tools might actually be shortchanging entry-level PR people and getting in the way of developing PR fundamentals.

Back in the day, once you had your list built, you then had to call each reporter until they picked up the phone and then use your verbal skills to hold their attention more than eight seconds to pitch your story. Those calls helped you develop a thick skin, fast. That real-time feedback taught you which approaches worked or didn’t.

Unfortunately, in today’s email environment, you’ll never really know what they loved or hated about your pitch. (Unless you follow @smugjourno or @DearPR to monitor Tweets from journalists losing their s*** after being addressed with the wrong name for the 10th time in one day, sent another off-topic pitch, distastefully news-jacked or sent a 120 mb attachment.)

In the pre-email era, entry-level PR pros had to work the phones but that process made us better, faster.

We had another tool beside the phone. It was called the fax machine. Part of paying your dues was standing over one feeding it hard-copy press releases with your fingers crossed, hoping to hear the modem answer. (If you don’t know what a modem sounds like, it’s kinda like a DubStep drop.) That sound let you know that your brilliant press release was transmitting.

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If you were sending a fax to a busy newsroom, you could often expect repeated busy signals and multiple attempts to get your press release through. Faxes could only be sent one at a time. You could punch in several fax numbers, but they’d be delivered sequentially and not simultaneously.

Think about that, for a moment.

You, literally—and I mean literally–experienced the sensation of your pitch colliding and competing for bandwidth with other pitches. The idea that your pitch was one of hundreds being sent to an outlet or reporter was not just a concept. It was something you actually heard and saw.

Anyhow, damn. Those days could be a real grind. Some labor-intensive, inglorious work. Like walking uphill both ways to and from school. But it was just what you had to do so you did it.

So, here’s my point: While the tools may have changed, I honestly do not think that the fundamentals have.

PR still requires an awful lot of legwork to do right and over the past quarter century, I have found that there is no substitute for that hard work—particularly as you are starting out. Generating a Twitter following, mastering Facebook’s algorithm, researching blogs for your thought leadership project—it’s a different grind, but to succeed you’ve got to do the work.

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The practices I learned in the early 90s as an entry-level Gen Xer gave me sound fundamentals. It was a methodical process—detailed, diligent and it kept you close to your media contacts. You worked hard to find each contact and cultivate it. You knew the value of each contact and sent your pitches out into the world with each recipient in mind.

If I wanted to target my client for a radio interview, I had to listen to that radio show. If I wanted a trade or consumer magazine to feature my client’s project, I had to read the magazine. There was no website to consult or Google to search.

You had to be dialed into your media list, totally aware of who each contact was and why the hell they’d want to do a story on your news. I think this is one of those basics that has been lost in the race to automate our work, and it is the bane of the remaining working journalists who are inundated with off-topic email pitches. It’s also the bane of PR professionals who know that it takes time to do this job right but get pressure from clients who think PR is just distributing press releases to massive lists.

What Can You Do Today for Maximum Career Growth & Success?

What would happen to your pitching skills and PR instincts if you adopted these old school practices. What if you voraciously consumed the very same media you were expected to earn coverage in? What if you approached every single media contact on your media list like a wedding guest—knowing their background, your relationship to them, whether they’d want the ribeye or the vegetarian option and who they’d want to sit with?

I tell you what. You’d be successful. You’d be a rock star.

In today’s environment of cheap, plentiful and immediate information, taking pains to research and document each entry in your media list probably makes you feel like you’re doing it wrong.

Stifle that impulse. Take the time. If you have a passion for communications and telling great stories, then focus on your fundamentals. Do what might feel like drudgery. It’s called paying your dues. We all did it. If we wanted it, then we did it.

So if that’s you, don’t miss the opportunity to shine because it looks like hard work.

Put that extra care and attention into your work. Invest extra time in your day for attending a webinar to build your knowledge. Spend a little extra time every day reading up on your industry and talking to the more experienced people on your team about what you’re learning to get their take and advice.

And for god’s sake, show up. Network with journalists, other PR professionals, peers and business leaders. Volunteer on a committee so you can practice your leadership skills outside of the office to get more confident contributing during team and client meetings.

It may sound old-timey but work hard, pay your dues, take chances with your new knowledge and you will get noticed and rise quickly. I assure you, don’t be afraid to do these things for you will have one of the most exhilarating and rewarding careers imaginable.

3 PR & Marketing Tactics to Dump in 2017

By Julie Wright—President and Founder

Twitter: @JulieWright


Out with the old. In with the new! What stale PR and marketing tactics will you shed in 2017?

I’ve got a few on my naughty list this holiday season. They’re activities that perhaps at one time were strategic but now are automatic things PR and marketing professionals are doing without really thinking. Isn’t it time to leave these three things behind?

  1. Your Press Releases No One Reads

Away documents Free PhotoIt’s well past time to ditch the traditional press release.

If you want media coverage, then spend your energy and budget on developing your brand’s story and pitching it to a carefully cultivated list of media targets.

Just as advertising is the price you pay for being unremarkable, press releases are what you do when you don’t have a real PR strategy.

They’re a PR crutch and are often abused by people who think press releases are public relations.

In 2017, empower your agency or PR department to generate media coverage with creative ideas and storytelling. Focus on your communications goals and then determine if press releases are really going to help you achieve them. If not, get creative and strategic with the tactics that will actually impact your communications and business goals.

While they may not generate media coverage, you can be strategic in your use of press releases.  Use them to raise online visibility for your brand or key content to spur discovery through keyword analysis and search engine-optimized content, and to share exceptional visual content such as great photos, videos and graphics.

Just don’t continue putting them out as a proxy for a real PR strategy.

  1. Your Facebook Page that No One Sees

Facebook social media Free Vector How much time does your team spend drafting and posting content to Facebook? Now how many likes or comments does that content get you? How much traffic to your website? How much brand engagement and equity is all this effort producing?

Be honest with yourself. Is it worth it? What would happen to your business if you dumped your Facebook page? Or your Twitter account, for that matter?

If you’re doing it right, hopefully the answer would be “quite a lot.” Website visits would fall, event attendance dip and top of mind awareness would suffer.

If you can’t answer that question satisfactorily, take a hard look at what you’ve been doing and ask yourself why? Do you know what impact you want this activity to have on your business?

Now flip things around and pretend that Facebook was your only channel for reaching your audience. How would you approach it differently? Would you do more research and target better? Would you dedicate more budget to advertising? Would you study what type of content performs best?

So develop a plan in 2017 to do social media right. Or stop doing it.

Set goals for your social media activity that will support the impact you want to see for your business and then produce the content, schedule, promotion and targeting that will reach them.

  1. The Content You Spend More Time Marketing than Your Actual Product or Service

I get the concept behind content marketing. Provide people with helpful, well-packaged information that draws them in and predisposes them to like, trust and value your business so they’ll consider doing business with you.

Time and money Free Vector Do this on a massive scale and you’ll have a lead generation machine, the theory goes. With every blog post or white paper, an email has been captured so that the prospect can be continuously marketed with more friendly, helpful emails, blog posts and white papers.

That said, it’s a shit-ton of work to do this right. And if you’re the prospect, you could now have five or 10 companies trying to move you through their content marketing funnel. Your email inbox will implode!

So how much of your marketing department’s time or agency budget do you want to spend generating and marketing helpful blog posts, infographics, videos, white papers and case studies, and how much do you want to spend actually marketing your product or service to your target buyers?

I may be out of fashion here, but content marketing has to have jumped the shark a few years ago.

“With over 90% of B2B marketers cranking out ‘content,’ prospective buyers are inundated with information.”

How many buyers will be saying to themselves in 2017, “Boy, if only I could find more content?” I’m skeptical. Content is important but it is not the end in and of itself. It’s the means to an end. So in 2017 stop slaving away at the content game and make sure it’s serving your needs and not vice versa.

What tactics will you be dumping in 2017? Let us know with a comment or tweet!

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Trends Come and Go, But These 5 PR Tips Are Forever

By Aisha Belagam—Jr. Communications Strategist

Twitter: @AishaBelaPR


As we get closer to 2017, amidst a flurry of new trends, it is important to remember that the traditional fundamentals of public relations are timeless and the backbone of any campaign, be it 1977 or 2017.

Here are five forever PR techniques that I always return to, no matter what platform, reporter, or message I’m working with:

1) Write well, not good
The digital age has certainly increased the demands placed on public relations professionals. As the role has evolved into a management discipline, strategy and critical thinking drive executions. However, no matter how you slice it, writing continues to be the fundamental skill one must possess to thrive in the industry. Strong writing skills are consistently the top-rated PR skill in multitudes of surveys, including this recent one from Gould and Partners.Typewriter illustration vector Free Vector

Advanced writing skills are more important than ever in today’s changing landscape, where everything is instant. Journalists and PR professionals are dealing with 24/7 deadline pressures, while citizen journalists are simultaneously posting stories, videos, rumors, and statements that can permanently damage reputations. With heightened expectations and less time for give-and-take between journalists and publicists, it is vital that a PR professional can write well and deliver content that can be published as is, if needed.

It’s no wonder why so many PR pros, including myself, have journalism degrees.

2) Do your homework
Want to gain credibility and be taken seriously by reporters? Do your research. Distribution is easy if you spend your time wisely. Rather than blindly pitching hundreds of reporters and publications, spend your time developing a highly-targeted media list with unique angles to work with. You are more likely to spark interest this way. What has the reporter written about lately? How does it relate to your client’s story? Connect the dots and show the reporter why your story is relevant. Remember what runs through the reporter’s mind: WIFM (What’s In It For Me).

3) Put the relations back into public relations
Alluding to my last point, PR/journalist relationships still rest on the rudiments. Good chemistry trumps a random, well-crafted pitch. There is no substitution for real, emotional connection, regardless of how strategic and seamless your pitch is. Behind the screens, we are all humans. Build trust, rapport and friendships with media members and make life easier for both sides. Sure, no one has time for frequent business lunches anymore. Leverage the tools of today to balance it out. A Facebook comment, Instagram like or casual chitchat over the phone can help build that relationship.

“That Facebook video of your son taking his first steps was precious, William. Did he end up making it to the chair with some practice?”

4) Man bites dogyorkshire Free Photo
That sure got your attention. You never read about the dog that bit the man. Or about the plane that did not crash. Alfred Harmsworth’s (1865-1922) words hold true to this day. Be unusual. Make your story different. Offer a unique angle.

Why? Because as New York Sun editor John B. Bogart so eloquently said, “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”

5) Do the right thing
Public relations professionals face many unique and challenging ethical issues. Simultaneously, protecting integrity and public trust continue to be crucial to the profession’s role and reputation. That’s why it is vital to refer to the PRSA Code of Professional Ethics. Ethics make or break careers. The power of doing the right thing is illimitable.

It’s why I’m a part of (W)right On Communications. We provide award-winning, full-spectrum communications to billion-dollar companies and small businesses alike because we live by these timeless tips as we embrace the ever-changing landscape.

What matters most to you? Let us know in the comments. Or of course, tweet, tweet!

Agency Life: What I’ve Learned About PR in my First Year

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By Kara DeMent, Communications Coordinator


This month marks my first year at (W)right On Communications and my first “full” year (technically) at a PR agency, and boy have I learned a lot.

Like most new professionals, what I thought PR was in college is nothing like what it is in real life. There’s way more to it than campaigns and PR plans, like growing relationships with your clients and understanding their goals and objectives; knowing the media inside and out; staying on top of trends—the list goes on and on. Naturally, I’ve learned more than a thing or two about PR over the past year, but here are what I consider to be the three most important lessons learned:

life delivery sponge1. Be a sponge

Absorb information, take notes and ask questions. Every meeting, workshop or phone call is an opportunity to learn from your peers and clients. At WOC we’re expected to engage wholeheartedly in office discussions and we inspire one another to get out and join a workshop, webinar or become a member of a professional organization. This helps broaden our knowledge of PR and the industries we’re passionate about.

2. Finding the right media contact is cake

Tasty chocolate and cream cake Free Photo

Wrong. At WOC we’re always pitching our client’s accomplishments, but in order to secure that TV interview or front page story, you have to get it in front of the right person. Do your research for the right media contact—learn about the journalist you’re pitching, know their past writing history and show that you’re paying attention to what they’re covering.

3. Become an expert in the practice areas

This is something you learn quickly working at a PR agency. At WOC, we learn what our client partners’ expectations are, their main objectives and the best way to support them – what’s specific to the client. But we also learn the ins and outs of their industry and how we can help best achieve their goals. What works for a hospitality client might not work for an energy and tech client. At WOC we’re all about getting stuff done and achieving wins for our clients and that’s accomplished by fully immersing ourselves in the industries we support.

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Although I’m still fresh in my PR career, I’m continually learning something new every day at (W)right On, and one thing I can take away from what I learned in college and through sports communications internships is how to learn and research, and you can see from my top three list—it’s all about continuing to learn and grow in the industry.

 

If you’re looking to explore the PR industry or need expert advice, call or email our team of PR pros. We’d be happy to speak at your next meeting or work seminar, (858) 755-5411 or info@wrightoncomm.com.