Standing out from the crowd has never been more challenging. After all, we are busier communicating with each other and more connected globally than we’ve ever been.
At the time of writing, just under half the world’s population (46.1%) is online (that’s over 3,600,000,000 people).
We’re operating 1,231,343,424 websites and crafting, drafting and posting 5,000,000 blogs every 24 hours.
Every single second we’re sharing 7,000 tweets, uploading 729 images to Instagram, watching 125,406 videos on You Tube and conducting 54,000 Google searches (back in 1998 when it launched Google was handling a paltry 10,000 search queries per day).
So how do owner-managers like you make themselves heard above such a digital racket?
The answer is simple.
You don’t need to reach out to every single person online, on Facebook or Twitter.
In your niche business-to-business village you only have to target, engage and communicate with dozens, hundreds or thousands of customers and prospects, not millions, billions or trillions.
That’s a much less daunting prospect, one you can achieve with the right PR communications strategy and tactics in place to ensure your voice is heard loud and clear where it matters most.
However, before you launch any new PR and communications activity, why not give yourself a quick PR healthcheck.
Use my 10 essential steps as a guide to help you review how you can engage more effectively with your B2B community.
1 Always pursue perfection
Try to be the best you can be at what you do. An obvious aspiration for all of us, no matter what our field of expertise. But it is your job to make sure this is a reality for your business now rather than a distant future pipe-dream. Remember, it takes just as much time and effort to something badly as it does to do it well.
2 Your true public image
Everything you say and do, or don’t say and don’t do, contributes to your public image and how people will perceive you and your business. People always like to talk about a bad experience rather than a good one. Think of the things that really annoy you when you’re purchasing, engaging or building a business relationship! Then avoid doing them yourself.
3 Your people count
As a business employing people, you’re only as effective as your weakest link. That’s why it is important to have the buy-in from your entire team when you’re striving to be the best. If you’re embarking on PR and communications activity, make sure your team is kept in the picture. Explain what you’re doing and why … and welcome positive feedback. They are your ambassadors, frontline champions. Your PR and communications campaigns will work harder for you with their support.
4 Accumulate empirical evidence
You are an expert in your chosen field. You want others to see you are too. Gather empirical evidence to show your expertise. Keep a project log to record progress. Note challenges and how you’re resolving them. Crucially, ask your client’s opinion about the job you’re doing and write their words down. Third-party endorsements are priceless (don’t forget to ask for their consent if you want to share their comments). Once banked, you can draw on the empirical evidence you’ve accumulated to show others that you have the expertise to meet their similar issues.
5 Express your expertise
You’ve invested time, money and effort acquiring expertise in a niche field where you shine. You’ve also invested your energies into recording empirical evidence to show your expertise. Naturally you want to share this expertise with the people who need it. Existing and future customers who face challenges you can help solve. Opinion formers who influence how people think in your sector. Peers who will applaud your achievements. Creating and sharing content shows how you identify and solve the challenges faced in your niche business sector. Doing this on a regular on-going basis (rather than one-off campaigns) will help you become a recognised authority people respect and want to hear from. When you speak they will listen.
6 Reach out and share
There are many ways to produce content to prove your expertise. These range from press releases, case studies and video to blogs, opinion pieces and speaker events. Use them all if you can. Similarly, share information across all available media platforms from traditional print and broadcast media to publishing content on your own website and via your own and third party social media and online tools. Use them all but make sure you specifically tailor content for each platform. We all have all our idiosyncratic ways of connecting and what applies to one person might not apply to the next. The skill is to take a great story and make it really bust a gut for you.
There are only two real benchmark figures that business owner-managers are truly interested in … sales and margins. Any other statistics, although important, are merely window dressing compared to the main attraction of carrying out profitable business. However, visits to your www, opens on e-mail newsletters and white paper downloads are terrific indicators that your PR and communications activity is reaching out to the right people. The stats are relevant as proofs that the busier you are, the more people you can engage with on a regular basis. Remember, if you say and do nothing, nobody will be able to listen to your or discover your about business.
8 Talking or stalking?
There is lots of really clever automation and ID software to inform you about the people you’re reaching with your PR and communications activity. However, that information is only going to be of use to you if you are remain relevant to them after you’ve captured their initial interest. Now you’ve grabbed their attention, regularly release and share more engaging content rather than try to get them to buy before they are read. All the content you’re producing is building confidence in you and driving them towards a one-to-one conversation, which is going to be your best opportunity to convert interest and engagement into a profitable sale and sustained business relationship.
9: Busy bees!
Successful PR and communications is a marathon, not a sprint. You want to plan your activity over a sustained period of time. Release and share content on an on-going regular planned proactive basis rather than adopting a frenzied shotgun approach, blasting away hoping you might hit something. You’ve created engaging killer content based on your expertise and solution solving credentials. You’ve built sharing platforms to reach out to existing customers and prospects. Your final part of your plan is to put together a release schedule, ideally covering a 12 month period and designed to co-incide with complementary activity taking place locally, nationally or internationally.
10: Make decisions
When the late Tim Bacon, co-founder and owner of Living Ventures, spoke at a hospitality trade event in Manchester a few years ago, he talked about the importance of decision making. “You have got to keep making decisions. It does not matter if they are right or wrong because if you make a wrong decision and you’ve got the brains to decide that it is wrong you just change it for another decision and eventually you will start getting it right. That is the process of success, being prepared to make decisions and making mistakes.”
As Tim rightly implied, if you’re NOT making any decisions about PR and communications, then you’re merely going to be treading water, waiting for something to happen without any real attempt to control your own journey or pro-actively influence your destiny.
Author Andrew Field – AFC #Marketing Manchester
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