By Victoria Rossi, Managing Director, i-media-international
Companies in all stages of the business lifecycle, and all levels of success, can use P.R. to grow sales but too often, P.R. is treated as a separate discipline unrelated to sales or simply left out of the marketing mix. This leaves opportunity and a powerful sales tool on the table ready and waiting for your competitor to grab and run. Don’t be that guy or gal. Here are 5 simple ways you can use PR to nurture your business development and marketing efforts to grow your sales.
- Awareness: PR is about creating awareness. Awareness of your product, service, expertise, organization, and success. Awareness is the most basic principle in sales. Use PR to create broader awareness of your company and what it offers through an article about your company, a mention about your new service, a featured case study about one of your solutions, an article written by someone on your team showcasing their expertise, a quote provided by one of your executives, a speaking opportunity, a press release about a successful outcome with one of your clients, etc. Approach trusted media and industry events that have established audiences that are in alignment with your target market. This will allow you to use their reach to grow yours, and create awareness of your product, service, and expertise with a broader group of potential prospects.
How effective can this be? Imagine this scenario. Imagine you are at a cocktail party. You see the CEO of a company you’ve been trying to connect with for months. As you approach, you practice your opening line and put your hand out to introduce yourself. While he is polite and smiles, he doesn’t seem too interested in what you are saying. Suddenly he perks up, and says, “Excuse me, but I see someone I’d like to speak with. I read about him in XYZ Trade Magazine, and it seems they have the expertise and perfect solution to my company’s problem.” He makes his way around you, and you turn to see him introducing himself to your competitor.
Bonus Assignment: Extend awareness of the coverage or speaking engagement to your prospect and customer database by including a link to it in your company newsletter, posting it on your social media channels and website, and most importantly, sending the link to prospects and clients with a personal note. If you’re speaking at an event, invite prospects and customers to attend, send out a press release about your participation, have someone take pictures and post the pictures on your company’s social media channels.
- Consistency: Consistency in sales and marketing is extremely important. It helps build credibility, familiarity and trust, all which enhance and forward your sales efforts. P.R. can help provide consistency, deliver information about your company, product, or expertise, and help you reach your prospect/target audience via multiple touchpoints and angles. Create a schedule to send an article a month featuring your organization to your prospect and client database. This will make it easier for happy customers to forward the article to colleagues and refer business to you, while at the same time keeping your company constantly present and top-of-mind with your target audience/prospect in a positive manner.
- Value: Providing value is a demonstration of your commitment to be of service. It helps build credibility and trust in your organization. A P.R. agency or in-house team can work on your behalf to provide opportunities for you to write and publish informational articles in your area of expertise, develop and market informative white papers, develop and publish industry research, and much more. These actions will serve the purpose of providing value to your target audience and moving the conversation forward in your target industry. In addition, it will demonstrate your commitment, showcase your expertise, and position your organization as a resource and thought leader.
- Credibility: Before trust comes credibility. Building credibility with new prospects and your target audience is a key part of the business development process. Garnering ongoing press presence, having an article written by you or about your company published in a trade publication, and having your executives speak at industry events will help you build credibility by demonstrating your expertise, experience, and thought leadership. It will also put you in touch with potential prospects and generate leads. A well-crafted P.R. program should deliver all of these credibility-building opportunities on an ongoing basis. You will find potential customers approaching you, instead of the other way around.
- Trust: Once you have established a constant presence, have provided value, established credibility, and demonstrated your expertise, your target audience will start to trust you and your organization, and begin to see you as a resource. This will go a long way in forwarding your sales and business development program, in some subtle ways, like getting a meeting on your first call, and in some not so subtle ways, like your sales pipeline.