Posted by on Jul 28, 2017 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips | 0 comments

Raise Your Profile with Public Relations

public relations, PR, marketing

Public relations

Have you ever wonder how your competitors get those great article opportunities? Or why they are always mentioned in the press about their product/ service? It’s because somewhere they discovered the use of public relations.

Are you your industry’s best-kept secret? Or are you trying to break into a new market? Do you want to share your company’s expertise with industry journals?

What is PR?

Wikipedia defines public relations as:

pub·lic re·la·tions ˈpəblik rəˈlāSHənz/

Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the public.[1] Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment.[2] This differentiates it from advertising as a form of marketing communications. Public relations is the idea of creating coverage for clients for free, rather than marketing or advertising. An example of good public relations would be generating an article featuring a client, rather than paying for the client to be advertised next to the article.[3]

 

There are a few important threads in this definition:

  • Managing the spread of information
  • Exposure to audiences
  • Different from paid advertising

Public relations comes in two main formats – press releases and article opportunities. There is an art to press releases and we have discussed them in these three previous blog posts:

  1. Why Editors Don’t Read Your Press Releases
  2. 4 Key Essentials of a Press Release That Gets You Noticed
  3. Why You Shouldn’t Talk About Your Product or Service

 

Why Use Public Relations

The purpose of public relations is to inform your audience that you do something. The goal is to develop a PR strategy that keeps your news flow consistent and provides information on what your customers need to know (which would be how your product or service solves their challenges.)

 

What Should Your PR Program Contain?

Your public relations platform should include press releases and articles- thought leadership articles. Most importantly, it should also have articles from your customers about how your product or service enabled them to do their job or solved a task they couldn’t solve without you.

Press releases need to inform publication editors not only about your company but how your company enables their readership. It can’t just be about your latest new widget – it has to tell them why this widget helps their readers. They can’t translate information to their audience if you don’t help them.

Thought leadership articles prove to readers that you understand what they do and how they do it. Articles like these show potential customers that you have experience in their industry and can help them get their job done. A great example of a valuable article is one that features a client. By having your customer tell their story you validate your understanding of your customers’ needs.

Public relations is the second stop on your journey to mastering the MarCom wheel. Learn to raise your profile as a thought leader here.

 

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Posted by on Jul 17, 2017 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips | 0 comments

Why You Still Need Marketing Collateral

marketing collateral, Brochures, White papers, Case studies, Sell Sheets, FAQs

Marketing Collateral, Brochures, White papers, Case studies, Sell Sheets, FAQs

I’m often asked- are brochures still a thing to do? Or are they passé?

My answer to my marketing clients is this:

Customers are on a journey. Your marketing needs to provide signposts along the way, steering prospects down the path to your products and solutions. Collateral, like brochures, is the beginning step in telling a story about your product or service. In marketing collateral like brochures you don’t just want to tell your feature/benefit story, you want show the value that your product or service will bring to your customers.

Types of Marketing Collateral

Marketing collateral should be your platform to tell your story. This platform can come in many different forms:

  • Brochures
  • White Papers
  • Case Studies
  • Sell Sheets
  • FAQs (which are very helpful for a disruptive technology)
  • Tailored pieces for a specific application- letting customers know you know what their challenges are.

See Your Collateral through Your Customers’ Eyes

We are often so focused on our newest feature or benefit we forget to look at collateral from our customers’ point of view. Try looking at your latest brochure with these questions in mind.

  • Have you left enough white space so their eye gets a rest?
  • Did you deliver the “What Is In It For Me” in the first paragraph?
  • Did you forget to use great graphics that enable them to understand what you’re explaining?
  • Are you telling them why they want to look at your product/ service?
  • Have you mentioned what your product or service will add to their daily routine or how will it make their job/ task easier?
  • Did you tell them what the net return will be for their company?

How to Use Marketing Collateral

The next question I hear a lot is: “How do I use these tools?” Here are some ideas:

  • As follow-up to conferences/tradeshows or sales calls – use not just a piece of literature but a white paper and or case study as well.
  • Use public relations to let the press and community know that you have a unique application note or white paper.
  • Use eMarketing to develop a longer conversation with customers through a lead nurturing program.
  • Use your collateral assets in both print and digital advertising
  • Use it to update your website.
  • Incorporate it into your social media

Collateral should always be used as part of an integrated approach. We often tend to get siloed on a specific task and we forget to integrate into our overall marketing what we develop for that task. Using marketing materials will help your customers understand what your value is. They’ll see it in different formats that fit your brand and remind them why they should consider your product or service. And they’ll be reminded what value you bring to them.

Do you have questions about what marketing collateral you need and how to use it? Visit us here and learn more about how we can help you.

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Posted by on May 23, 2016 in Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

4 Key Essentials of a Press Release That Gets You Noticed

Get Attention PRPR is important, but it’s even more important that it’s done correctly. When your press release doesn’t include these five key elements you won’t get that key editor to take notice of your company, and your public relations’ efforts will fail. The next time you’re called on to produce a press release, keep these five things in mind.

 

Is There Industry Interest?

Like it or not, a press release needs to interest an editor in the first paragraph or it won’t make the cut. It’s the same advice given to job applicants about their resume attracting the attention of time-crunched human resources managers.

Editors often see 50 or more press releases each day. That means you have only a couple of minutes to make an impression and pique their interest in your story. And your story needs to be important and of interest to your industry – it can’t be simply a marketing message or company celebration. (You may want to read my prior post about what makes an editor take notice of your story.)

How Strong Is Your Headline & Lede?

Every good press release starts with a strong headline. In many cases there is also a subhead that provides a bit more information. These two key items are followed by a compelling opening lead paragraph. That means clear, concise language without errors – and a message that gets right to the point.

For instance, if your company is launching a new product – with a breakthrough technology that has significant performance advantages over other competing technologies – the editors should know that by the time they have read the first sentence of your press release. It’s even better if they know this from just reading the headline and subheading.

Yes, it does seem elementary, but you’d be surprised how many press releases “bury the lede” – the main reason for the story. Instead of getting right to the point, they begin with a rose-colored recap of the 20 years of innovation at the company, followed by a pointless quote from the CEO about how proud they are of their storied history.

Editors won’t spend time searching for a story in your press release. Spending time on what amounts to fluff from the beginning is a sure-fire way to prevent an editor from learning about your big news.

 

Good Writing Counts

If your press release gets straight to the point, that’s a good first step. But you need to make sure the release itself is well written and devoid of grammatical and spelling errors. Like it or not, the people you are presenting your story to write and edit similar content every day. Most have very high standards when it comes to the written word, so be sure you don’t distract them from your story with poor writing and typos.

While you might make the first cut by putting the important stuff first, your news still needs to compete with other press releases to make the final cut. Make sure the writing throughout is clear, factual and devoid of careless little mistakes. Details matter to editors. They want to know when they call to request an interview that details matter to you, as well. Industry editors want to know you will get them the information they need for their story.

 

Help the Editor Serve Their Readership

To interest an editor in your story, it’s vital you understand what good editors consider the most important part of their job – serving their readers. In the trade publishing world, good editors are keenly attuned to their readers.

Editors know exactly who their readers are and what their jobs are. They talk to readers regularly to get feedback and to better understand their business challenges. Using this information, editors select which stories to cover based on how interested their readers will be in the topic, and whether it affects them in ways that may have an impact on their job or business.

As an editor for more than 20 years, I’ve often fielded calls from companies who have sent me a press release and acted like it was my job to serve them. The implication was that the best way for me to do that would be to publish whatever information they happen to send me. While it is true you can find so-called news outlets out there who will publish anything (often for a price), the best coverage you can get for your company’s news is in the pages of publications that people in your industry read regularly. Trade publication information is presented clearly, objectively and is of real importance to the industry.

 

Getting the Editorial Green Light

Trade and industry publications and their editors should be your prize. Peppering their inboxes with trivial press releases or poorly-written press releases that don’t get to the point quickly almost always ensures they will eventually treat all your press releases like email spam. Delete!

However, if you consistently provide industry editors with good, solid press releases that are well-written – even if only a few times each year – you will gain their trust and significantly increase your chances of getting regular coverage for your company.

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Posted by on Apr 18, 2016 in Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips | 0 comments

Why Editors Don’t Read Your Press Releases

Press Releases

Press Releases

I’m going to let you in on a little secret – trade and business publication editors aren’t reading your press releases.

Yes, I know you spend good money to get your press releases published in the trade press in your industry, so this may come as a shock. But let’s be clear, while they aren’t reading your press release, they still read plenty of others that land in their email inbox each day. Some of those press releases even get editors assigned to do a more in-depth story.

So how come editors aren’t reading your press releases, but they are giving time to your competition’s information?

Well, it’s probably because you wasted the editors’ time in the past – likely on more than one occasion – and as a result they have come to expect nothing of value in PR from your company.

But how do you make sure that you’re not wasting their time? Ask yourself if your press release contains solid news.

 

The No-News Press Release

The biggest mistake companies make with distribution of press releases is failing to differentiate between what is a marketing message and what is news. Press releases should contain solid news and never be a substitute for marketing.

I’ve been a B2B editor for more than 20 years and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received a press release, started to read it, and then deleted it 15 seconds later – all the while thinking “they should just buy an ad.”

What type of press release elicits the ‘delete’ response?

Well, it’s usually the ones that describe an existing product’s features and goes on to describe how their product is better than their competitor’s similar product. Is that something your company should be proud of? Certainly. Is it news? Is it something a thick-skinned editor who sees 50 press releases a day is likely to send along to a reporter to dig into? No, absolutely not.

 

Company Celebrations Are Not News

Another example of information that is not a good fit for a press release is any company celebration. If it sounds like you are patting yourself on the back, it’s not what an editor wants to cover in their trade publication.

This includes events like celebrating your 5th anniversary in business or a ribbon-cutting ceremony on a newly-expanded warehouse. Yes, I know you bought cake and brought in employees from satellite offices. So go ahead and share that cake with your employees and celebrate. But don’t expect editors to care. They don’t.

And they don’t care for one very simple reason – these events don’t have an impact on the industry as a whole. They don’t change the competitive balance, they don’t bring a new class of product or service to the market that fills an existing void, they don’t represent moving into new geographic market, etc. In short, they are not the kind of information that might cause a reader to consider changing with whom or how they do business, or the way they do their job.

 

The Information Editors Do Want

Editors want information that is important to their readers. It has to matter to the industry. News should be game-changing – filling market gaps, introducing disruptive technologies and giving the industry a reason to question how they do business, or who they might want to do business with in the future.

If you have questions about your press releases, give Brandwidth Solutions a call. We’d be happy to help you sort out your PR.

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Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

How Important Are Case Studies?

Do you read reviews before heading out to a new restaurant? Or how about the last time you bought a TV or computer – did you hit up Amazon or CNET to check out what others had to say about the product you were considering? If they were positive, you came to believe the experience with that restaurant or product would be positive for you too. Those reviews are mini case studies.

Case studies are an integral part of your marketing collateral. They are a great way to showcase your company’s products and/or services without simply listing what you do. They also provide support by demonstrating a proven track record.

How Do Case Studies Work?

Case studies work in an indirect fashion to sell your services by:

  • Telling stories
  • Focusing on customer issues
  • Illustrating successful solutions

 

Storytelling

Our brains remember things better when they are engaged. Stories that illustrate problems and successful solutions are more memorable because they engage the reader in an emotional way. For scientific evidence on this you might want to venture over here.

Using a storytelling format for case studies is a good way to change the way you explain your products and services. Think of it this way, a story that relates to your personal situation is far easier to remember than a bulleted shopping list.

Tip: Don’t forget storytelling is an important part of your social media as well. You might want to “share” some case studies on your social media platforms.

 

Customer Issues Solved!

Don’t take our word for it, though! Case studies are about you—but only indirectly. They are built from the perspective of your clients—what their problems were and how those problems were solved by your company. Yes, they explain your products and/or services, but they are more about your clients.

Brandwidth Solutions has found that prospective clients react very well to case studies, because they have typically encountered similar obstacles. Case studies help prospects see similarities to themselves, and how they can get similar positive results.

 

Successful Solutions

Sure, you can talk until you are blue in the face about how great your product or service is, but isn’t reality more persuasive than just talk? Case studies show prospects how your product/service can be implemented, and how success was achieved. Real results are much more powerful than abstract theories. Demonstrating success helps your credibility.

Case Studies also illustrate problem-solving skills. It’s all in the math:

Problem X + Solution Y = Success

How can you argue with that?

 

The bottom line is case studies are an inexpensive, but highly powerful way to:

  • Communicate what your company does
  • Show why a prospect should invest in your product/service
  • Demonstrate how you have achieved success for other clients

Wondering how to write a successful case study, here is some more information to help you out.

We’re curious, how have case studies helped your sales?


 

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Posted by on Oct 27, 2014 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Is Marketing Collateral Still Relevant?

Marketing Collateral BWSWhen it comes to marketing, managers need to figure out the best places to invest their marketing dollars. These days many managers question whether or not they should be spending money on marketing collateral.

Is marketing collateral still relevant in this electronic world?

The answer is yes. The number one thing most people think of when they hear the term marketing collateral is that it’s just another brochure, but it’s much, much more than that.

What Qualifies as Marketing Collateral?

Marketing collateral consists of the following:

  • Brochures
  • Case Studies
  • Content Development
  • Sell Sheets
  • Tech Notes
  • White Papers

 

How Marketing Materials Support Your Sales Process

Having varied types of collateral not only supports your sales team, it reinforces your brand, and can even generate leads.

Sales Support

Collateral supports your sales team on multiple levels. It gives your sales team something tangible to hand to a client, and reinforces your message for sales reps. Items such as tech notes and white papers provide data support (and we know how much scientists love their data).

Marketing materials remain after the sales rep has left a sales call. This gives the potential buyer time with your product to review and come up with any follow-up questions for you.

When we’re talking B2B sales, most likely it’s not just one person making the buying decision. They need to go to their management team and get approval for the purchase. Collateral ensures your marketing message remains intact as it travels up the decision-making chain.

 

Reinforce Your Brand

Brand recognition is key. Collateral is part of what helps build and maintain brand image. Good marketing material will differentiate you from your competition and help you stand out. It brings your company to the forefront of your prospects’ minds and makes you memorable. You want your brand to be synonymous with certain products and/or industries, and your collateral will help you get there.

One of the misconceptions about collateral is that it’s all just sales materials. You can use collateral to strategically place you above the completion by using past successes, like case studies or current client feedback. These elements provide the tools to create your credibility in your field instead of just selling a product.

 

Generate Leads

This is one of the most underused functions of collateral, and ironically one of the most important. Yes, if you hand out a brochure you can hope for a phone call back, but you should think a little more digitally.

Keeping yourself relevant in an electronic world is important. The web is where you can capitalize on your collateral. On your website or even a landing page you can offer downloadable white papers or tech notes. Requiring an individual to register their email address to download these items leaves you with a new lead.

Collateral is just as important as any member of staff. It affects your bottom line and without it you’re putting yourself at risk of losing potential sales. Check out some more information on collateral here.

What are your questions about collateral?


 

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