Inbound Marketing and PR must go hand in hand to achieve sales
How often does your PR team speak to the marketing team? Once a week, once a month, possibly never? Today, you won't achieve sales without it being a daily occurrence.
PR can no longer be out on a limb left to its own devices. It has to be intrinsic to the overall marketing strategy and the best place to start is with inbound.
Inbound has a major objective to smash, namely get the sales funnel full of qualified leads. That means having very high quality content on the site to attract buyers. Content that will help people discover your products and services and your approach to business. But more than this it must be empathetic.
What do we mean by this? With so much content available it's very hard for people to select the articles that will help them to do their job and / or make the right decision. Content therefore has to be written in such a way that it understands and goes some way to solve the problems people face day to day.
Take a CIO under pressure to deliver IoT, improve efficiency, reduce cost yet protect customer revenue. It's very likely that she will be looking at the advent of 5G and the benefits it will bring to the supply chain.
However, it's also just as likely that she will be asking how it will impact network and application security and if it can be managed with artificial intelligence, and if so at what price. If your content can answer these questions and more then you are on to a winner.
Strategic approach to content production
This approach is a strategy that has been used by our agency for years. We call it issues management. Finding a pain point and providing an opinion on how it can be solved. Then using these topics to produce original and forthright comment for features and opinion pieces, through to research and reports that can placed with the press.
Strangely though it's not a strategy that's being employed by the inbound marketing teams. Often they are churning out content to fill up a website. It's content for contents sake. It's not aligned to the problems people want to solve - the very reason why their product or service exists in the first place.
Content management therefore needs to be more strategic in its make up if it is to win eyeballs. And at its very best it won't just win the loyalty of people looking to buy right now, but be a destination for people to come back to time and again to find out the latest thinking on a business challenge or technical development. It builds the brand and makes sales, It reinforces 'why choose you'. In fact Sirius Decisions says that up to 67% of the B2B buyer journey now involves self‐directed research online. It can't be ignored then.
Organising content effectively
A good way to organise content is to create a centralised hub that is searchable. It should have longer pieces that really delve into a topic and shorter pieces that provide high level summaries that spin off the central pieces.
When you create a repository like this you are also doing yourselves a massive favour when it comes to Google search rankings. Google will know the topics are considered valuable and that yours should be highly rated. After all, what is the point in producing the articles if no one will find them?
But it can't stop there. There will be a role for social media to play to attract people to the site, another for email campaigns, one for PR and so on....
Before you know it you have an integrated marketing approach, which uses the content that's produced as bait across every channel you communicate on. The beauty of this is that you have one piece of content to promote but lots of different ways of getting it out there - from opinion pieces placed in the press, to LinkedIn posts, through tweets with images, to email campaigns offering access to an report that provides a 'deep dive' into the issues of the day.
Using marketing channels wisely
Of course, some people will respond to certain types of content distribution better than others. Some will read CRN, Computer Weekly and IDG Connect avidly, others will dip in and out of LinkedIn to see what others are doing and recommending, others will use events, some will read every email they receive, others won't read any.
The trick is therefore to ensure you understand what works and what doesn't so you know where to spend your time and your money, but to also be 100% aligned across your internal teams. Every marketing function, including PR, should be pushing the same message and pushing it hard at the same time.
Only then can you create an 'owned' media strategy that delivers leads that are both qualified and will convert.