Business-to-business companies face an uphill sales battle unknown in the B2C world. B2B companies aren’t just selling their products or services, they’re selling reputations, relationships, value propositions and more to customers and prospects who can be a tough sell.
Just as any company won’t run itself without someone behind the wheel of public relations, B2B companies can’t effectively market these tangible and intangible differentiators to target audiences.
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, the quintessential holiday of gratitude, it’s only appropriate to appreciate the facets of marketing that make great B2B companies visible and known to key demographics. So before out-of-office replies start clogging email inboxes, here are six reasons for B2B companies to be thankful for public relations:
1. PR is a better value than advertising.
Public relations, when it’s done well, is a terrific bang for the buck. A single, one-time ad placement in a magazine could cost more than an entire year’s worth of PR services. At the time of this writing, for example, the color ad rate for Fast Company is $108,500, according to PR database Cision. For most companies, that’s a hefty chunk of the marketing budget for a single placement (if not all of it).
Public relations, by contrast, is a constant pushing and pulling of relationships. It’s an avenue to tell stories and shape messages. When handled by a PR firm, this is typically done with a retainer, meaning teams are constantly working to generate press coverage in new and innovative ways, not just placing one-time ad runs.
2. PR is more effective than advertising.
To the same end, PR is inherently more valuable than advertising. It’s more likely to be read, and it’s also more likely to be believed. That’s because when a journalist writes an article about a company or an editor publishes an article by a thought leader, it’s given an implied third-party endorsement. Advertising, however, doesn’t carry that same endorsement because readers know that those spots were paid for. It’s just a transaction.
3. PR is the perfect way to hit your target audience.
B2B companies sell to other professionals—people who, more often than not, are lifelong learners and invested in the news of their trades. By sharing successes, expertise and thought leadership to the media outlets read by your audiences, you’re getting to the heart of your prospects—through their brain.
4. PR builds thought leadership
If you've got it, flaunt it. Public relations efforts allow you to leverage the best and brightest in your company and share them with the outside world (and more importantly, your prospects). For instance, if your chief technology officer is a respected expert in data recovery strategies, he’s a perfect source to pitch to journalists on all things related to data recovery, network systems, backup software and more.
5. PR drives people back to your website.
PR and digital marketing are complementary to one another. Since most media outlets publish content online, they’ll often link to websites of the businesses they mention in their articles. As a bylined author for a thought-leadership article, you also have the chance to link to your company’s website—even social media pages—in an author’s bio. These links encourage readers to head to your website to learn more. And because these readers are choosing to learn more about your company by clicking a link—and not just digitally stumbling there by happenstance—those visitors are more likely to stay on your site longer and look at more pages.
PR also builds brand awareness—the kind that encourages more direct traffic to your site from search engines.
6. It’s another way to compete.
If you’re like most of us in the business world, you probably love to compete (read: "win"). And public relations offers companies another way to stay competitive. By executing a strong public relations strategy, you have an opportunity to own the largest share of voice amongst competitors and become journalists’ go-to resource on topics.
After all, if you’re not sharing your insight into the industry, someone else is—and that will put you behind the pack.
What about PR and marketing are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?
Meredith Yates is account manager at the Bradford Group. firstname.lastname@example.org