Marketing in the world of B2B is anything but straightforward. Unlike in B2C, you don’t have a mass audience of millions to market and sell to. In fact, it’s more than likely, depending on the complexity of your solution, you may have a handful of accounts each year and a handful of competitors also trying to win their business in the same way you are. It is undisputable that B2B Marketing has a direct impact on demand and lead generation efforts, and the marketing department naturally fits alongside the sales teams to create these all-important business leads. When it comes to budget allocation each year, these two departments are obvious first priorities for a business, however, what about PR? Where does this often overlooked marketing tool sit under demand generation efforts?
What many decision makers fail to realise is that PR is actually a vital element in demand generation. In fact, many of our clients rely on PR to help spread brand awareness, reach investors and meet vital funding targets. When observing the right measures of success, and targeting the right audience, PR can have a direct impact on lead generation.
This article will focus on how the correct integration of your PR function into field marketing will increase the success of your demand generation significantly.
The Illusive Integration
Integration is difficult – we don’t have to tell you how hard it is to get different teams working together cohesively – but integration is key. Once your PR function is fully integrated within marketing, and within sales, demand generation will follow. So, how do you go about integrating PR into demand generation?
Let’s have a quick look at the definition of demand generation – a lot of people we come across still aren’t entirely sure what this means, most of them get bogged down with the definition of lead cycles, debate about subscribers versus contacts, MQLs versus SQLs and so on. However, if you can look past the acronyms, it simply means generating demand. Once this definition is stripped back and understood, things get a whole lot easier.
Generating demand is a complex function within marketing, one that is usually not given as much time as generating leads, which is likely why generating the leads is so difficult.
Your Neon Sign
Doing business without demand generation is like waving to someone in the dark; you know what you’re doing, but no one else does.
So, let’s say your business is currently operating in the dark, you approach other people in the same dark room and try to sell them a flash light. The problem is that they’ve never heard of you, they can’t judge your flashlights against other flashlights on the market, and mostly, they can’t see you so aren’t sure if they can trust you. Are you a reputable flashlight provider? Have you been in the business long? Do you have reviews, investors, a presence?
This darkness is what lead generation is like without demand generation. Demand generation is the neon sign guiding people through the dark to your business, providing an attractive and trustworthy source of light and letting them know that you sell the best flashlights on the market. Once they approach your neon sign, selling them your flashlights should be a breeze – they’re already interested in them – and you don’t have to be grasping around in the dark.
Okay, but how does PR fit in with my Neon Sign?
PR has everything to do with your neon sign. PR is the main source of electricity that provides the light to your neon sign, keeping it going and helping it to shine brighter than everyone else’s.
Let’s bring this back to the real world. Let’s say a SaaS, B2B machine learning company providing a product that focuses on automated replenishment for grocery organisations is struggling with sales. Let’s say that the marketing department of this company, let’s call them the Neon Light Ltd., have tried everything from account-based marketing through to hiring inside sales specialists to help, but even when they do manage to secure meetings, they never move forward, or worse, the sales team go through an 18-month sales cycle just to be rejected in the end with a “We’ve decided to hire an in house team to do this for us.”
Yeah, okay, but how does PR help?
Remember the electricity you need for your Neon Light? PR is one of the power outlets that provides this, along with social media, advertising, content marketing and events. Take one of these elements away, and your Neon Sign is going to be a little less bright than your competitors.
Gone are the days when a company could take an advert out in the paper, sit back and watch the orders roll in. With the internet, every business is Google-able, every news article is traceable and every word that has been written and published about your company is there ready for any potential buyer or investor to see. PR helps feed into your business’ online presence, both ensuring that you have one and that it fits in with your organisation’s ethics and targets.
Ensuring your PR efforts are switched on means that your neon sign remains bright and eye-catching. With the right team, efforts, and integration, it will be easy to justify any PR activity in the overall demand generation plan.