December 8, 2020
We all know the pressure before Christmas to sign-off plans for 2020. It’s a rush to make sure that your B2B PR campaign is prepped and ready to go for the New Year.
However, this push to get things done can often overlook a valuable opportunity to reflect, test and properly assess the contribution that your PR programme made in the previous 12 months and to get it properly aligned for the year ahead.
Instead of hitting Control D to duplicate your marketing plans, take the time to evaluate what has previously been done, reinforce where you want to be in the future, and then plan the steps you need to take this year to be a thought-leader in your market.
We can all get into a culture of ‘busyness’, where our vision narrows, and we get trapped in the mad dash to get things done. But this doesn’t lead to transformation of your communications. To do that you need to be strategic, creative and focussed on the right things.
We’ve put together a check list of 10 steps to guide you through an annual review plus some key questions to ask yourself. Think of it as a MOT for your marketing communications.
Why – Start with your purpose.
Conducting a B2B PR campaign should never be just about the services you provide or products that you sell. That might work for some forms of marketing, but those businesses that connect with their market are the ones who understand their why, their purpose. We recommend listening to Simon Sineck’s TedTalk, where he talks about the importance of finding your ‘why’, and differentiating yourself from those companies who only focus on what they do.
The same value applies to PR, where communicating why you exist, your purpose and the change that you want to see in the world transforms your communications.
Your purpose is not some clever strapline to put on all your communications. It’s embodied in everything that you do and how your customers experience you.
Is your purpose clear in how you communicate?
Is your customers’ experience reflecting your purpose?
Your purpose needs to be consistent in every interaction with your business. For your employees, your stakeholders, your suppliers and your customers.
Challenges – What your market is facing.
We talk about this as the outside in approach. When devising PR campaigns, we can quickly become caught up in communicating our own products and services. But is the market responding to what you offer? Or are there other challenges that your customers are facing but you might be missing?
We can easily become ingrained in our business and rarely look up and out at the market. And if you haven’t touched your SWOT analysis since your last business plan, now is definitely the time to revisit it.
What are the topics and themes that are getting the most traction?
What are the questions that people are asking?
What surveys have been conducted that talk about the pains / challenges in the market?
Competitors – Your new competition.
The more established the organisation, the slower it can be to change and adapt. Equally, we can easily become wrapped up in our own world and not look out at what’s happening in the market around us. Young, challenging organisations are constantly emerging, nibbling at the heels of market leaders. Take the time to do a market review.
Who is new in your market?
Which companies are getting attention?
How do you compare against the competition? Look at what you do as well as the results to assess gaps in the market. Try finding the blue ocean.
Evaluate - Dig into your data.
Look back over your previous 12 months trading. What have been the services and products that you’ve sold most of? How have those relationships been established? What have been the most successful marketing campaigns – and how are you measuring these?
What does this data show you?
Have demands changed and shifted?
What about the type and value of customers? Do they have the same buying habits as they’ve previously exhibited?
And are your customer profiles still relevant?
Message – Resonance with your market.
When you’ve understood your purpose and you’ve looked out at the market – you now need to do a brand check. With the world changing so quickly around us, we need to keep our communications fresh and relevant.
Research by Orbit Media finds that you should redesign your website every 2.66 years. Your messages need just as much attention.
Every market will flex and adapt, and new themes emerge. It’s important not to become complacent. When talking about people and productivity in business, the new themes being discussed are Mental health and wellbeing, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, diversity and inclusion. This type of research is also valuable for developing new products and services.
Are your messages aligned with the market?
Do they need to be refreshed to reflect new trends?
Research - Take a view.
We can become emotionally invested in our brands. After all, we will have spent time and resources designing our look and feel. But this can make us blind. A quick pulse survey to your staff, suppliers and customers is invaluable to capture external viewpoints. And it can provide that much needed unbiased and external view of what you are doing.
Have you spoken to a selection of your customers?
Do you know what they value about your company?
Are your employees fully engaged in what you offer?
Inspiration - Read, watch and research.
When we get busy, the first thing to go is time to research, read and watch. Sitting down for a few hours and reading a business book or publication or watching videos on YouTube or TedTalks might be considered a waste of time. But we disagree. It’s extremely valuable and by stepping outside of what we need to get done, we can often uncover new things that could be done. And that’s an exciting place to be.
What new business books are out there?
What is the new thinking in your market?
Have you read the latest industry publications recently?
Strategy – evaluate your goals.
If you’re working to an existing strategy, evaluate what you’ve previously done that’s made significant inroads. If you’re developing a new strategy, then this checklist will give you a strong foundation of insight to combine with the goals and objectives for the business as a whole. Think about what you’d really like to achieve and what legacy you’d like to leave.
What is your vision (long term)?
What is your aspiration (medium term)?
What do you need to deliver (short term)?
Creative – brainstorm with all the brains in the business.
A lack of creativity and innovation is the easiest way for your marketing and PR campaigns to become stale. Use your team and your agencies to brainstorm. Get people together and utilise combined brain power to come up with new ideas.
A B2B thought-leadership PR campaign needs to reflect all the thinking in the business. You will have people who are out on the road. Those in customer service. Those in implementation. Design. Consulting…
Their knowledge is immense. Involve them in the process. It’s an engagement exercise and is a great way to get them to buy into the marketing and PR programme. Especially when they start to get by-lined articles in industry-leading publications. Asked to speak at conferences. Being a judge for industry awards.
What knowledge is contained in your business that you’re not tapping into?
What creative themes could emerge by engaging people in developing your programme?
Launch – measure your B2B PR campaign.
Now you’ll know exactly what you want to achieve and that makes measurement of the success of your B2B PR campaign much clearer. After 20 years of running PR campaigns for hundreds of businesses, the more that your PR agency is involved in the process above, the more aligned your PR programme will be.
In fact, get your PR agency to lead this review process, they’ll then have intimate knowledge of your business. And that knowledge is what will power your B2B PR campaign to reach new heights.
To find out more about how to put these plans into action, get in touch with us today.
Tel: 01225 863846