The following is the second in a series of blog posts where James Chalmers sits down with various members of the CMA B2B Marketing Council. The series will discuss all things B2B Marketing and is aimed to educate and inspire you to become a stronger B2B Marketer. Thoughts on this article or suggestions for topics you would like to see covered? Let us know! Just tuning in now… here is the first installment. https://goo.gl/zVR3p9
This week I have the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Janine Allen, Senior Vice President, General Manager and Partner at Kaiser Lachance Communications. With a focus on Business to Business (B2B) communications, what stands out for me is that they are a communications firm “with an unwavering focus on measurable, impactful results.” If you know me or you have read articles from TACK10 in the past, you know how much priority we put on having measurable impact. Without further delay, Janine, thank you so much for taking the time to talk B2B PR with us. So often when one thinks of PR they think of brands or properties talking directly to their customers.
How is B2B PR different from B2C PR, and why should brands care?
Janine: There are a lot of core similarities in the public relation function whether you’re talking directly to a consumer, or to the providers of goods or services to consumers. For instance, you must have a compelling story, understand the media and influencer landscape, know your audience and know the right channels to reach your core audience. However, B2B communications, in particular, requires a specialist approach to reach decision-makers with the right message, at the right time, through the right medium in order to influence brand awareness and consideration.
James: That certainly makes sense. I know you do not prescribe to having a templated set of services to hit “play” on when engaging with partners. With that said you have a team of incredibly experienced professionals on your teams.
Based on that vast experience, are there some basic principals you have developed with your team?
Janine: Absolutely. Our consultants who work in this area are trained to think like the client’s customers and/or investors. We constantly ask ourselves what is going to move the needle on sales and create more shareholder value. We have to understand the customer they’re selling to in order to create the strategy. As such, consultants spend a lot of time with not just the executive, marketing and sales teams, but depending on the industry, we also meet with product, portfolio managers, CTOs, CIOs and implementation teams, in addition to the other marketing agencies on the file to understand the most influential sales drivers and any friction points. From this we gain an outsider’s perspective on what is truly interesting about the product or service and that informs how we tell that story to the company’s most important stakeholders.
Earned placement in traditional media can play an important role in creating demand and pull with the end consumer, but we often shrug off the inclination to go after mass reach through these outlets, in favour of more strategic placement of stories. We develop strong relationships with industry vertical media and influencers to maximize the impact of our clients’ message with potential decision-makers.
As a business working with Kaiser Lachance, how should I anticipate a program being built out?
Janine: There are five principal pillars to building out any B2B PR program:
- Audience: Understand that it’s both your customers and your customers’ customers and ensure the strategy works for both.
- Messaging: Marketing and public relations messaging should be aligned, but not necessarily the same. Both need to break through the clutter to make an impact, but while the audience for advertising is typically target customers, the audience for PR activities can be customers, media, influencers or other stakeholders.
- Platform: The beginning of any successful thought leadership campaign relies on two things: content and spokesperson. Like B2C strategies, a strong B2B PR program needs interesting and meaningful content, and a strong spokesperson to communicate that content.
- Distribution: Traditional media and social networks are core to most PR programs, but B2B PR relies more heavily on other message distribution tactics, such as industry media, expert influencer outreach, speaking opportunities, and customer advocacy programs.
- Measurement: More than just media impressions, for B2B clients, PR must determine the metrics most important to their business, including website visits, social engagement, attendance at events, investor activity and lead generation.
The Final Bell
This has been some great insight into the unique attributes for success with B2B PR. It is interesting to see how much overlap there is, but I think you have reminded us all that there are some unique differences that if executed properly can be ones point of differentiation. Thank you Janine.
James Chalmers is Group President and CEO at TACK10 Strategy, a premier consultancy focused on delivering results against corporate objectives through integrated partnerships.