When we B2B PR folks sit down to put together the latest version of XYZ product launch, what comes to mind?

  • How many hits we can get? Make sure to get a mix of tech mastheads, bloggers and (hopefully) business/broadcast media.
  • Don’t forget to cross promote on social.
  • What’s the supporting content strategy? Blog series? Contributed articles? Social calendar for the next 30 days?
  • Is there a tradeshow we should incorporate/avoid?
  • Did we remember the channel pubs? What about upcoming awards?

Feels comprehensive, right? Notice anything that’s missing?

There’s actually a fair number of gaps, including:

  • Upfront research. Who is your sales target? Do we know what they interact with best regarding content? What they read? Where they actually engage/participate in social? This data is most times at your fingertips: upfront user behavioral reports in your Google Analytics systems, your CRM, analyzing social audiences of the market and competitors, keyword research, etc. All of these can give you insights into what has (or has not) worked and signals of the market conversations you need to tap into.
  • Media amplification. The Twitter stream washes even the best coverage away quickly. How are we going to get the hard-earned message in our coverage to the front of buyer’s minds? Social advertising is still cost effective, and budgeting for Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook advertising (with images please!) should be part of every launch strategy. The three message rules of marketing still apply, but the monoculture is gone. The good news is we can microtarget via online and social. But you have to do the work and plan ahead to get the messages to rise back up to the audience.
  • Funnel impact. Do we know who in the current client and/or prospect base should see this news directly from you? Do we have any incentives to offer them? This is a time to enhance or advance your relationship with someone who already knows you. Email marketing is still effective! Yet we forget to weave in coverage highlights or social sharing into these mechanisms. We also forget to set up specific campaign and audience goals in Google Analytics. Remember – you can’t go back, you can only track from when you insert a goal into Google Analytics.

Beyond being good data-driven practices, the above gap analysis is vital because the buyer experience with brands (yes even B2B brands) is never going back to days when a great media launch with some social baked into it gets the job done. Google has updated their view on the buyer’s journey recently, focusing on what they are terming “micro-moments.” In essence, the data is showing that mobile has created a world-wide fundamental behavioral shift in how people find, consider and interact with brands. The buyer journey in this world is based on the user’s needs – not the brand’s value proposition. You need to react to that need in a personalized and timely manner to establish and continue your relationship with that audience of one.

For B2B, the journey can be long; sales cycles can stretch for months or quarters. How many opportunities do you have to reinforce or dissuade a buyer along that timeline? Consider:

  • What if your prospect, after months of nurturing, needs a final tech spec hurdle overcome and can’t find the right specs page or white paper to convince their senior team? Are you set up to engage them quickly with customized information?
  • What if customer service is a deal breaker and the prospect is using social to test your capabilities? Is your team responsive and personalized in their approach enough to impress?
  • What if your channel partner gets a rush quote request, and instead of directly managing an existing customer they are sent to your portal. Will they be treated like a prospect with a 101 white paper offer instead of a customized piece of content?

In the B2B world, we are not immune to the mental shift that’s taken place in the public consciousness. We have tools to help us create individualized and customer experiences for our prospects and customers. Given many times we have less volume opportunity than B2C companies, and longer sales cycles, making the most of every interaction is just as important in B2B.

Photo Source: Kan & Company