CMOs and marketing managers at B2B technology companies often ask us why to invest in Public Relations when you can just create blog content and share it on social media.
After answering this question multiple times over the past few years, we have learnt to deliver convincing arguments that get marketing people nodding their heads as a seal of approval.
To make our (and your) life easier, here we are explain our six standard arguments why B2B tech companies must do global PR to succeed.
Gain Larger Audience
Blogs distributed through social media are a great way to share small and less significant content, but because of how social networks work, those posts are usually contained within a relatively familiar circle of your company’s followers and potentially their followers. Sponsoring naturally helps to break out beyond the usual crowd.
When your content gets published by international and regional B2B medias you will immediately access a much larger audience within your target industry worlwide.
Strengthen Your Credibility and Thought Leadership Image
According to a research by LinkedIn, Thought Leadership position boosts B2B sales. If you publish content only on your own channels such as the company blog, social media profiles, or another forum your company owns, it is easily considered as self-promotion.
Earned media coverage on the contrary strengthens your credibility as a vendor and an industry Thought Leader.
Increase Traffic to Your Website
If the media content, be it a press release, op-ed, industry statement or thought leadership article, opinionated article or a case study, is done in a smart way you will have a possibility to sneak in direct links to your website. (One way is to package and link up additional, deeper industry content on your website to provide readers added value.) That in turn will bring your website more valuable visitors from the target audience.
Grow Search Ranking, Capture More Organic Traffic
Media coverage has a great potential to boost your company’s search ranking, more precisely the Referring Domains metric, which is one of the most important search metrics as it acts as a trust signal for search engines like Google. A domain referring to your domain (through a backlink) tells search engines that your site is trusted and provides valuable information.
The number of backlinks is not the only thing that counts. The quality, or the Domain Ranking of the domains referring through backlinks matter too. If global media outlets, which typically have a high Domain Rank, provide you a backlink, it gives their backlinks a very high value. That in turn reflects your search ranking in a positive way; search engines start to place your links at the top of the search results!
Earn Media Quotes and Interviews
When your company is known to media and enjoys a trusted industry Thought Leadership image, you will gradually begin to earn quotes on journalists’ articles and interviews by editors. This is referred to as reactive PR and it is a highly impactful tool for companies aiming at the top of the industry food-chain.
Engage with Analysts
Gaining analyst attention for B2B high tech companies is a deal breaker. Once your company becomes a frequent headline item in the industry, it helps you to engage with technology analysts, which typically publish analyses, ratings and comparisons of key players in the industry. Attention from B2B tech buyers, decision makers and C-suite is guaranteed for your company!
Whereas almost anyone can do blogging, PR requires specialist skills, time, resources and investments. But, so are the advantages of PR much greater! It is a highly impactful marketing tool for B2B tech companies, and the only way to become the ultimate industry Thought Leader. Unlike paid media campaigns, which only deliver what was paid for, engaging earned media can scale up without limits.
Grip Agency is a team of tech marketing and PR specialists. We create high-quality, search optimized industry content and generate global media publicity for several international B2B hi-tech companies as a continuous, outsourced process. Click here and get a better Grip on the market!
The transformation of B2B buying has made Thought Leadership marketing one of the most critical B2B marketing categories today, especially in technology businesses. According to a research by LinkedIn, companies with a strong Thought Leadership position get more RFP invitations, gain buyer preference and simply, sell more. But, what makes a tech company an industry Thought Leader? How to test if your company is?
B2B business has changed from a vendor driven push-process into a pull-process orchestrated by buyers, who today are technology-savvy professionals able to collect and compare information about competing technologies and offerings. Vendors are contacted later after preliminary shortlisting.
This buyer-dominated business process makes a credible and visible Thought Leadership position a question of existence for tech companies. Only vendors with a strong Thought Leadership image will stay on the radar of B2B buyers whenever they activate their buying processes.
The complexity of the B2B decision-making process, the length of time it takes for decisions to be made and the number of people involved makes Thought Leadership marketing an important sales tool of B2B companies. It can help the people involved in the business decision to gain alignment among their peers, which isn’t a walk in a park in any corporate-like organization.
Thought Leadership is a type of content marketing where a company taps into the competence, experience and knowledge inside their business to consistently address the biggest questions and challenges on the minds of their target audiences on topics considered relevant in the whole industry.
Defining an Industry Thought Leader
Thought Leadership is an ambiguous and abstract concept; several slightly varying definitions exist which are all probably equally correct. The Thought Leading companies and individuals in B2B technology markets share some common qualities, which separate them from the crowd.
The content created by Thought Leader companies is recognized by others as innovative, topical and insightful. It provides a depth of knowledge that most companies do not share in public.
Thought Leadership content addresses customers’ challenges and defines the best ways to meet them. Many companies talk about their products and how they are better, but that’s where they go wrong. That is called self-promotion, not Thought Leadership and it turns off the audience. The media will not publish or cite such content.
Companies that are perceived as Thought Leaders are known to possess deep and broad knowledge about their industry, and they are considered to be ahead of the crowd. When they openly share their views, the media publishes their content and writes about them. That enforces the positive spiral effect by increasing their credibility and making them known to a larger audience.
Thought Leading companies naturally have Thought Leading individuals; experts, leaders and evangelists. People in the industry follow them on social media, news and conferences, because they can’t afford not to.
Industry organizations and conferences are the face of an industry, the establishment. The companies considered Thought Leaders contribute to these organizations, and use them to strengthen their image. When the members of a company are invited to speak at conferences, or are a visible figure in an industry organization, it builds the Thought Leadership position of the entire company.
The ultimate Thought Leading companies are like rock stars of their industries, regardless of on how un-sexy field of practice they might be operating. Their customers do not hesitate to appear as their public references and to give them public credit.
Differentiation in tech business is hard. The best performing companies in an industry can use Thought Leadership simply as a vehicle to set them apart from the crowd, to stay in the minds of potential buyers, making sure they will be included in the shortlist whenever a new buying processes activates!
Does your company rank as a Thought Leader? Test it!
Industry Thought Leadership is an abstract concept and difficult to measure. This simple quiz tests you and your company on the key Thought Leadership areas, namely: content quality, social media engagement, earned media coverage, industry organization contribution, and based on your reputation among customers.
Is your company a Thought Leader? Take the Thought Leadership Test and find out!
Mobile World Congress (MWC) is the premier event in the mobile industry, and the largest and the single most important marketing investment for Sicap Schweiz AG, the global device management and analytics vendor. The sheer size of MWC makes it the biggest marketing opportunity, and at the same time the riskiest marketing investment for vendors such as Sicap. Grip Agency, the B2B marketing and PR specialist, helped Sicap make the MWC in 2018 its best-ever MWC.
To maximize the return on its marketing investment for MWC in 2018, Sicap partnered with Grip Agency, the technology marketing and PR specialist agency. Grip Agency planned and delivered to Sicap a total exhibition campaign (see campaign description and results).
Specifically, the campaign comprised: creation of an event theme narrative, a visual design for the stand, landing page, content and event materials, social media promotion, press release, a promotional animation and a video. The campaign was undertaken in co-operation with VanillaPlus, the world leading telecom media, which contributed with a highly impactful program including hosted thought leadership content, email promotions, a banner and background skin advertisements elements.
The GSMA reported more than 107,000 visitors from 205 countries and territories during the four days in the 2018 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. More than 2,400 companies showcased their offerings across 120,000 square metres of exhibition and hospitality space at the Fira Gran Via conference center.
According to Magnus Moller-Petersen, EVP Sales and Marketing at Sicap, MWC is a massive event and is extremely difficult to become noticed and attract visitors to a booth.
“For Sicap, MWC is the largest and single most important marketing investment of the year and we want the maximum return for the outlay. Grip Agency made the MWC in 2018 the most successful MWC in the history of our company. Grip’s content activations and engagement through social media promotion, emailing and media publicity converted into more than 200 relevant industry contacts and many meetings, encounters and demonstrations during the four-day show,” said Moller-Petersen.
Mikko Nurmimaki, the founder of Grip Agency confirms that the top international B2B industry shows like MWC are tough for vendors. “Only vendors with strong thought leadership images and with sustained outreach to key audiences and frequent publicity on leading telecom media such as VanillaPlus can get the required return for their exhibition investment,” adds Nurmimaki.
Download an info-graphics to get an overview of the MWC 2018 marketing project, including the key performance metrics that Grip Agency delivered to Sicap Schweiz AG.
Learn the ten tips for a CMO about how to maximize returns on exhibition marketing investments on Grip Agency’s Blog.
About Sicap: Sicap is a global telecommunication and IoT solution provider for Mobile Network Operators and Mobile Virtual Network Operators delivering an all-encompassing customer experience to make the mobile world more profitable, manageable and secure. Founded 20 years ago as a Swisscom spin-off, Sicap now delivers solutions to more than 80 mobile service providers in 76 countries. Its international team in ten locations ensures excellent customer service worldwide. Sicap solutions include IoT service enablement, device and SIM management, customer insights and engagement and security solutions. Sicap’s Cloud-based solution combines managed service delivery with a pay-as-you-grow business model to give customers cost-efficient ownership with a quick turnaround. For more: http://www.sicap.com/
About Grip Agency: Grip Agency provides international technology companies distinctive content marketing and global PR. With Grip, its clients gain competitive advantage and a better grip on their markets. Grip Marketing services are offered as an outsourced process with an affordable, fixed monthly fee. Grip Marketing brings together a team of global technology marketing and PR specialists able to rapidly adapt its world-class marketing skills for any hi-tech segment. For more: http://www.gripmarketing.io/
Sure, but how do you become perceived as a Thought Leader?
Thought Leadership Marketing has become one of the most fundamental concepts of marketing and sales in the B2B technology industries. Its popularity has been growing rapidly over the years. The Internet, easier access to information in general and the growth of different types of online marketing techniques transformed B2B buying behavior from a vendor-driven push process into a pull process driven by B2B buyers who are specialists of their industry practices.
The transformation of B2B buying behavior has eventually made Thought Leadership marketing strategy a B2B marketing category of its own.
Today, more and more of the B2B buying process takes place without contacting vendors’ sales representatives. B2B buyers are technology-savvy professionals able to collect and compare information about competing technologies and offerings. Vendors are contacted later after preliminary vetting.
Consequently, it is of the utmost importance for vendors to build a credible Thought Leadership position which is highly visible on social media, key discussion forums, industry media and search engines to stay on the radar of B2B buyers whenever they activate their buying processes.
A research conducted by Edelman PR and LinkedIn with more than 1,300 decision makers and C-suite executives discovered that Thought Leadership plays a critical and defining role in the sales success of B2B companies.
According to the research, a vendor’s Thought Leadership position attracts more RFP invitations and creates preferences with buyers and directly contributes to sales wins. Decision makers value timeliness and relevance of Thought Leadership content over pure originality of idea. Thought Leadership content is most credible when it is forwarded by a trusted party.
Still, the research found that majority of the decision makers and C-suite executives are disappointed in the quality of many vendors’ Thought Leadership content and are counterproductive. It results in lost sales opportunities.
Five Building Blocks for Thought Leadership Marketing
If Thought Leadership positioning alone plays such a material role in a B2B company’s sales success, every company should make it the centerpiece of the firm’s marketing strategy. Here is a list of five building blocks for B2B technology companies to establish a Thought Leadership position.
1. Create Thought Leadership Content with High Quality
As research concluded, bad quality Thought Leadership directly contributes to lost sales opportunities and drops a vendor out of buyers’ shortlists … permanently. Quality of Thought Leadership is subjective, but high quality Thought Leadership should provide answers and insights to the most important topical industry challenges, share best practice solutions and methods, without being a vendor’s product pitch.
High quality Thought Leadership must always be timely and relevant, but the ideas presented don’t necessarily have to be original as the research discovered. Good Thought Leadership provides new paradigms and perspectives and future projections for the industry and market.
2. Deliver it in Many, Small and Logical Units
Decision makers are busier and more overwhelmed by information than ever before. Deliver Thought Leadership content in several small units, which address only one logical topic at a time. That makes your content easier to consume for time-constrained professionals and facilitates targeting on social media and search engines.
Design the topics so that you address all stages of the buying journey, including articles about which technologies to select for various applications, pros and cons of different choices and so on. Delivering material that serves buyers further down the process is important as the first personal touch point with a vendor takes place later.
3. Make it for Humans and Search Engines
Credible specialist content, whether delivered in written, visual, audio or video format, doesn’t have to be boring! The most effective way to ensure that a Thought Leadership message becomes understood and remembered is to formulate it along the classic 5-stage story format, which describes the why, what and how of a topic, and makes it engaging and inspiring.
Badly produced content turns off buyers, and search engines. The Google search algorithms remove so called thin content sites … sites full of keywords and copy without real information from its search results. This and several other algorithm features penalize bad content.
Creating engaging and easy to understand Thought Leader content is crucial as it must sink in into readers’ minds instantly. At the same time, the content must be optimized for the right search keywords because search engines are the battle ground of competing Thought Leadership messages.
4. Use the Real Thought Leaders
While a Thought Leadership position is primarily associated with a company’s brand, people are more inclined to follow people rather than companies. The Thought Leadership position should therefore be built for the company brand and for those management and employee members who are the real thought leaders at the company. But beware … not too many however to get the benefits of focused attention. Additionally, well connected employees are a powerful social media marketing channel for the Thought Leadership message.
5. Thought Leadership Articles on External Media
As the research discovered, the Thought Leadership content is most credible when delivered by someone trusted. When a company only uses its own blog to deliver a message, there is a risk it becomes “self-pitching” and therefore less credible. However, when the message is provided on respected industry medias, it increases its credibility.
Additionally, publishing Thought Leadership articles on external industry medias provides access to a much wider audience, and the benefits of higher SEO ranking through backlinks provided by highly ranked media websites.
As the research by Edelman PR and LinkedIn clearly shows, the Thought Leadership position of a B2B company highly impacts its sales success. When it is done correctly, it has the capacity to boost sales. However, bad Thought Leadership image has the opposite effect; the company will lose business. The right Thought Leadership position becomes an invaluable business asset that B2B technology companies must possess making it a key performance indicator of their corporate strategies.
Get a Better Grip on Thought Leadership Marketing!
Grip Agency helps international tech companies in thought leadership articles, content creation and public relations – Check our proposal!
About the author
Mikko Nurmimaki is a technology marketing entrepreneur and the founder of Grip marketing and PR agency. He has 15 years of global marketing experience from world class technology brands such as Nokia, Ericsson, Spirent Communications and several smaller innovative hi-tech vendors. Mikko has gained solid marketing skills with a broad range of technologies including telecommunications, mobile and IP solutions, cloud and virtualization, value added services, video streaming, Internet of Things and greentech.
Exhibitions are very important marketing, brand exposure and customer engagement tools for B2B businesses. Premium class international exhibitions allow vendors to exhibit their products and services to a highly-targeted audience, engage with customers face to face, provide physical and immersive brand experiences at their stands, launch products and announce news with extremely high industry attention, gain media coverage and so on.
However, attending a high-standard international exhibition can be a massive investment for vendors. Participation and sponsorship fees alone are usually counted in tens of thousands of euros in addition to which comes a range of cost components according to the company’s aspiration level: stand design, demo kits and setups, development of visual elements and stand build-out, content creation and material production, serving and catering, travel and accommodation for a team of several people.
World’s top exhibitions are massive happenings where, for most exhibitors it is extremely difficult to become noticed and attract visitors at their stand. This makes exhibitions particularly risky marketing investments for CMOs.
1. Schedule for Early Start
Scheduling of the exhibition rundown is key. The campaign should be activated early enough that the company’s event theme can be efficiently introduced to the target audience through different channels. In pre-event meeting booking, early bird catches the worm! Often the delegates including C-suite, vice presidents, directors, managers and media are being booked for meetings 1-2 months in advance. So, the pre-event meeting booking should be left sufficient time window.
2. Create a Compelling Event Theme
Most vendors drive their value proposal messaging to the markets 365 days per year, which probably means that the target audience already knows it by heart. Publishing a special, focused theme dedicated for the event helps in catching attention of the audience in advent of the event. A good event theme addresses topical industry challenges, is captured by a simple, yet attention grabbing story and it is driven out to the audience consistently through all channels.
3. Converge the Whole Campaign on a Single Landing Page
A dedicated event landing page is a must. It should deliver the event theme and story in an engaging manner, describe the main topics, products and demos showcased at the stand and end with an invitation and/or clear call to action to pre-book a meeting at the show. When all event related messaging is on one landing page, it is easy to direct all event traffic to the optimal location.
4. Produce Compelling Content and Material
The pre-event engagement campaign is of course supported by a range of compelling content and advertisement items, such as ebooks, presentations, booklets, flyers, web and social media banners and so forth. All the material should be designed along a unified visual identity aligned with the brand guidelines and optimized for online and social media use when applicable.
5. Promote on Social Media
Social media and its different networks and communities are today the main outreach tool in most B2B verticals, even more so during many event run downs. Most event organizers have established social media communities, groups and hashtags, which are a great outreach channel for pre-event engagement.
6. Harness Earned Media
Scheduling a press release, an industry statement or similar media engagement before the event helps to capture the attention of a wider audience and to spread the event theme. Unlike cluttered social media channels, industry media outlets present your message on a more focused and credible channel. The media engagement can be built on top of a contract announcement news, product launch, or an opinionated industry statement, formulated along the lines of the event theme and ended with an announcement of the company’s event attendance.
7. Invest in Top Industry Media Visibility
Collaboration with a popular industry media before and during the event costs quite a lot extra, but provides usually strong and valuable visibility and can enforce company’s thought leadership image, if done the right way. It is important to select the right media; a popular news portal that draws audience within the target segments. The visibility on the media should extend through the duration of the event, when the traffic is higher than during an average day. Banners on a premier spot on the site benefits you also when the competing vendors publish news on the site and drive traffic towards it.
8. Don’t Forget the Email
Email invitation submitted to the company’s contact base is naturally a good way to wake up the existing contacts, partners and customers for a meeting at the event. Sometimes hiring an email marketing specialist agency for booking meetings with new potential customers turns out an effective pre-event engagement method. The call to action on the emails should direct the clicks to the company’s landing page.
9. Make Your Stand a Physical Brand Experience
Stand experience is of course an important, perhaps the single most visible component of an event campaign and certainly one of the most expensive cost items. Visually the stand should repeat the brand’s look and feel, and at best, it becomes an immersive, physical dimension of the brand experience. Engaging demos, presentations, animations and videos should naturally be designed into the visual whole.
However, perhaps the most important component of a great stand experience comes free of charge; a friendly, positive and knowledgeable event team that radiates the company’s brand and acknowledges every stand visitor contributes the most for the best brand experience. And, as said, it only requires some coaching and positive team spirit!
Remember, the event is not over when the show is closed. Thank you emails and social media posts are essential, not to mention personal follow-up with the qualified leads. Images, video footage and interviews provide great raw material to transform the event campaign into a continued thought leadership campaign.
Big international B2B shows are too often treated as stand-alone projects where the sales guys travel to run their standard sales pitches, entertain the clients, and as a bonus, to crack a couple of deals.
If you as a CMO however want to crack the best possible ROI out of your exhibition investments, you should consider them as massive opportunities to bring company’s brand alive, deliver your value propositions face to face, collect valuable feedback and strengthen your industry thought leadership image.
When the exhibition campaign is done the right way, the exhibition itself actually becomes the centerpiece of a much larger campaign, which is woven into the company’s total marketing and brand strategy as a seamless and integral component.
Exhibition Marketing Case Study!
Grip Agency delivered Sicap Schweiz AG, the global telecoms solution vendor its best-ever Mobile World Congress exhibition campaign in 2018. See the info-graphics for an overview and key metrics!
Check out how Grip Agency helps international B2B tech companies in marketing!