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Leveraging Public Relations and Influencer Marketing Outlets
To close out our series on marketing to the “top of the sales funnel”—that is, generating awareness among prospective customers who may never have heard of you, by demonstrating your expertise and securing their interest—we’ll take a look at a couple of excellent ways to raise your profile among your target audiences: public relations and social influencers
The critical element of marketing to the top of the sales funnel is your content—blogs, articles, helpful comments on social media, e-newsletters, and the like. While you can do a lot yourself using social media as a way to broadcast your thought leadership to key targets, why not let other folks do the same on your behalf?
Let’s take a look at two marketing channels, PR and social influencers, to see what you can do here.
Speaking Through Others
PR is an old marketing channel, but these days it’s driven by online content, which makes all the difference to you. Unlike the old days when you had to beg publishers to print (yes, print) your contribution, today’s digital publishers are hungry for content — any and everything they can publish to draw online eyeballs. Your chances of having your content published by industry-specific outlets are greater than it’s ever been.
What media outlets should you target? Those publications focused on inkjet printing might be helpful, since you can then share your published news or blog with the wider printing world. But also target publications focused on your key industries, such as finance, health care, retail, and agencies.
These media are eager for guest blogs that can address how (for example) variable inkjet printing can maximize customer outreach, the impact of direct marketing tips, trends in personalized communications trends, and the creative use of color, paper, shape, and design. Don’t promote yourself; speak only to concerns and interests of your target audience.
You’ll also want a steady stream of news, like new hires and customers, advanced new technology, inks, and paper (and don’t forget to archive everything on your website’s “news” page). After that, get together with your team to come up with ideas most appealing to, say, the American Banker Magazine or ABA Banking Journal for finance; Insightscare and Modern Healthcare for the health industry; Advertising Age for the agency world, and so forth. Make sure your news releases and content directly address the needs and pain points of these industry readers. Pitch your ideas to the editors, and once your content is published, share it on your own website, as well as social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
The Kindness of Strangers
Publishers come in all shapes and sizes, and among the most valuable these days are social influencers. These guys and gals are interested in your industry, and happy to spread your own thoughts and news.
Story ideas pitched to key social influencers can improve reach, but more importantly improve advocacy. Trade shows are a great place to start, because industry social influencers are coming to these events along with you and your customers.
When courting social influencers at trade shows, it may be wise to hold a side event that includes them as VIP guests. People love to eat and be at exclusive gatherings. And the blogger who tweets or posts about it on social networks enhances the value of the side event and the relationship with you and your company. Here, your prospects can rub shoulders with an online celebrity and the influencer can gain additional exposure, which he’ll appreciate.
There are plenty of great online influencers on the thINK Forum Blog, of course. In addition, consider social influencers in your target industry areas, and host them, court them, and invite them to your next customer appreciation event. Even consider providing them with bennies, like tours of your shop, demos of the latest equipment, interviews with top clients, and free trips to your next conference or trade show event — provided they speak on your behalf, of course!
In return, they’ll be more inclined to have you as a podcast guest, distribute and comment on your blogs and articles, and even show up at your after-hours party to keep the buzz going. All is good to attract attention at the top of the sales funnel.
Christopher Hosford is editor at large for Target Marketing. Former editor-in-chief of Nielsen’s Sales & Marketing Management magazine, he’s covered all aspects of sales, marketing, and cutting-edge marketing technologies.