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Friday, 31 December 2010

B2B PR Basics to Boost Business

B2B PR advice - clarity and brevity

We see a lot of easy-to-fix issues that prevent B2B businesses reaching their full potential.

1) Clarity and Brevity.

Most B2B business' websites are their main marketing communications tool. Since most major purchases involve a Google search, a high profile site can bring in a lot of new business enquiries, provided it delivers the information that people need and it's easy to contact you from any page. So before wasting time and money on improving your Google rankings, and turning people off when they land on your page,  look at the site iteslf. When people land on your site, can they quickly work out whether you can do them some good?

Most under-performing websites fail to deliver key information for site visitors. Site visitors skim and browse - they don't read. They are looking for the basics first.

  1. Does your site immediately describe what you do and the benefits you bring in c30 words or less? Or do you waste the precious few seconds people spend on a site by making them wait for a flash graphic to download? Even with a skip the intro option, they''ll skip all right - on to to your competitors lurking in their search results list. 
  2. 30 words is around a 15 second- sound-bite, so that's a good nugget of information to aim for the website home page - makes it easy to grasp 
  3. It's also handy for dropping into networking conversations when you are asked what you offer.
  4. It is also about right for a radio interview sound-byte.
  5. But mainly, it's an easy nugget to pass on to others.
  6. If you can do it in even less, that's brilliant, as our earlier post on Bill Joos' workshop explains.

PHPR's is:
Online and off-line PR to attract customers and opportunities to B2B businesses

Short memorable descriptions are much easier to pass on to others, so you maximise your chances of referrals if you get the description right. It's very easy to write 1,000 words, but it takes effort to effectively nail a business in a few words.

You don't have to cover all the bases in one and it's usually meaningless if you try. A company like IBM can sell "solutions" because they are well known and they have a raft of publicity material to underpin such a generalised claim. "Solutions" means anything from saline for contact lenses onwards, so it's not very enlightening. If you don't have an IBM sales and marketing budget to explain generalised claims, why communicate vague, confusing claims? Have you ever recommended someone for their solutions without having a lot of explaining to do? No? Neither have I.

2) Sloppiness

Even if site visitors find enough to keep them going through your site, most people will be put off by poor grammar and spelling. Or odd characters introduced when text is pasted from some word processors into a HTML editor. This is a nuisance as many HTML editors don't offer a grammar check, so the temptation is to cut 'n' paste into the word processor, then back into the HTML editor. I run the checks then paste into a plain notepad (I use the scratchpad in Google's desktop sidebar) before pasting into the website.

Even if you do spell and grammar check your web copy, you still need to proof read the copy for sense as these tools are not infallible. Even then, there's still room for errors but developing a checking habit catches most of them.

3. Claiming Your Digital Territory.

Forget "social" media: these communications tools are serious opportunities to engage with existing and potential customers in real time. How else can you communicate with your rivals' customers in real-time without trailing to conferences, trade shows and networking events?

Make sure that you set up pages on the main social media in your company's name to prevent anyone else using your name on these channels. There's no option to have or .com etc - just the name, so bag yours if you can, even if you don't intend to post more than a link back to your website and a short clear message about the business.

4. Get the Linked-In Habit

You need to know what channels customers and potential customers are using to be able to dip into the debates online. The tools change quickly and the stars of yesterday can be quickly forgotten as better channels gain popularity. However, one channel has stayed steady when it comes to B2B communications and that is Linked-In.

But almost every business person I have met this year has been surprised when I mention that they can join up to 50 groups on Linked-In. Regardless of whether you are a free user or a premium member, no-one can join more. The groups and their forums are the key to expanding a network of contacts. It is easy to get up to 6 million or more connections, all chunked down in a sector-specific and geographically focused way. That should be enough for most people!

Many business owners I've spoken to hadn't done more than put up a brief profile (often without a picture, so no-one can easily tell whether you are the Joe Bloggs they know or not). Plus linking with a few colleagues. Then they say Linked-In doesn't work. ...
If you put in as little effort at networking events (Hello, I'm here but I won't show you my face or speak to you, but I'll tell you very little about me) you would soon be Billy no-mates! So why is it any different online - it's all about people relationships on and off-line.

Time spent on the right forums will soon build your profile and throw up opportunities to chat directly. Once you get to know someone, the online tools accelerate the bit in-between face-to-face communications, and keep you front-of-mind in return for a few minutes effort on a regular basis.

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK

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