Executives in B2B and manufacturing markets are looking to slash costs to cope with the slumping economy. Having cost-effective PR and marketing campaigns is a significant part of the solution.
Understanding how to handle an economic slump is perhaps the most difficult responsibility for any business executive. Does one eliminate overtime, sell off unused space or equipment, or lay off workers? No one wants to cut jobs or shrink their operations, but during trying times, it can seem like there are very few options.
While cutting truly non-essential operations and leaning up processes are certainly important steps, it is vital to find ways of generating new business to ensure future profits and keep operations growing.
Survival of the Smartest
Budgets are tight—but at the same time, there must be some method of generating new leads. Companies that are completely doing away with any form of marketing are becoming invisible and shrinking, while others that distribute their marketing dollars shrewdly with the right form of marketing continue to get in front of qualified prospects and grow.
These executives understand that in order to expand during good times or bad, it's important to be in the media spotlight. Expansion cannot occur without making an impact on new business—word of mouth and cold calls can only go so far. The new mantra for manufacturers today is: public exposure equals survival.
The Right Medium
With all of the options available, it can be difficult to find the right medium. Top choices include television, radio, magazines, newspapers, trade shows, and the Internet. Each provide distinct advantages. But for B2B organizations, which have specialized audiences and a more limited choice of media, the best options are trade publications (both in print and online).
Given this, how does one best utilize trade publication opportunities? Augmenting a print advertising program with PR allows a company to expand on its attributes…and its business. Articles placed within trade publications provide an increased level of credibility. When targeted properly, they yield great results reaching tens of thousands of prospects at once.
In addition to the credible exposure being featured in print publications bring, corporations can use article reprints as sales tools and as direct mail pieces to reduce production costs of additional marketing materials. These reprints are often more effective than traditional marketing brochures, because what others say about a company carries more weight with prospects than what a company says about itself.
"We can also send this information out to our independent manufacturer's representatives," Pendleton says. "It helps them better understand what we do as a company and makes it far easier for them to sell our products."
Another cost-effective method of employing trade media to enhance direct marketing campaigns is to rent targeted e-mail lists from credible trade publications. Not only does this save costs on purchasing generalized e-mail lists that are often out-of-date and too broad, it also eliminates the time-consuming task of managing opt-out lists and bouncebacks.
To take advantage of the volume of opportunity available to B2B organizations, it is imperative to find all publications that reach core markets, as well as niche markets. Often manufacturers are familiar with only the top three to five publications in their core markets but are unaware of the greater number of publications that reach their target markets.
Typically there are no less than 30 to 50 publications that corporations can be covered in, and often there are hundreds, depending on the number of vertical markets served.
Many B2B companies have turned to the Internet as a cost effective—and in today's market, necessary—approach to increasing market exposure. But with the wide range of online marketing strategies such as online publications, ad words, SEO articles, corporate blogs, and social networking sites, it can sometimes be bewildering for manufacturers to determine the most effective opportunities.
Nevertheless, several of these methods can be eliminated simply by examining the facts. Research has shown less than 20 percent of B2B Internet users click on the ads when performing a search and 85 percent of B2B buyers click on the "organic" results, as they are considered more credible. There has also been a lot of buzz recently about marketing opportunities with YouTube and social networking sites such as Facebook, but these sites are specifically geared towards the general public and will not necessarily enhance credibility, or even visibility, when targeting B2B public.
Although there will always be new opportunities to examine in the Internet world, currently the two most effective, and proven, methods for B2B organizations to use the Internet is via credible placement on trade publication websites and SEO (search engine optimization) article placement to increase page ranking for organic searches.
Hiring an expert to assist in trade publication PR efforts and SEO article programs carries many advantages a company would not normally have. These experts know exactly how to work with editors and news distribution sites in order to get an article published—treading the delicate balance between useful and promotional information.
Only companies that remain in the media spotlight, in such a way that they retain third-party credibility, will survive in today's economic climate. Cost-cutting and leaning measures are all necessary, but a service that provides credible PR for a manufacturer will go a long way to providing a healthy balance between maintaining the bottom line and generating that all-important new business.
Lisa Zocco is the president of Profusion PR.