Creating trustworthy reference and extending dialogue and industry engagement
Building credibility is key to sourcing new customers, driving your sales pipeline at the top of the sales funnel and establishing the customer journey to sales completion and retention. It can be as simple as having a registered company with company details published or clearly displaying contacts and your company profile on social media platforms and industry marketplaces.
To further build your brand profile and product awareness consider building the following activities into your marcomms strategy:
Establishing a presence in specific sector trade media demonstrates your involvement in the industry and commitment to your business’ vision and mission. By communicating your value proposition through announcements about business developments, customer acquisition, product development and customer success - and sharing insights into sector behaviours, you position your business as an expert, a reliable source of information, and as a mover and shaker - demonstrating your investment not just in your business but the wider sector.
This is a longer term strategy, one that allows you to plan what you will communicate and share what is relevant to journalists and for their readers. You may need to start with third party sponsorship like advertising or advertorial before chasing editorial.
Top Tier Press
Not just your key verticals, but also wider media that includes leading business and management titles, or national and international publications and broadcast - consider the likes of Forbes, Financial Times, Bloomberg, Press Association, and national news outlets. This requires legwork and proof points, whether that’s case studies, demonstration of large-scale financial investment (VC fundraising) or substantial industry data depicting trends and activities in the wider market.
This can help you find funding, recruit new talent, build partnerships, and find customers, as well as enter new markets or verticals. You’re beginning to reach beyond your network to a new audience to capture more top funnel leads while building brand and product awareness.
Accolades show you are recognised by your industry counterparts. They demonstrate your investment in your products, services and delivery, and the success you have achieved. Yes - it is very much a PR tactic and you don’t have to be award winners to be a successful business, but awards go a long way in securing trust and credibility as they are third-party endorsements that can be used for several years into the future.
Applying for rewards requires deep understanding of the criteria, providing proof points tailored to your chosen category. Proof points can be customer testimonials, business investment or product development, case studies or sales results. Applications need to be crafted to appeal to a cross-section of judges where every word drives the message home.
Friends or foes, allies or enemies - keep them all close. They can help you reach their own network, share and collaborate on ideas and industry activities and discussion. Partners become your ambassadors, adding credibility to both parties and communicate a consultative approach.
Partnerships offer more than sales referrals, especially in today’s digital world. You can both share a platform with a shared idea reaching more people and reducing cost. Joint ventures can include webinars, email campaigns, content such as whitepapers or insight reports, social media engagement or hosting ‘real-life’ events.
Check our article 5 things to do in Partnerships now
Case studies and Testimonials
The biggest proof point of all, backing up your value framework and proposition. No evidence of success and your prospects will hesitate. You need to make sure that your case studies speak to the prospect. As a marcomms agency, if we speak to someone about PR we cannot put a digital marketing campaign success in front of them; it’s irrelevant. Context is everything.
Also consider the story from the customer perspective: what do they want to achieve for their business or themselves? How does your involvement facilitate that success? You’re not the be-all-and-end-all, you’re part of their journey. They could have been able to achieve success another way, so be open minded. Put yourself in the wider ecosystem and appreciate the role you play. If you don’t have performance metrics, make sure you build fantastic relations with customers who will be willing to give you testimonials, or speak to prospects about the fantastic work you do.
Read more in our article Don't waste your case studies - 12+ uses for customer success stories
Ambassadors and Influencers
Whether this is a customer, a partner, a journalist or industry consultant, think about how you can build a programme to keep them abreast of business developments. Involve them in roundtable discussions and product and business development, making them a valued stakeholder in your business. They are more likely to have conversations where they can naturally mention you in conversation without it seeming like a sales pitch.
Consider how to use ambassadors at industry events: pitch them for presentations or panel discussions. Often programme organisers do not want vendors to speak, or if they do, they want payment. However your ambassadors may be the perfect profile for their programme.
Take your PR to the next level, enter the blue ocean waters and lead debate, discussion and industry evolution. Put yourself out there by using your senior experts and C-suite to position the company as a challenger brand, as a disruptor or innovator, or make a point that you are the industry-leader.
Be clear with your proposition and build a narrative for the wider audience to connect and engage with.
Build a Community
Communities are often overlooked but are the most powerful in terms of referrals and word of mouth while positioning you as the ’go-to’ company. Communities have been around for decades, digitally they started with forums in the early noughties, now they exist either on social media, and with industry organisations and associations.
Your network is your community. Consider how you build communication frameworks to constantly engage your audience and allow them to contribute to and lead discussion. This requires constant work and involvement.
Follow these steps and boost your credibility and trustworthiness, build it into your strategy and ensure you remain consistent - because this means being in it for the long haul.