If you're like most people, you've spent the last few weeks strategizing for 2016. And likely on your list of wants for the new year, you've jotted down "get more B2B sales leads," or some version of that wish.
In a perfect world, all of your clients would stay with you forever, as well as promote the heck out of your company to others. However, we all know that doesn't always happen, and that if you want to stay in business, you can't remain static. You must go in search of more leads. The question is: How?
The New Way to Get B2B Sales Leads with B2B PR
If you're accustomed to traditional PR and marketing techniques... pounding the pavement with business cards, attending launch parties and meet and greets, or landing media coverage, you might question the validity of anything that claims to take the place of these tactics. And, in fact, there are many occasions where traditional B2B PR methods such as these are essential.
They are just not enough if you want to get leads.
Indeed, inbound marketing has quickly become the key component to any B2B PR success story.
"67% of surveyed B2B companies rated Inbound Marketing as a top three or a very high priority component of their overall marketing strategy for 2015." ~ Kapost
A Brief Overview of Inbound Marketing - The Story of Sarah and Nosy Design
Inbound marketing is about creating content that people love. A colleague of mine (we'll call her Sarah) recently received a very direct email from a stranger (we'll call her Nosy Design) asking if she could revamp their entire website. Now, Nosy Design may be very good at what she does, but Sarah has no proof of this. This is cold call marketing.
The inbound approach is much different. What if Nosy Design had first released multiple how-to videos on YouTube, created a blog series on a concept that was of interest to Sarah, and hosted instructional webinars that provided real value? What if Nosy Design was always sharing super helpful content on Twitter or LinkedIn?
In this case, if Sarah were in search of someone to redesign her website, she'd likely come across Nosy Design in her online search. In fact:
"B2B customers conduct 12 searches on average before checking a specific brand's website." ~ Kapost
Clearly, being easily found by search engines is a strategic PR move.
Now, after Sarah watches a few videos, she decides to visit Nosy Design's website. The firm seems to know its stuff. So she browses around until a pop-up window appears asking if she'd like to download a free ebook.
Sarah learns a lot from Nosy Design's ebook, and begins to understand that she needs help redesigning her website. Lucky for her, Nosy Designs sends a follow-up email just a couple of days later. The email highlights a few of the company's services, and offers a free consultation. Sarah can even book the call by clicking a link right within the email.
Sarah has her call with Nosy Designs and decides the company is a great fit! She signs on the dotted line, and in the meantime brags to her friends and colleagues about her "great find."
What you've just mentally witnessed are the fundamentals of inbound marketing. Hubspot lays it out quite nicely in the following graphic:
Can you clearly identify the difference between cold call marketing and inbound marketing, and how it impacts your lead gen?
5 Steps to Get More B2B Sales Leads with Inbound
1. Start with Great Content
Typically, this means blog posts. Think of your blog posts like kindling. They nurture the tiny sparks along, providing value along the way, and are necessary for creating a hot burning fire.
Blog posts show that you have knowledge about your industry. They can also be used as the basis for SlideShares, videos, and infographics.
“Content Marketing is a commitment, not a campaign.” ~ Jon Buscall, CEO, Moondog Marketing
2. Understand SEO
Make sure you understand the basic principles of SEO (search engine optimization). Merely jotting down a few of your thoughts in a blog post will not drive traffic to your site.
Rather, your content, in fact, every web page on your site, should be optimized for search engines.
3. Promote Your Content
Again, just owning the content and hoping people will stumble upon it will not give you the return that you're looking for.
Content needs to promoted on social media channels, not just once, but several times throughout the month. This is essentially doing your own PR. And the best part is that this is essentially free. It only costs you in time.
Don't forget to learn about why hashtags are important and how to use them.
4. Create Gated Content
Gated content is free information that your prospects receive after filling out a brief form. Types of gated content include ebooks, videos, SlideShares, and white papers. The information gathered on the form should help you to determine how to segment that contact and where they are in the sales funnel.
This is how a visitor becomes a lead.
5. Nurture Your Leads
Once the visitor has become a lead, you need to nurture that relationship. There are several CRM programs that will even help you automate this process. You want the person to keep you in mind, but not be annoyed by your presence.
Design a workflow that is essentially a breadcrumb trail to your goal. Do you want the lead to sign up for a monthly subscription? Do you want someone to buy your software? Leave a trail of valuable information that leads your prospect to your final goal.
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Learn All You Can About B2B PR
As PR and marketing changes, you need to roll with the punches. To that end, I've created a SlideShare, The Bottom Line About PR, that ensures your PR will be working for you. Plus, you'll learn more about what fuels the most successful PR campaigns, and how to avoid common PR pitfalls.