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There are lots of very good reasons to do PR that don’t have a direct impact on revenue. It can be extremely useful for attracting employees, exciting investors, and boosting morale. Despite these other benefits, however, most businesses invest in PR because they believe it can have a positive impact on the top line. If you find that your PR efforts are competing for resources with other types of advertising and marketing, it is helpful to understand how PR uniquely impacts each stage of the buyer’s journey.
The awareness stage begins when a customer is experiencing symptoms of a problem or senses that there may be an untapped opportunity. At this stage, they aren’t necessarily seeking information directly from vendors, but they are looking for a way to frame their problem and give it a name. The best way to do this is to read about others who have faced similar challenges. Smart brands use PR to get their customer’s “before” stories out there. They monitor social media and industry specific chat channels for people asking relevant questions, and they create enough problem oriented content to get the prospect engaged.
During the consideration phase, the prospect is digging deeply into the available solutions. At this time, they seek specific information about solution providers and start to learn about the investment and resources it will take to move their project along. Marketing materials and data sheets are certainly useful when the buyer is at this stage, but earned media mentions and social proof also go a long way toward convincing the buyer that they should look closely at your brand. Careful reputation management is essential to ensuring that you don’t get eliminated at this point in the game because of negative online reviews or poor ratings.
Once it comes time for the decision, the buyer has chosen the approach they will take to solve their problem or capture their opportunity. They have compiled a list of acceptable vendors and are looking to justify their first choice. Advertising and owned marketing content are suspect at this point, as buyers really seek third party validation. Analyst reports, in-depth case studies, and live references are all PR assets that can move the needle in your favor.
A lot of people don’t think about retention when it comes to the buyer’s journey, but we think it is important. Competition is fierce and customers can leave you at any time. On the flip side, they can become loyal advocates and buy more. A steady stream of positive PR helps reinforce that they made the right decision. You’ll always need new references, referrals, case studies, and customers who will speak to journalists. Seeing how you promote your clients may inspire them to participate as well.
Investing in PR is an effective way to grow sales and accelerate the buying process. A great strategy involves covering every stage. It also requires deploying the right measuring and monitoring tools to see how well your efforts are paying off. Once you have visibility into how PR is impacting revenue, proving the ROI is a piece of cake.