Note: This is Part 1 of a 2-Part Series on targeting communications.
Every successful business starts with a plan that details where the company expects to be in three to five years in terms of revenue, and broadly touches on how it will get there. The responsibility of building awareness and credibility that leads to sales needed to reach those goals is a marketing and communications role.
How specifically can marketing and communications help support your company's sales efforts?
There are three basic ingredients to any communications program:
third-party credibility (confirmation of your company's claims and qualifications through press coverage, customer/partner endorsements, and other outside support).
Any successful communications program is strategically aligned with your business goals. This ensures that the right messages are getting in front of the right audiences.
Communication programs are not only focused on market influencers like the press and analyst communities. You must also tailor your messages to key customer and partner targets as well. You need both a broad and narrow messaging approach to properly target these audiences, through a delicate intersection of public relations and marketing activities. Two different types of audiences mean two different types of messages.
In the first part of this two-part series on growing your business development pipeline, we will discuss how to get in front of your key targets with information that is geared specifically to them. It's important to divide the job of communications along the two types of audiences described above. Consider these audiences "macro-targets" and "micro-targets."
Macro-targeting is the traditional approach to business communications, and the one with which most people are familiar. Macro-targets are media, analysts and other broadly-based market influencers who can validate your business model. This approach enables you to generate a high level of awareness for your company within all your target audiences. It also helps you to gain third-party credibility through coverage of your messages in the media and analyst communities.
Establishing a positive reputation in the market is the first step to generating sales leads. Remember, the goal with macro-targeting is to build confidence in your company, making it easier to get in the door with sales prospects, partners, etc. The fact of the matter is, people do business with people they know and trust.
Keep in mind that messages targeted toward the media and analyst communities may be too broad for the specific people, companies and organizations that form your business development target base. When you get to the point of looking for an introduction to a specific business entity, that's when you need to add micro-targeting to your corporate messaging and positioning and focus on targeting the specific needs of that audience.
As mentioned above, Micro-targeting is the strategy you take when you want to focus on specific people, companies and organizations that can more immediately affect revenue enhancement and your overall success. This is a more sophisticated level of business communication enabling your company to go beyond your high-level messages and provide information of importance to a very focused target audience -- essentially opening the door to facilitate business meetings. The secret is developing messages that show specific synergies between your company and the target audience in question.
All businesses thrive on capital, customers and partners. They drive revenue. Micro-targeted messages answer the question "why?": Why invest in us? Why buy from us? Why work together with us? That means taking the macro-level messaging you may use for public relations purposes and concentrate it to make the most sense to the narrow segment of prospects that will help you drive revenues for your company.
Macro-targeting is most successful as an exercise you conduct with your public relations counsel. If you work with an agency to help generate media placements, they have already helped you with your macro-targeting. Your agency may also have access to people in the local, regional or national business community that can help you meet your capital, customer and partnership goals. Getting to the meeting stage with those people requires close cooperation with your agency in getting the micro-targeted messaging right, and creating enough awareness in the media to reinforce that very specific message.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you have to use macro-targeted and micro-targeted communications together. Reaching the media with macro-level messages gives you general credibility, and delivering your PR results to your sales prospects on an ongoing basis gives weight to your micro-targeted messages.
In Part Two of this series, we'll look at what you need to do to prepare for the best possible outcome once you've set a meeting using micro-targeted messages.
Marc Hausman is president and CEO of Strategic Communications Group, Inc. (Strategic), a public relations agency that enables its clients to increase revenue through comprehensive communications programs, and access to the Strategic Network of Relationships & trade; Strategic has authored two White Papers: "Public Relations: What It Is, What It Isn't and How it Works," and "The Network of Relationships: Studies in Success for Growth-Oriented Businesses." To obtain a copy of the White Papers, contact Marc at firstname.lastname@example.org.