Business to Business startups face their own unique challenges when transitioning into the public eye. Themes like reliability, legitimacy, and trust become more critical for B2B startups than companies emerging in the Business to Consumer market, where mass user traction is key. This added emphasis on exhibiting a certain level of legitimacy for B2B companies means that PR and brand positioning can often serve as a viable, efficient path to consider. Here are three ways you can begin building a PR strategy that anchors your B2B product:
Nail your messaging and mission statement
Before you start conducting outreach and pitching journalists and bloggers, make company messaging a priority. If you can't explain a product or service within 30 seconds to a friend who has no association with your target industry, then you're not done refining messaging yet.
I prefer to approach messaging by answering "why" questions about the product or service: Why does this product exist? Why should you care? If you can answer for the "why" behind a product or service with a philosophical vision that bolsters the company's brand, you'll be more likely to capture the attention of users and journalists alike.
The media constantly hears about new products and services; they aren't going to be blown away by a simple product pitch. Gaining traction with media is about finding the big picture statement or mission-driven reasoning behind the product. For example, telling a journalist that your company wants to "make medical insurance companies trusted again" is much more compelling than simply saying your company is a "platform for patients to track their medical expenses and compare rates."
Your messaging should provide journalists with enough big picture context that they can visualize the place your company has among current events and news.
Research your target community and get involved
One of the first steps to building a brand where it counts -- in the community or audience where most of your users are -- is to understand the key players in the community and the outlets that your audience reads most regularly.
This can be done through basic research. Begin by conducting keyword searches through various platforms.
My personal approach is to use tools like Right Relevance, which allows you to create your own "channels" (keyword searches) and see the most relevant headlines from media outlets or blogs that pertain to that topic.
I also rely on Twitter to get a sense of which articles are being shared or talked about for certain keywords and as a resource for connecting with industry leaders.
If you use a paid platform for PR outreach such as Muckrack, you can find relevant outlets as well as contact information for the journalists who cover the industry or theme you're most interested in targeting.
Finally, it's important to track new and existing relationships with industry leaders, whether you've simply connected via Twitter or at an in-person function. I use Transpose to create custom CRMs for all of my PR contacts, influencer relationships, and leads for journalists and other resources.
Feature your users through storytelling
B2B companies have a finite amount of time (and potential user attention span) to convey what exactly can be done with their product. One of the best ways to both clarify the product's capabilities and generate traction through blog posts or articles is to capture a few of your more engaged users' stories in a powerful narrative.
Has your product changed the way that one of your users does business on a daily basis? That is a story that needs to be told. Begin by conducting user outreach to determine if there are unique stories worth sharing, and then, if possible, take the time to get to know those users and interview them about their experiences and their own story.
Media-worthy angles include personal achievement stories or non-profit organizations that have revolutionized their operations with your product. The more personal, the better. Additionally, it always helps to tie these stories to industry trends. For example, if big data management is a term found in a number of recent headlines, look for an opportunity to inject your user's narrative into that conversation while still discussing or mentioning the product.
Ultimately, gaining media traction as an emerging B2B product or technology can be an uphill battle, but it is an important strategy to develop that should always complement user acquisition tactics. Companies that are able to build brand strength and convey a sense of security and trust will prove to potential users that their product is a viable business option worth considering. Unlike B2C startups, extra attention must be given to striking the proper tone of maturity tempered with accessibility in order to reach higher profile clients and users -- an effort that should be taken seriously from day one.
How have you generated traction for your B2B technology or company? Share your thoughts and tactics below or send me an email.