Top 5 Ways PR and Growth Marketing Work Together

By Juliet Travis, Founder, Liftoff Communications

A few weeks ago I attended the Conversion + Copy for Growth-Minded Businesses hosted by Vasil Azarov (@VasilAzarov), founder of the Growth Marketing Conference and CEO of Startup Socials. The speaker at the Conversion + Copy for Growth-Minded Businesses event was Liston Witherill (@law4), founder of Good Funnel, a digital marketing agency.

Side note: Vasil's main Growth Marketing Conference is taking place this week on May 5 and 6, and I will be writing another article based on my takeaways from this major event, as well.

I have a background in public relations, so you're probably wondering why someone like me would be remotely interested in an event like this. My reason for attending an event focused on conversions and copywriting is because although channels change, PR and storytelling still remain the most critical part of marketing and sales. I believe that by integrating PR into a marketing automation engine where you can measure conversions and results, more of a growth marketing approach, PR then becomes a powerful tool to drive customers into the sales funnel.

Below are my most valuable takeaways from this event:
1. Love Your Customers More Than Your Product
2. Know the Difference Between Content and Copy
3. Test Everything
4. It's a Journey, Not a Funnel
5. What is Your "Job To Be Done"

1. Love Your Customers More Than Your Product.

Good Funnel embraces a customer-first approach to marketing. Liston suggests that a human-centered approach enables brands to connect with customer needs, instincts and emotional triggers. Although it seems obvious, many startups lose touch with customers in the maniacal rush to crank out product and marketing. Good Funnel talks about how it embraces customers at the start of each engagement and then checks in frequently to gather customer feedback. By gathering customer feedback and by truly understanding your clients' customers needs, you can harness these relationships to give you gold nuggets when building your PR and growth marketing programs.

2. Know the Difference Between Content and Copy.

The difference between content and copy is that "content" is material intended to educate, while "copy" is material that you write to get people to take a specific action. Content can be more long-form - think of blog posts, white papers, or podcasts. Copy has to be concise, hard-hitting and focused on what really makes people want to take a specific action like: click, download, sign up, share something on social media, make a purchase and more. Every PR person should learn how to write more effective copy that doesn't just educate - but also persuades and inspires action. This action is important because it can drive media coverage and help clients with conversions, web traffic and increased sales leads. Ultimately it also helps to build a measurable public relations and growth marketing program which usually creates a major return on investment.

3. Test, Iterate, Test Again, Iterate Again!

Today, it's easier than ever to test multiple versions of copywriting messages and figure out which ones get the best results. Liston recommends WhichTestWon.com as a great resource for learning more about conversion tests as well as how to test different website designs and marketing messages to see which versions resonate with an audience. The beauty of testing is that you don't have to get everything right on the first try. You can let your customers decide. Pitching editors is a similar process. When you figure out which headline resonates the most, you have a higher open rate with your emails.

4. It's a Journey, Not a Funnel.

By the time most companies find product-market fit, they've mocked up dozens of colorful diagrams to illustrate their sales funnel. Yet the word "sales" suggests a company-centric marketing model. It even sounds mechanical. By flipping the focus to the customer, the funnel becomes a "buyer's journey." The journey framework allows you to understand customer thinking and feeling at each step of the sales process, and how you can use this to build trust and connect with their emotional state. Why is it important to understand your buyer's journey? Because you can't persuade people who aren't ready to be persuaded! If you can't persuade people - then you can't secure customers. If you don't have customers, it's hard to truly tell a colorful story to the media that includes the customers; thus you don't have industry validation. When you're customer IS ready, then so is the media - and when THEY are ready, you can hit them with your killer copy to convert!

5. What 's Your "Job To Be Done"?

Another way of thinking about persuasive writing is in terms of the JTBD ("job to be done") framework. For this you ask, "What is the customer hiring us to do? What is our product's job to be done?" This is especially important for technology firms to do, as they often struggle to emphasize the right features and product benefits in their marketing and PR messages. If you're doing PR for tech firms, you have to figure out which use-cases are the most important to the customers, then combine and deliver those messages at the right point in the buyer's journey.

Once customers know your brand, have read about your product in the media, have seen their connections mention your company and product on social media, and have built trust your brand - they are then much more receptive to buying.

Bottom line - the most effective message is one that speaks directly to your audience, shows that you understand their concerns, and shows that you are in touch with your customers' emotional triggers. Keep this in mind - persuasion involves (1) building trust, (2) meeting customers where they are in the buyer's journey, (3) speaking a customer's language, (4) showing why a solution will solve a customer's problem, and (5) proving that you are trustworthy and credible.