“Will PR increase my sales?” It’s a loaded question, and one that we get quite often from clients and potential clients. The short answer is: “it depends.”
As a business owner, this type of answer can be hard to hear because you want to be able to directly connect all of your marketing activities to the bottom line. Some marketing initiatives are easy to measure. For example:
- You ran an ad on Facebook and 100 people clicked through to purchase your product.
- You did a direct marketing mail out (snail mail is alive and well!) and 300 people used the special code for purchase through your website.
- You ran a pop up shop and sold out of your new product line.
What about the 10 media features you had? Unless you ask every customer whether they came to you because of your media coverage, it’s a lot harder to measure the direct impact on your sales. PR does not automatically equal sales. That being said, a successful PR strategy will definitely affect your sales success indirectly through 3 factors:
- Brand awareness & recall
- As a secret marketing weapon
Brand Awareness & Recall
No one will buy from you if they have no idea who you are. Seems like a fairly obvious statement. PR will help you gain the visibility you need to make an impact and leave a positive impression on your target audience. PR will help you build a great brand reputation, which will help you build lasting relationships with your target audience.
For many small businesses, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle and overshadowed by large brands with huge marketing and advertising budgets. A great media hit can be more valuable than an expensive ad campagin, but it often takes a lot more effort to accomplish. Rather than calling up an ad rep, you have to build the right narrative to attract editors. Your narrative (the story you pitch) is what will help you step out of the big brands’ shadows because people are generally drawn to stories rather than ads, which are easily ignored.
Great PR helps you build credibility and trust among your target audience. Having a third party tell your story is an endorsement in customers’ eyes and can make the difference in a sale. For example, a potential customer is choosing between two brands that offer similar products at similar price points. One of the brand websites has a number of reputable media outlets listed with links to coverage. The other has none. Most customers would think the one with the media coverage is more credible, which means more trustworthy, which makes the customer feel good about investing their money in what they have to offer.
While your regular content marketing is fantastic (keep those blogs coming!) this third party endorsement will almost always be seen as one step higher in the credibility range.
Secret Marketing Weapon
PR is one of your most compelling strategic marketing tools when it comes to your long-term overall strategy. It will help you boost your business growth in many ways that will affect your sales. While it might not directly drive sales conversions, you should be using it to start or enhance your conversations so you can close the deal easier.
One way to ensure your PR strategy is working in tandem with sales (and other departments!) is to target your PR in the same way you would your sales. Align your goals across departments. If your overall business goal is to increase sales, then figure out how to make that the goal of PR. Tie it in with your other marketing initiatives. You should also make sure the media outlets and public opportunities you are securing have the same audience as your target audience profile.
Here are a few ways you can use your PR successes as part of your sales strategy:
- Include links to articles in sales emails. Does anyone even open PDFs of your sales material? Including a link to your latest media feature is a great way to introduce potential customers to your business in a non-invasive way. Sure you are sending a cold email, but if your article provides value, then they will more likely to want to connect with you for further conversation.
- Share your PR successes on social media. Obviously, share links to your articles, but you can also share videos of your latest speaking engagements, and visuals live from events and public stunts.
- Turn the content from the presentation slides from your latest speaking engagement into individual images to share on social media. Highlight stats and unique thoughts.
PR people are not sales people in the traditional sense. We know how to tell a great story to make it interesting to both your target audience as well as media and influencers. A great public relations strategy isn’t meant to act as a sales strategy. It’s meant to help you build credibility and legitimacy as a brand and give you new opportunities for brand exposure that you can turn into sales opportunities.
We love telling stories, and yours could be the next big thing. Call us to talk about your PR strategy today!