As account team members, we often find ourselves writing long-form content for our clients, such...
I came to Edelman a few years ago as communications and marketing were undergoing colossal shifts – the result of shrinking newsrooms, social media’s rise, new marketing software, consolidated budgets and a multitude of other complex factors.
As someone with a traditional public relations background, I was excited to find Edelman navigating this shift by pioneering a truly integrated comms marketing approach. I soon found myself working hand in hand with colleagues to deploy robust campaigns that seamlessly combined account-based marketing (ABM), paid social media, earned media, owned content and other sophisticated tactics.
Today, a holistic approach is more important than ever, as leadership views communications and marketing as a cohesive effort and looks to that team to provide insights on customers, navigate evolving market challenges and drive business growth. With that in mind, here are three questions that are critical to consider when developing an integrated comms marketing strategy:
1. How does our work impact the business’s bottom line?
A sales-driven approach allows comms marketing to meaningfully affect business results.
Historically, sales and communications worked in silos. But when developing a comms marketing strategy today, one of the first questions asked should be, “What are our business goals?” Coming from a traditional PR background, this was a shift for me. My bread and butter was getting earned media placements, not focusing on sales leads and the bottom line. But in B2B, comms marketing strategies need to effectively leverage the results of traditional communications efforts to support the sales team in reaching and engaging prospects.
A big piece of that includes educating the sales team on how to incorporate traditional communications assets, like earned media placements or owned content, into their sales efforts. Arming them with tools, like talking points or sample social media posts, can help them seamlessly showcase a communications asset to prospects and customers as a way to further validate business value.
This sales-driven approach also requires a shift in mindset when it comes to program measurement. The types of KPIs we apply to a comms marketing program must demonstrate the impact our efforts have on business outcomes. At every step of a prospect’s path to purchase, comms marketing should be there with measurable, strategic tactics that help move them down the sales funnel and closer to becoming a customer.
2. Are we reaching the right people?
Smart targeting tactics, like ABM and paid social media, are key to reaching the desired audience.
In B2C comms marketing, there is often an emphasis on creating a viral moment that inspires the masses to take action with a brand. But in B2B – where the customer is more specific and the product is typically more personalized – efforts tend to be most effective when focused on directly reaching individual prospects. We need to know who within the company is the decision-maker, how that person thinks, what their priorities are and who influences their decisions.
That’s why smart targeting through tactics, like ABM and paid social media, is so important in B2B comms marketing. These tactics allow us to strategically apply information about prospects and their influencers so that we can get the right message in front of the right people at the right time. They also enable us to gain better insights about audiences that can fuel earned storytelling and extend the life of earned media coverage through targeted promotion.
3. How does the ecosystem come together?
An integrated comms marketing team with a cohesive strategy creates powerful results.
Tactics like ABM and paid social media are critical to helping us reach the right people. However, once we reach them, we must grab their attention with effective content that conveys our message. Creating “surround sound” that reinforces our message at scale is also key. That’s why compelling owned content and earned media placements are essential to a strong B2B comms marketing strategy. Most important, however, is being mindful of how all the different efforts work together to drive results.
Coming to Edelman with a traditional PR background, I’ve loved the opportunity to work closely with marketing-minded peers to create strategies that include a full spectrum of tactics. Each piece builds off the other to create a smart ecosystem that engages prospects, nurtures them through the sales pipeline, and, ultimately, helps our clients reach their most pressing business goals.
Kristin Schmotzer is a Senior Account Supervisor on Edelman’s Account-Based Marketing Team.