Strategy Bits – Short Answers to Big Questions

Can Content Truly Drive Sales?

Absolutely. Consider the 95-5 rule, which suggests that at any given time, 95% of your target market isn’t actively seeking to make a purchase decision. So, what’s the solution? Should you only focus on the 5% actively in the market? While that might seem ideal, it’s akin to finding a needle in a haystack. Moreover, it often leads to short-term ‘buy now’ tactics that neglect long-term relationships.

The key is to cultivate trust and awareness through relevant and valuable content. Position your brand as the go-to source for insights and education, ensuring you remain top of mind. By playing the long game, you increase your chances of being on the shortlist when buying decisions are made. As the B2B Institute suggests, “If you wait until the buyer enters the market, it’s already too late. You need to prime the market far in advance.”

Have a big question for us?

Send an email to beverly@lages.com and we’ll get you a short answer designed to get you on the path to success.

The Tricks of the Trade: Maximizing Tradeshow ROI

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, to the greatest show(s) on earth! The technology industry’s trade show calendar has evolved from several seasonal affairs to a full year of excitement. Marked by events like CES, Dell Tech World, SC24, OCP, MWC, and the AI/Big Data Expo, tech trade shows are officially a year-round phenomenon. Companies now find themselves amidst a perpetual whirlwind of exhibitions and conferences, constantly vying for attention, networking opportunities, and the chance to showcase their latest innovations and solutions.

In the sea of booths, flashy displays, and swag giveaways, how can your company stand out and make the most of these events?

First thing First: It all starts with a theme. Your theme sets the tone for your entire presence at the tradeshow. Choose one that aligns with your company’s branding and messaging, and that will resonate with your target audience. A cohesive, compelling theme will draw attendees in and make your booth memorable. From there, ensure that every aspect of your booth, from signage to promotional materials, reinforces and enhances your chosen theme to create an impactful, memorable experience.

Set Clear Goals: Well in advance of the event, define specific, measurable objectives such as generating leads, networking with potential partners, launching new products, or increasing brand visibility. Ensure that these goals align with your overall marketing and business objectives.

“Without goals, you’ll drift like a ship without a rudder, aimlessly wandering wherever the currents take you.”

Pre-show Marketing/Outreach: Time is of the essence. Don’t wait until the event begins to start promoting your presence. Utilize various marketing channels, including social media, email campaigns, and targeted advertising, to create buzz and drive traffic to the booth before the tradeshow begins. Are there any show-related awards you can submit for? These deadlines come up quickly.

Engage and Excite: Offer incentives, such as exclusive previews, contests, or giveaways, to attract attendees to visit the booth. Leverage networking opportunities with industry influencers and media to increase visibility and generate anticipation for the company’s presence at the event. If you are seeking meetings and/or briefings with the media, this outreach should start 2 months in advance.

Strategic Booth Design and Branding: Invest in an eye-catching booth design that reflects the company’s brand identity and attracts attention on the tradeshow floor. Incorporate interactive elements, demos, and engaging presentations to showcase products and services effectively. Make sure the booth layout encourages traffic flow and facilitates meaningful interactions with attendees. Don’t forget to make sure your theme is carried through at the booth.

Offer Value: Provide something of value to attendees beyond just promotional material. What’s in it for them? This could be educational sessions, product demonstrations, free consultations, or exclusive access to resources. The more value you offer, the more memorable your booth will be.

Collect Data: Use technology to capture leads and gather valuable data about booth visitors. Utilize lead capture apps, QR codes, or business card scanners to collect contact information and track interactions. This data will be invaluable for follow-up and measuring ROI.

Make Those Connections: The work doesn’t end when the tradeshow does. Follow up with leads promptly after the event while you’re still fresh in their minds. Personalize your communications based on interactions at the show and continue the conversation to nurture leads towards conversion.

Conduct a Post-Show Assessment: A thorough evaluation should be conducted to identify what worked – and what can be improved upon. Measure key metrics such as lead quantity and quality, booth traffic, and sales generated. Gather feedback from booth staff, attendees, and stakeholders to gain insights for future events. Develop a comprehensive follow-up strategy to nurture leads, maintain relationships, and capitalize on the momentum generated from the tradeshow. Don’t forget to include those great images you collected for social posts! You did remember to take pictures, didn’t you?

By implementing these strategies, you can make the most of your tradeshow experience and ensure a positive ROI that extends beyond the showroom floor. With careful planning, creativity, and follow-through, your company can stand out amidst the competition and forge valuable connections that drive business growth.

Take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the show – you’ve got this!

Unlocking Credibility: Strategies for Building Trust in Business

Trends come and go. Markets fluctuate. New technologies are created at the same time others are being obsoleted. Throughout all of this change, there is one thing that you can bank on as a bedrock of success: Credibility.

No matter the business landscape, a sterling reputation is an extremely valuable asset. There’s a catch, though. One cannot simply claim credibility – it must be earned.

Credibility takes time and effort to establish but can be easily lost if not carefully maintained. Everyone seeks credibility – but how does a company become credible and trusted? Here are a few things to look at as you get started on your quest.

Be an active participant in your industry. For example: conferences, associations, speaking on panels. Publish meaningful, engaging, helpful content (tech whitepapers, application insights).

Strike a balance. Promote and tout the benefits of your innovations and how you make your customers successful – but be careful not to overhype, exaggerate or position your offerings as too good to be true. This will only lead to skepticism and resistance. While some over-the-top claims may in fact be true, only go on record with those if you have clear, demonstrable proof points to back them up.

Enlist outside voices. This means industry watchers, analysts, respected players in the field, research institutions and members of the media. Build strong relationships. After all, you are the company you keep.

Be consistent. Consistency is key – in your actions, messaging, branding, and with the quality of your products or services. Consistency breeds reliability, which is essential for building trust over time.

Establish expertise. Position your company as an authority by sharing knowledge, insights, trends and expertise through meaningful/engaging/helpful content and thought leadership.

Win accolades. Obtaining relevant certifications and participating in industry awards programs help validate your expertise and commitment to quality.

Be transparent. Transparency is crucial in your communications with everyone from clients and prospects to potential employees. Address concerns openly and honestly.

Keep innovating. Stay ahead of the curve by investing in research and development. Introduce new features, products, or services that address evolving customer needs and market trends.

Show success. Case studies and testimonials from satisfied customers serve as proof, demonstrating your ability to deliver results.

Partner up. Collaborating with reputable companies or industry leaders can lend credibility to your brand. These efforts can also open doors to new opportunities and markets.

Be supportive. Provide exceptional customer support and service. Promptly address inquiries, issues, and feedback to show your commitment to customers. Strive to exceed expectations.

“Trust is earned, respect is given, and loyalty is demonstrated. Betrayal of any one of those is to lose all three.”    – Ziad K. Abdelnour

 

If you focus on consistently delivering value, fostering genuine relationships, and upholding ethical principles, credibility will naturally and organically follow. The path to long-term success and growth is lined with integrity and purpose.

Strategy Bits – Short Answers to Big Questions

Can Random Acts of Marketing be effective?

Random Acts of Marketing (RAM) refer to impromptu, isolated marketing efforts that lack clear strategic planning or alignment with broader marketing goals. While they may generate short-term buzz, they often fail to contribute to long-term brand growth and customer engagement. RAM represents a siloed approach to tactics that may seem appealing initially, but closer examination reveals they can be costly in terms of time, money, and branding. Engaging in RAM can lead to detours that compromise marketing objectives and ROI.

Examples of RAM include running a TikTok campaign, placing an inflight magazine profile, participating in events where the audience isn’t aligned with target goals, or implementing last-minute marketing initiatives that lack coherence or integration with the brand’s messaging and objectives.

Have a big question for us?

Send an email to beverly@lages.com and we’ll get you a short answer designed to get you on the path to success.

Media Interviews Made Simple – 5 Tips for Success

Congratulations! You’ve got a media interview tomorrow! Are you ready?

The great news is you’ve finally got that interview you’ve been hoping for. Now, it’s time to get prepared as you’ve got one shot to nail this call and your preparation will make or break it.

Media interviews provide a unique opportunity to convey your message, shape public perception, and build your brand. However, stepping into the spotlight can be daunting without proper preparation. When your time has come, and you’ve got that interview on your schedule staring you down, tap into these helpful tips that will ensure interview success:

1) Know the Message You Want to Come Across

First and foremost, know your message inside and out. Before getting on that call write down the key points that you want to make and keep it focused. Trying to get too many points in will derail the interview and the call will end with you wishing you had said something else. Articulate your messages concisely and stop to ask the reporter if they have any questions. Speak slowly and repeat important points that you want to be sure have resonated.

2) Know the Reporter’s Audience

This is critical – Understanding the audience is as important as knowing your message. Does this reporter write for an IT, business, consumer tech or enterprise audience? Understanding and tailoring your message to the audience that they write for ensures that the reporter will write a story and that it will be received favorably. Speaking to a reporter about markets or audiences that they don’t cover is a sure-fire way to end an interview quickly.

3) Know the Background of the Reporter

Set some time aside to read articles written by the reporter you’ll be speaking with. Understand their coverage beat/s, look at their bio, check them out on LinkedIn or X. This knowledge will help you to tailor the discussion because you have a better understanding of their writing style, biases, and knowledge base before the call even starts. And even better…let him/her know that you read their recent story on ‘xyz’ and agree with their conclusions on ‘xyz.’ Ding Ding! Winning!

4) Know Outside Issues and Events That Are Related to Your Story

Give the reporter context by explaining the market landscape. Share industry issues that are causing your customers pain, provide insight into news that has happened recently and connect it with your charter or goals. Never assume the reporter knows what’s happening in the market that is driving your product or solution. Make the connections at the start of the call so that you can set the stage for what you’re about to share.

5) Be Prepared – Practice, Practice, Practice

Want to project confidence on the call? Then practice. Practice is the key to confidence and prepares you in ways you might not have considered. With the proper rehearsal you are able to effectively ‘bridge and block’ when a reporter asks a question that you don’t want to, or are unable to, answer. Rehearse your key messages and responses to potential questions. If you anticipate questions that you can’t answer, practice how you will respond. Practice will help you to refine your message and improve your delivery.

You’re now armed with 5 easy tools that will help you to effectively master a media interview. Now, you can reap the benefits of that new relationship and become a regular go-to resource when new stories come up.

No interviews on the docket – but you wish you had some lined-up to help you get your story in the public’s eye with credibility? We are happy to assist. Drop us a note and we can develop a plan tailor made that will give you the opportunity to tap into your media interview skills.

Strategy Bits – Short Answers to Big Questions

How can you leverage PR to support fundraising and attract investors?

Craft a compelling narrative for your mission and solutions. Go public and maintain visibility by consistently spotlighting achievements, linking them to current market trends. Emphasize tech milestones, new products, customers, partnerships, and market insights, ensuring alignment with your narrative. Highlight company growth (execs, offices, etc.) along with industry involvement, including speaking engagements, trade show participation, collaborations with associations, and any accolades. To reach investors effectively, issue press releases over the wire and share the news on your website and LinkedIn. This not only establishes credibility but also forges a connection between your achievements and your company’s story, creating resonance with potential investors.

Have a big question for us?

Send an email to beverly@lages.com and we’ll get you a short answer designed to get you on the path to success.

Strategy Bits – Short Answers to Big Questions

How can you create thought leadership content that aligns with your brand goals?

Start by listing and clearly articulating your brand goals. Next up, bring together key stakeholders, those who are committed to delivering upon brand goals. Leverage this group to dig deep into how these brand goals serve the company, its customers, the community, and so forth. From this you have the foundation of meaningful content. Then connect this content to trends, issues and markets that bring current and topical relevance. Once you’ve got this anchor content then you can tackle the mechanics: timing, delivery channels, and how to package.

Have a big question for us?

Send an email to beverly@lages.com and we’ll get you a short answer designed to get you on the path to success.

Mastering Media Relations – Why Roles Matter

It’s an exciting time – you are prepping to launch a new product, your company direction has pivoted to reach a new market, you’ve secured funding, you have an amazing entrepreneurial story to share…the list goes on as to why you’ve engaged a public relations firm to guide you on getting the word out.

Before you jump in, it’s important to take a moment to consider the roles of all the players involved in landing a story. It can’t be hard, right? People do it all the time from the cool start-up at your region’s most noted incubator to the established power players at Fortune 500 companies.

It isn’t difficult if you enter the relationship with eyes open and a solid understanding of agendas and perspectives. Just like any endeavor, you need to think from the outside in. So let’s get started with roles:

Consider who the players are in media relations.

  • The source / expert (that’s you!)
  • The reporter
  • Your PR agency

By promoting an understanding of each party’s objective and role (your company, the PR rep, and the reporter) you’ll gain the ability to maximize media opportunities and learn how to navigate through varied inquiries. Take a look at the infographic below to see how this works out:

lages-media-relations-players-graphic-(2)-lages-&-associatiates-inc
  • Once you know the roles, don’t forget that objectives matter too. Consider that objectives will be different – and could even be opposing – but an understanding from you will help everyone find a middle ground and result in a win-win for all involved.
  • Let’s talk about you. As the source and expert, your objective is to get your message repeated exactly as you’ve said it – preferably unaltered. Unfortunately, that can’t always be the case. However, if you know the reporter’s audience and know the message you want to come across – you can become an important resource for the reporter and tell a story that resonates for everyone.
  • Your PR firm is a Jack-of-all-Trades. We are writers, communicators, facilitators of interviews, researchers when reporters need more information, hunters of media assets, and amazing hoop jumpers. We do all of this with the objective of creating a common ground where your objectives and that of the reporter are met.
  • Reporters serve their readers, viewers and listeners. Their objective is to identify good sources and stories that address the needs of their audience. When they agree to an interview, you’re entering the discussion to earn a right to reach the readers of that particular media outlet. That’s the difference between “earned media” versus paid media such as advertising (but that’s a blog for another time).

Okay you’ve got this!

It’s easy to navigate media relations with the proper research, preparation and PR partner. Stay tuned for our next blog post – Ground Rules for Successful Media Interviews.

Elevate Your PR Game: Mastering the Four Pillars of Success

In today’s dynamic and fiercely competitive business landscape, crafting a strong communications agenda is the cornerstone of securing your fair share of attention, wielding influence, and achieving success. Whether your company is a startup or a well-established corporation, you merit having your voice heard and recognized for your contributions.

It’s a complex process dependent upon lots of variables. So where to begin? The answer lies in adopting an approach that steers your endeavors with meaningful purpose. That’s where the Four Pillars of PR Success come into play.

Let’s dive into these pillars:

Step 1: Crafting Your Communications Agenda – Strategically Mapping Out the Path

Embarking on a successful journey begins with a well-defined communications agenda. This crucial initial phase involves articulating your aspirations, target audience, and desired outcomes with clarity. Moreover, it necessitates assessing the market landscape, delving into the driving factors within your chosen domain. While doing so, don’t overlook key issues that can amplify your cause’s significance. Recognize the influential power of opinion and influencer groups, as they can push companies above the status quo. Integrating all these facets cohesively shapes your communications agenda, which forms the backbone of your message platform.

Step 2: The Power of Compelling Storytelling – Message Segmentation

The art of storytelling is the heartbeat of effective communication. Narratives that resonate with your audience on a personal level create a lasting connection, magnifying the impact of your message.

From your origin story to technology, application impact, and corporate vision, every story possesses its own distinctive narrative.  These stories appeal to different media outlets and different segments of your audience. When you tell these stories in a way that grabs people’s attention, you start a conversation. This conversation grows as more people get interested and share the stories. Eventually, the result is a cumulative impact story – where many discrete, individual stories come together over time to create a company image.

Step 3: Nurturing Media Relationships – Establishing Trust

Similar to how companies create distribution channels for their products, our goal is to forge a media channel for stories. This channel encompasses numerous outlets, each featuring distinct sections and overseen by different contacts. Our task involves nurturing and presenting news, ideas, and views to these contacts.

To maintain this channel’s effectiveness, a steady stream of well-packaged information is essential. Moreover, having access to thought leaders and experts is crucial. As you cultivate genuine connections with editors, reporters, and writers, you cultivate trust. This trust, in turn, opens doors to their audience, allowing your message to be published and received with the added cache of the publication brand.

Step 4: Gaining Support and Endorsements – Harnessing the Strength of Allies

The influence of third-party support holds immense significance, underscoring the need to incorporate influencer elements into your PR strategy. These allies can include industry analysts, partners, and customers—individuals and groups situated outside your organization. Their voices and recognition can carry considerable weight, pointing to the value and merit of your efforts. By engaging with these external stakeholders, you tap into a wellspring of authority and trustworthiness that can substantiate your narrative. This not only adds depth to your message but also reinforces your position as a credible player in your field.

These relationships are then leveraged by using them as media references, quoting them in blogs, news releases or other materials,  conducting webinars, joint speaking sessions and more.

Among these allies, customers are the MVPs. They’re the most powerful supporters because they can vouch for the value of your product or service. Sharing stories of how your offering has helped them, having them speak about their experiences, or even using their quotes in various materials are ways to showcase their support.

As they say, we are often judged by the company we keep – thus your circle of supporters becomes part of your brand’s identity.

Lasting Influence Can be Yours

The Four Pillars of PR Success offer a guiding light, ensuring that your company not only grabs its rightful share of the limelight but also wields influence effectively. Remember, in a world of constant change, mastering these pillars will keep your PR endeavors resilient and impactful.

Ready, Set, Launch! 10 Steps for a Perfect Product Takeoff

If a tree falls in the forest, but there’s no one around to hear it, did it make a sound?

We’ve all heard this old adage at least once or twice, but it definitely bears repeating when it comes to technology product launches. At this very moment, your product team could be hard at work, creating a unique new solution that the world needs to know about. But then what?

Successful product launches don’t just happen overnight – to make a big splash takes careful planning, coordination and buy-in from key constituents. And here’s the thing: you only get one chance to make a good first impression. It doesn’t matter how great a product it is … if no one knows about it, your hopes and dreams of changing the world for the better are dead in the water. PR plays a pivotal role in the launch process – and can mean the difference between success and failure. Read on for 10 steps for a perfect product takeoff.

Planning and Logistics

Step 1 – Time to Plan

As with many things in life, developing a plan ahead of time is paramount to a successful product launch. The PR team should have their own plan including all comms activities and required materials. Then delineate who is responsible for what. Who is the spokesperson? Does that person need media training or message points? These are all factors to take into consideration during the planning process.

Step 2 – The Timeline

Creating a timeline will help alleviate surprises and make sure that all team members know their role and when various elements need to occur. If you have a target launch date in mind, work backwards to make sure there’s enough time to get everything done. Create a calendar or spreadsheet with the key dates and components, then stick to it.

Step 3 – Do Not Be an Island

As part of the plan and timeline development, it’s imperative to coordinate elements of the plan with key members of the team – from product management to sales and marketing. To mitigate mishaps, everyone must be on the same page. Continuous communication is critical.

Step 4 – Media & Analyst Intelligence

Media, industry analysts and other influencers play a substantial role in spreading the word about new products. It’s up to the PR team to do their due diligence ahead of time to determine the right targets. This generally consists of topic and competitor research to ensure that no one important is overlooked.

Implementation

Step 5 – Media & Analyst Relations

Once the targets have been identified, it’s time to go after them! If you’re offering embargos or advance briefings, identify your top-tier contacts then reach out with a teaser about the product to solicit interest. And once the embargo is lifted, reach out to the wider list of contacts to let them know about the product and why they should care.

Step 6 – News Release

The news release is an important tool in product launches. This is your chance to tell the world about the new solution in your own words and to help journalists know how to frame their stories. Think of it as the ultimate source document.

Step 7 – Supporting Collateral

There are often several pieces of supporting collateral to accompany the news release. If your product is technical, there could be a product spec sheet/brief, a solution brief, a feature brief and, in the case of more consumer-facing products, a quick-start guide or instruction booklet. Each of these pieces need to be crafted in advance of the launch and looked at in totality to make sure there are common themes and that message points don’t contradict each other. These documents assist journalists in extracting the drill-down speeds and feeds that are typically not included in a news release.

Step 8 – Multi-Media Assets

Nothing paints a picture better than visual assets, which can tell the story without (many) written words. If your product is something that lends itself to a photo (a gadget, chip or hardware appliance, for example) then physical product shots are a must. If your product is software, then screenshots of the interface can also serve in this role. But don’t limit yourself to these! Lifestyle or application shots can be a great supplement to product shots, as can charts or graphs of the product’s performance. Videos can be very powerful, as can infographics. It’s up to the team to decide how to tell the story visually and to allocate the resources to get these assets created in time for the launch.

Step 9 – Online Press Kit

Many of us remember the days when press kits were of the hard copy variety – but just because hard copy press kits are passe doesn’t mean that press kits should go by the wayside. Simply make the press kit digital and share the link with media and analysts for them to use at will. News releases, collateral, multi-media assets, backgrounders, quote sheets, etc. can all go into an online press kit.

Step 10 – Promotion

After you’ve gone through each of the above steps, now it’s time for the fun part … promotion! This can take a number of forms … social media, newsletters, e-mail blasts to partners and customers, banners on the company website, and so on. Got a great review or article about the new product? Share it! Secured an awesome testimonial from a beta user? Tell the world! This is your chance to leverage all of your hard work and present it in an interesting way. The more third-party endorsement you have, the better.

That’s a Wrap

Product launches don’t have to be a daunting task. With the right amount of research, planning and execution, they can actually be quite fun. Got a product launch on the horizon and not sure how to get started? Reach out to us and we’ll get you on your way to making a splash.