What is Your Story?

0

What is your Story?

Everyone and every company has a story. How you go about telling that story is the difference in making the story memorable and motivational. Storytelling has been going on since the beginning of human existence. The stories most of us remember as a child are the ones with a simple, yet relatable or emotional message.

Marketing professionals often forget this when writing the next data sheet, PowerPoint presentation or press announcement. All those data specs don’t tell the audience “Why should I care about this?” or “What’s in it for me?”

Say you’re introducing a new toaster. Do folks really care that the toaster was built on the latest electronic/electrical toaster platform? No. They care how the toaster will perform. How long will it last? How many things can it toast at one time, price and so on? Yes, this is a simplified example, but way too many tech marketers get hung up on the latest specifications while the customer benefits and value propositions get lost. How are all these specs relatable? One thing (among many) that I have learned in my PR/marketing career is to answer the question: Why do I care? If you can’t answer this question clearly and convincingly, then something is wrong with your marketing message.

I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Jeff Bloomfield, the author of “Story Based Selling – Create, Connect and Close.” If you ever have the chance to attend any of his presentations – I highly

recommend it. In his book, Bloomfield discusses how we interpret and retain information. He references a study done by the London Business School on retention rates:

  • When presenting statistics/facts only retention was only 5 to 10%
  • When combined with stories & visuals retention increased to 25 to 30%
  • Storytelling alone, retention rose to 65 to 70%.

Here’s a personal story of mine. When I started out in my career, I worked for a major defense contractor; the largest employer in my town. I worked in the Human Resources department, processing in new-hires. It was a great job as I got to meet a lot of interesting people as well as interface on occasion with the higher-ups. Yes, I delivered the mail too. One day, we had a reduction in force – a massive layoff of hourly employees. I was asked to join the termination team for the day to help process out the laid-off employees. It was very emotional as the majority of hourly employees only had a few hours’ notice. Men were crying at my desk and in shock as they didn’t know how they were going to feed their families. It was long and emotionally-draining 12-hour day, processing paperwork for hundreds of people. At the end of that awful day, my boss called me into his office and laid me off! “What, that can’t be, I’m a salaried employee,” I said. The boss went on to say, “It’s affected many of us salaried employees and I’m being transferred to Africa.” Wow! You can imagine my shock. I’m sure anyone who has been laid off can relate in some fashion.

That experience was an important life lesson that left a very lasting impression on me. It was then that I decided that someday I’d have my own company in order to be more in control of my own destiny – and I did.

What’s your story?

Happy Marketing,

PJ Jennings

Social Media and the Leaders of Government and Industry

0

Wow! Who would have envisioned that social media would have evolved
from kids chatting with each other to the titans of government and industry actively using social media to broadcast their messages? Why not? It’s a viable communications medium. In looking at this through the lens of B2B marketing, it further illustrates the importance of utilizing different communication channels to reach your audience. It also emphasizes how important it is for companies to be consistent and truthful in their online messaging and address comments and concerns promptly – whether positive or negative.

Posting on social media outlets helps to set the tone of the company, i.e., serious, fun, helpful, educational, technical, etc. Social media is a vehicle to talk about a company’s innovations, milestones, charity involvement and special staff recognitions in a more human, personal way. In today’s marketing world, it’s all about content and getting folks to champion your product or service. There are opportunities that go beyond lead generation. It’s part sales – connecting in real-time with existing and potential customers; part advertising – imparting brand recognition; and part thought-leadership – creating industry discussions. Companies should not be scared of social media. Granted it’s a fast data stream, but if you sit on the river bank with your head in the sand, then your competition will pass you by, even if they have a less featured product or service than you do.

If you haven’t fully ventured into the B2B social media world, we’re happy to help.

Happy Marketing!

PJ Jennings

5 Tips for a Successful Trade Show

0

Trade Shows – Done right can be very successful – Done wrong and you waste a lot of money and resources.

During the recent recession, many businesses opted out of doing trade shows to conserve budget. Now, trade shows have been added back into the marketing mix; albeit strategically. Being an exhibitor is expensive, so optimizing every element around a show is vital to get the kind of prospects you’re looking for. Here are 5 tips to maximize your trade show success:

#1 – Message: Define your key marketing message for the show’s attendees. What are you trying to convey to prospects? Why should someone do business with your company? Messaging should be more than you have the best widget.

#2 – Inviting Booth: Is your booth comfortable? Can people easily walk into your booth? Are there products on display? Giveaways?  Are the booth graphics compelling?

#3 – Engaged Staff: Are the folks staffing your booth professional and knowledgeable? You might say this is a no-brainer, but I see tons of booth staff chewing gum and reading their emails instead of engaging folks passing by their booth. Also, are the booth staffers outgoing? Again, this is obvious to many, but I often see engineers staffing a booth that often times are not the best in engaging attendees in conversation.

#4 ­­– Eyes Open: Is your staff working all corners of the booth? Funny how many times I’ve seen booth personnel with their back to the aisle! Yikes! This is Sales 101.

#5 – Promises: Make sure you deliver on what was promised to the prospect. “I’ll send you some literature (white papers, app notes, etc.) or “I’ll have one of our customer specialists give you a call.” Make sure your promises are kept.

With all the activities leading up to a trade show, making sure everyone is ready for “show time” can make all the difference in a successful event. Oh, and one more important tip: Make sure you keep your appointment for selecting your booth space for the next show. If not, you risk losing your seniority and preferred location.

Happy Marketing!

PJ Jennings

Jennings & Associates

www.JandACommunications.com

5 Things Not to Do if You Want to Get Press Coverage

0

Based on Jennings & Associates’ 27 years of experience pitching reporters, editors, and producers, we know what succeeds and what fails when interacting with them. First, we tell you what NOT to do and then explain what you SHOULD do to get press coverage:

1) Don’t answer reporter’s questions – Folks forget, especially in the tech sector, that there7768407 are new people coming into your market niche every day. Don’t expect reporters or your target market to know everything about your company or products. Answer questions. If you don’t have the answer, let the reporter know you’ll find the answer and get back to them promptly.

2) Don’t reply to editorial requests – Even if the request is not up your alley, thank the reporter for thinking about your company and use the opportunity to see if there’s a better fit for commentary in the future.

3) PR firm tees up a great article opportunity, but you don’t respond. In today’s digital world, it’s all about content. Your PR firm is trying to position you as a thought leader in your respective market. Content is king, and if you’re not taking advantage of these content opportunities, your competition definitely will.

4) Distribute boring press announcements (yeah, your product is new, so what?). Many tech companies are guilty of distributing press announcements that are filled with technical jargon that only a handful of people will understand. You might say, “Well, I’m only interested in folks who understand my technology.” Yes, but do they really need to understand all the weeds in your technical soup? What they want to learn about are the benefits. How is this new gizmo/service going to help them? This is one of the first questions that should be answered when developing a new product launch and to garner maximum press coverage.

5) Not listening to your PR advisor. Good PR consultants have learned the hard way what reporters and editors want. Most every great PR person has had a reporter hang up on them (boy, does that sting!) because their pitch was useless. They have honed their craft to be interesting, concise and meet the needs of reporters.

Our Clients Continue to Innovate

0

Our clients’ technologies continue to make great inroads to make lives safer and business processes more efficient. Client engineers, product developers and marketers are continually looking at how their specific technBusiness People Working and Technology Conceptsology can enter new markets and solve problems, where before, there was no clear answer. Take wireless communications in the oil field from ABB Wireless for example. In the past, a cellular network was the go-to communications network. However, cellular has its limits – especially in remote field locations. Today’s modern wireless networks are enabling remote visibility to critical well pad control devices, facilitating faster response if something goes wrong. When it comes to this kind of critical application, the “can you hear me now?” technology can’t deliver the needed reliable data communications in harsh remote locations.

Other “behind the scenes” technologies are power supplies from SL Power Electronics that control critical applications. While power supplies aren’t new, the electrical requirements for medical devices and home healthcare are pushing engineers to develop more energy-efficient and safer power solutions. These are expanding markets in which developing the latest technology that meets the newest safety standards is key to success. Fortunately, SL Power is at the forefront of developing and introducing the highest level of performance, efficiency and safety. When it comes to medical devices and medical imaging systems, these applications need the best-performing power to drive their operation.

A not so “behind the scenes” innovation comes from our client, Tricopian. The company has taken a whole new approach in keeping smart phones and tablets charged. Imagine you’re at an airport and your phone is low on fuel. Just go to a FuelRod kiosk (bright green; can’t miss them), swipe your credit card, and for $20 out comes a fully charged FuelRod battery. Connect it to you Apple® or Android® phone or tablet and charge up. When you arrive at the next airport, just swap the FuelRod at the kiosk for a new one for free! Pretty ingenious. While the FuelRod kiosks are not at every airport just yet, they’re rolling-out across the nation and are available now at busy airports including Atlanta, Las Vegas, San Diego, Oakland and Kansas City to name a few.

It’s such fun to work with these and our other tech clients (not mentioned in this post) who work hard to innovate and deliver tech solutions that make our lives and business processes more enjoyable, efficient and safe.

Happy Marketing!

Why Social Media is Important to Businesses Today

0

Social media has caused a monumental paradigm shift in the way businesses communicate with customers, employees, partners, vendors and other stakeholders.  The communications infrastructure of Social Media allows for conversations 24/7, giving companies the ability to react, influence and create meaningful dialogue with customers.  Social Media, when done right can turn naysayers into friends, friends into customers, and customers into evangelists or brand influencers.

Social Network Social Media Business People Outdoors ConceptSocial Media also allows a company to be quickly responsive to industry news, market shifts, customer service and social issues demonstrating that the company is engaged and cares. Case in point: A client was at a major trade show and an attendee tweeted that they went to the client’s booth; however no one would acknowledge him.  The client immediately apologized on Twitter and invited him to come back by the booth. The prospect went back and quickly tweeted how nice the client was and what interesting technology they had. If the client was not paying attention, this person could have turned into a negative influencer. The ability for companies to dialogue and influence prospects quickly can make a significant difference in sales.

Serving Up Fresh, Tasty Editorial Content on Time, Every Time

0

Journalism_1 - CopyA public relations agency’s role can be likened to that of a sous-chef who must please two distinctive yet equally important types of people. The chef must prepare and/or supervise the preparation of delectable meals to delight the restaurant’s customers. At the same time,  he/she must satisfy the requirements of the boss – likely the restaurant owner. For example, the food must look and taste delicious – both the customer and restaurant owner insist on those qualities. At the same time, the chef must not spend too much time preparing any one particular dish or spend too much money on the ingredients to make the entrée. After all, the restaurant owner has a budget to meet and a profit to make.

In public relations, the first important person or customer is our client, whom we must satisfy completely by promoting his/her product, technology or service via various outlets such as online and print publications, social media channels as well as at trade shows, forums and symposia. Because a most effective way to promote products and services is still via trade or business magazines and newspapers, we have another customer to serve.
That customer is the editor/journalist/industry analyst of the publication, blog or research report. Trusted relationships with editors/reporters/producers/analysts are key in public relations. Over the years, we’ve developed excellent contacts and continue to nurture these relationships daily. It’s these media professionals – aka industry influencers – whom we approach for thought-leadership coverage. With our high-level focus and strategy, we are skilled at appealing to the editor’s needs for relevant content that readers/viewers learn from and enjoy. At the same time, we are highlighting our clients’ products and services without being overtly commercial. This is a delicate balance, and a recipe for success in managing media relations and meeting or exceeding client expectations.

Editors/journalists/analysts need credible resources for their articles, blogs and research reports. They need to quote experts on the subject matter they are covering. They also need complex technology explained to them so that they can understand it and then write about it for their readers to assimilate. All this researching, writing, and information dissemination takes time. No matter how efficient or effective they may be, these media professionals depend on knowledgeable, trustworthy sources for their material. Fortunately, J&A is there to provide them with the latest technology news and trends from our clients in a timely manner.

In other words, we whet the editor’s appetite for “gourmet” content. We then satisfy that need with our client’s desire for top-tier media exposure. This visibility ultimately leads to increased sales and market share. We serve our client by securing opportunities in top-tier media outlets. We serve our editor by meeting his/her deadlines and providing fresh, informative content. If the timing does not always work out perfectly, we use businesslike diplomacy and, OK, occasional pleading to achieve our goal.

We’ve been successful for over 26 years, so serving two distinct yet equally important persons seems to be working. We trust that our track record will continue, serving up fresh, relevant content to delight the “palates” of clients and editors on time and on budget.

 

Public Relations and Social Media – Not mutually exclusive!

0

Lately, in the B2B world, I’ve run across folks who think that PR and social media are two distinctly different activities. While metrics and particular mechanics can be different i.e., posting a YouTube video instead of pitching a journalist, the goal is the same – get people talking favorably about your company, product or service.

I compare social media much like going to a party where you don’t know many people. You walk in, introduce yourself (remember your first Tweet?) and engage in conversation. Invariably, the conversation gets to the discussion of what you do for a living, family, sports, church, etc. As the conversation progresses, you find that you have a common interest, and the person you’re speaking to knows three other people with the same likes. And there you go.

Social media has been around for millennia (cave paintings, anyone?) we just didn’t realize it. In its simplest form, social media comes down to communicating – telling your story. When you need help publicizing your story, that’s where Jennings & Associates come in. Whether you want to be on the front cover of a top-tier industry publication or need to publicize your company’s blood drive to support a neighbor’s ailing child, we use all the tools in our publicity arsenal to create awareness, impact and loyalty.

PR and social media have become one.

Happy Marketing!

PJ Jennings, President

Jennings & Associates Communications

www.JandAcommunications.com

Call to Action

0

A prospective client is on your Website – you have lots to offer but how do you engage him? An effective call to action is the linchpin of a successful site and involves not only requesting your visitors to do something, but also being creative in your presentation.

It’s not enough to ask prospective clients to “visit our website.” It’s a very common mantra, but has little impact because it’s not specific. Give people a reason to visit your page and a way to engage further once they get there. For example, ask people to not only visit your website or “like” your Facebook page, but to also comment on a specific question or vote on his/her favorite product.

The true goal is to have customer engagement without even asking. Giving fans of your brand the opportunity to give their two cents on industry topics or product upgrades will encourage them to go out of their way to give their input. Create a call to action that is so effective people don’t even see it as a formal call to action.

It’s easy to ask people to like, retweet or click on something (and it can be effective too) but don’t settle.  For instance, encourage customers to keep track of a product from inception to completion by creating a journey to share. Creating a story for the brand and encouraging users to follow the action is a creative way to effectively raise brand awareness.

Great content leads to engagement and a call to action will get your company its highest levels of feedback. Part of your strategy should be to create content that will always elicit a response. If it is done right, it can generate a real measurable return on investment.

© Copyright Jennings & Associates Communications, Inc.