Today our editorial series, Marketing for manufacturers, looks at business-to-business publications. Jack Mallen-Cooper explains what they want from you, and what you can get in return.
Business-to-business (B2B) titles are a great way to gain print and digital publicity for your brand, your products, and your company. They strongly complement your direct email, social media and website campaigns – so you get four “bangs for your buck” for each story you produce.
And most good industry media will initially consider a story on its news merits, rather than view you as an ad sales opportunity every time.
But, bearing in mind that much like a bird needs two wings to fly, they need your support as much as you need theirs. They support you by providing editorial coverage that helps you communicate with your target audiences. The support manufacturers can provide to B2B titles is in the form of advertising.
On the one hand, taking out large ads in every relevant publication, every month, is a sure-fire way to go broke, and on the other hand, if no one advertises, the publications are the ones that go broke, and cease to exist. The key is to find the right balance.
When thinking about how much to spend on media advertising and where, ask yourself:
- Who do I want to target with my message? Is it C-suite (CEO, COO, CFO etc), Director and Manager level employees that will make the decision to invest in my product or technology and push this down the chain? Or is it the person on the workshop floor who will be recommending my product, and pushing it up the chain? Sometimes it may be a combination of both. In each case, ask the B2B publication to provide details on their circulation/readership and digital views. See if they can break it down by geographical location and by job title – most will be able to give you useful data about exactly who you’re advertising to.
- What length of campaign works best? Am I looking for consistent coverage and brand awareness, spread over the year? Or would I prefer a concentrated, targeted campaign centred around a new product, innovation or event?
- For consistent yearly coverage, it is advisable to see which publications best reach the audiences you’d like to target, and divide your budget according to your top priorities.
- For targeted campaigns, it is advisable to select a more specific time period, usually one to three months, find the most relevant publication (or publications) and invest your budget here. Smaller companies may prefer to start this way, so they can test the waters before committing to larger, annual campaigns.
- In either case, look for a B2B title that will work with you to gain the best results. The best titles will offer editorial support to complement your advertising, and will suggest ad packages and features tailored to your needs, rather than trying to extract maximum dollars over the shortest time. A long-term, mutually beneficial relationship always yields stronger results than a once-off high cost investment. There are sharks out there, so if you’re new to B2B publicity, it’s often worth asking advice from someone who knows the media.
- What am I trying to achieve with the ad? Is it brand awareness, product sales, or more website traffic, for example? Each goal will require a slightly different approach, and will determine whether you invest in print, digital (web, e-news) or social media ads. Often a mix of each type is the most effective, as they will each reach different audiences. See if the B2B publication can create a cost-effective package for you that encompasses a range of ad types. Then, make sure your ad copy, and call-to-action direct the reader to the right place to meet your end goal.
B2B publications thrive on quality, interesting and well-written editorial. This can be a real asset to manufacturers looking to tell their story. If you’d like to submit your story for consideration on its editorial merits, to maximise its chance of being published, first make sure:
- It’s relevant to the publication. There’s no use sending a story about a wind turbine (even if it’s an interesting and perfectly written one) to a magazine that only covers roads and highway machinery, for example. Not only will it be removed from consideration, but the editor may be less inclined to look at your future stories, even if they have greater relevance.
- It’s well written. Proofread your story first to avoid spelling mistakes. If the busy editor doesn’t have to spend much time fixing your story, it’s more likely they’ll be inclined to run it. After all, if you can’t even spell names properly, how can you be relied on to get the facts right?
- It has sufficient technical detail, without being too jargon heavy. This is covered in more detail here and here.
- It’s interesting and newsworthy. There’s no use talking about an event that happened six months ago – it’s old news now. For some thought starters, see What makes a good story? Remember though that old news is new news in a new place – and you may be able to make an older story new again by showing how your product or technology solves a current problem.
- It follows the publication’s editorial guidelines. Not sure what these are? Just ask! One of the best ways to begin or extend a relationship with a B2B title is to ask for their editorial guidelines prior to submitting an article. It shows you’re willing to put in the effort to submit content in the style they prefer.
As a final piece of advice, make sure you check with the B2B title to find out their deadlines. Most editors will need copy at least a week (often longer) before they go to print. If you submit your story two days before they go to print, it’s likely the magazine has already been laid out, and there isn’t the time to add in any further content.
Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Jack Mallen-Cooper is a Senior Consultant at Whyte Public Relations
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