Plenty of brands know how B2B PR can help customers get started on their sales journey. But how about once they’ve reached the all-important evaluation/consideration phase?
Often, this is where marketers get stuck. Which PR tactics actually move the needle? Which fall flat? How does PR fit into this stage of the customer journey?
In this post, we’ll take a look at exactly how B2B PR fits into the evaluation phase of the buyer’s journey, and how it can help move customers through that sticky mid-funnel no-man’s-land.
What is the evaluation/consideration phase in B2B buying?
The buyer or customer journey has several stages or phases:
As you can see, the consideration phase is right in the middle, just about halfway between being totally unaware of the brand or product and committing to a purchase.
When customers are at this stage (and remember that customers these days tend to move backward and forward on the customer journey repeatedly, rather than follow it in a totally linear fashion), they’ve narrowed down the criteria that are important to them and are now looking at which brands fulfill those specific needs. Their online searches will look more like “X brand CRM vs. Y brand CRM” rather than “best CRM for mid-sized Fortune 500 companies.”
Interestingly, despite its importance, this is also the area of the funnel that marketers tend to neglect. These content marketing stats prove it: 67% of content marketers create top-of-funnel content the most, while just 28% create content for middle-of-funnel customers. Only 5% create content for people who are close to buying.
Why should B2B companies use PR during the evaluation/consideration phase?
Neglecting this stage of the funnel is a huge missed opportunity, not just in content marketing, but in every aspect of marketing and PR. Why? Because marketing and PR should be helping shepherd customers along every step of the customer journey, not only the beginning.
This is especially true in this particular phase of the customer journey, because it’s also the point at which potential customers are weighing you closely against your competitors. They’re determining which brands to weed out, and which to get in touch with. Some solid PR coverage at this point could easily help push them past the tipping point, giving your brand frontrunner status.
What kinds of PR coverage work best for customers in the evaluation stage?
PR comes in all shapes and sizes—more so today than ever before.
Here are just a few of the types of PR coverage we regularly get for our clients:
- Podcast interviews
- Tier One print/online coverage
- Social audio appearances
- LinkedIn fireside chats
- Mentions and features in online and print publications
- Guest posts
- Guest columns
While all of these forms of PR will help your brand move customers through each stage of the buying journey, there are a few things to consider when you’re focusing on the consideration/evaluation stage.
- Your customers are already aware of your brand—what they need now is details.
While plenty of PR and content is geared toward raising brand awareness, a customer who’s in the consideration stage needs more than that.
They want to know the nitty-gritty details of your business and your product or service. They want to know why your brand is better than the 3 or 4 others in your industry that they’re also considering.
Articles in trade publications or industry magazines, detailed walk-throughs of a product, and thought leadership that delves deeper into your industry and how your brand is adapting or shaping trends can work well here to give customers the information they need to feel good about choosing you.
- PR can help you create a sense of urgency.
Certain types of PR coverage, like conference participation (virtual or in-person), live streams, and other time-sensitive or ephemeral appearances, can help you create a sense of urgency with your audience. If something like an interview with your CEO, or a walk-through of your product, will only be available for a short time—assuming you’re being proactive about making that known to your audience—it can help push potential customers through consideration and into action.
A great example of this for B2B tech companies that are new themselves or launching a new product, is a Product Hunt campaign. We completed one of these for a video editing software client in early 2020, and the client saw their signups balloon within a single 24-hour period. The nature of Product Hunt—a community of tech/gadget enthusiasts who are also early adopters—makes it a prime space for generating excitement and urgency for your product, not just for those in the consideration phase, but for those in earlier and later stages, too.
- PR can lend you credibility.
Another critical element of getting customers to choose you? Credibility.
Credibility is what lets potential customers know that they’re not going too far off the beaten path by selecting your brand to work with. This is important because a huge consideration in the B2B buying process is avoiding blame and feeling justified in making the choice that they made.
It’s similar to how the B2C purchase process has evolved: one reason that consumers check so many reviews before buying is that they want to avoid regret and feel that they made the best possible choice.
Buying groups also take a longer time to make decisions today than in the past, and the groups are larger and more diverse according to the Harvard Business Review.
All this is to say that the more credibility your brand can accrue, the better.
PR coverage in Tier-One publications like Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek can instantly boost your brand’s reputation, and you’ll reap the benefits of that boost indefinitely. And since brand reputation is the most important factor in making a B2B purchase decision for 89% of C-level executives, it’s well worth the PR investment.
Strategic B2B PR can help customers move through the consideration/evaluation phase of the buying journey and confidently choose your brand. If you’re ready to get started, get in touch!