When it comes to your sales strategy, PR has always been limited to only the initial stages. While its effects at the top of the sales funnel cannot be overlooked, the benefits of PR significantly impact the buyer’s journey in today’s digitally-driven landscape.
The most critical element in practically every sales funnel is content, which is something PR produces and owns en masse. The role of PR in the sales funnel is precisely to help the customer understand why your brand is the best choice above all the rest. It also maximizes the chance of conversion and ultimately stimulates a continuous flow back into the top of the funnel.
What is PR?
Contrary to what many believe, PR is not just about distributing press releases or securing coverage—although those are important and effective strategies. PR is mainly concerned with strategic communications focused on building mutually beneficial relationships between a brand and its audiences, or “publics.” It’s also about increasing visibility, developing a reputation, building trust, and engaging in helpful conversation that will grow your customer base.
All of this is nice to know, but what does it mean for your sales? That’s a great question.
A strategic PR campaign paired alongside your sales efforts can—and often does— support the entire buyer’s journey to purchase and beyond by influencing each of the key stages a potential customer will move through. There are three main phases where PR can do some major lifting in your sales strategy:
- Awareness Phase
- Attraction Phase
- Action Phase
Let’s take a look at each.
Top of the Funnel: Awareness
Just knowing about the brand’s existence has no value unless the customer is interested in it. People are looking for services or products to solve their problems, so it’s your goal to show why your brand is the one for the job.
This is where PR is known to thrive—it creates awareness, excitement, and demand. A well-placed editorial, a targeted blog post, or a social media campaign can help generate a “need” for what your business is known to provide solutions for. PR can create buzz and drive eyeballs to that content, especially if it comes from an article published in an outlet whose readership matches your target audience.
A potential customer who visits your website as a result of having consumed PR-driven content is more invested and informed than a random website visitor because they have encountered something compelling about your brand that made them want to learn more. This positions the consumer to be more than a visitor but less than a lead. For prospects to make a purchase or move down the sales funnel, you must deliver content that entertains, educates, or inspires them.
Bottom line: Without awareness about the company and the product, there is no sale. In this phase, PR focuses on the target market and introduces the brand to the public’s eyes to move a prospect down the funnel toward purchase.
Related reading: Why Every PR Campaign Needs Social Media Marketing
Through the Funnel: Attraction
Once potential customers have started their journey through the funnel, it’s time to take it up a notch. Since these visitors have consciously decided to invest additional time in getting to know you, their appeal will naturally be more significant. However, even though a customer may be interested to hear about your brand and the products and services you offer, that is not a guarantee that they will convert and make a purchase.
There are so many companies on the market offering similar solutions. Besides the interest, there also needs to be a desire.
Here, PR serves as a stronger source of validation for buyers as they begin to hone in on their favorite purchasing options. It’s important to remember that prospects are conducting their own research outside of your sales strategy and collateral. If your blog is stocked with helpful content, your social media channels are engaging, and your spokespeople are pumping out thought leadership to demonstrate your expertise, PR will probably affect those doing their due diligence in a good way. These touch points may just be the catalyst that turns an opportunity into a customer.
Bottom of the Funnel: Action
The last part of the sales funnel is the most difficult: converting a person into a customer. In the action phase, prospects are converted into customers and are ready to buy from your brand. You’ve generated awareness and gained traction with your marketing tactics and sales efforts, so now the key is staying relevant and continuing to show your value. How can you do that?
There are many ways to validate your buyer’s decision. Take thought leadership to the next level or provide B2B content that your leads need to make informed purchase decisions—content that differentiates you from your competitors. However, one consistent fact is that customers will do business only with a brand they trust, and often one with which they have built some kind of emotional connection. This is where the PR skills of storytelling and building communities can be most powerful, but its power lies in the subtlety of the approach.
Consumers are often distracted, difficult to reach, and fickle, so developing messages and stories that resonate with your audiences and distributing them through content that educates, delights, and influences can be powerful. Testimonials, case studies, and media coverage are proof of your product’s quality and benefits and the overall strength of your business. When it comes to PR, consistency is key. If your PR campaign is done well from the start, the desire for the product will come naturally as a result of the other stages.
As we all know, the customer journey doesn’t end with the purchase—it’s just the beginning of the next phase. Happy customers make the best PR advocates. In today’s digital and social age, the power of customer advocacy can be a force in its own right.
Related reading: How To Win at PR
PR works alongside all aspects of the sales funnel to support the buyer’s journey from awareness to advocacy and back again. It creates more opportunities to connect with an audience through your business stories and thought leadership, builds a solid reputation, and can even influence how people think about your business.
Ready to strengthen your sales funnel through PR? Send us a note.