PR and the Sales Funnel – What does PR do?
For many business owners, public relations remains mysterious. Something perhaps only for large multi-national corporations, or companies in specific industries. But the truth is – if you’re business is working, you’re already doing it. Here we clarify the role that PR plays in relation to the sales funnel or inverted pyramid. Whatever you wish to call it, one fact remains: this pyramid represents the customer journey – and understanding this as a business owner or marketer is critical if you’re to sell more, grow your business and flourish commercially.
Step One: Awareness
In the simplest sense, PR involves tasks that increase awareness – whether this be by TV, radio, email marketing, social media or any other medium in between. Awareness is the first stage of the customer journey – the moment a potential customer discovers your brand. If you can’t create awareness, there’s no business.
Your goal here is not only to ensure people discover your company – but gain an idea of your branding, your USP and your values.
This stage is often the most expensive – demanding advertising budgets and the services of various digital service providers. You need to experiment with which channels work best – and it’s easy to get it wrong. Other pitfalls include the potential for either positioning yourself incorrectly, or failing to successfully communicate your offering.
Step Two: Consideration
At this stage, you’ll help the customer in narrowing down their options and coming to the decision that they should choose you over all other options. Critical considerations include frequency of contact and a succinct, strong message. Tools that are employed here include direct contact such as email, letters, brochures etc all designed to develop their interest in your business. Another vital tool is that of SEO – which will help your potential online customer discover you, and the information that they need, without your direct involvement.
Step Three: Purchase
The best bit – the prospect becomes a customer by making a purchase.
Step Four: Loyalty
There is a psychological element to a purchase. Should your product or service have only a minimal price point, there is potential that this purchase was made in the moment. To this end, when a purchase requires only a small financial outlay, there is less commitment required to the brand (and therefore, less loyalty). The opposite is true for products and services that are seen as a significant cost – think Apple – all of which will impact on the tasks involved to foster repeat custom. Further PR can help reinforce and remind the customer of your brand, and go on to create loyalty.
Step Five: Ambassador
When a customer becomes loyal to your brand, they’ll do your PR for you. Great for social media and online review websites. This kind of personalised recommendation is the best kind of PR. And more believable than any carefully crafted marketing message.
Stop. Now is the time to address these questions…
- Do you have a strong brand that your target market is aware of?
- Have you built a persuasive case for your brand?
- Do you provide your target market with a concrete reason to purchase?
- Does your brand truly deliver on all the promises you make?
- Are you there after purchase with strong, reinforcing messages and encouragement?
PR is not a sales tool, it’s an awareness tool. Whatever your industry, product or service, PR is every communication you send out. Through every layer of the sales funnel, PR is at work. From the Awareness stage to post purchase, where the goal is to turn purchasers into fans.