A strong reputation strategy provides the foundation for a b-to-b organization to successfully enter a new market
When b-to-b organizations enter new markets, the communications team needs to embrace two roles – first, as part of a team that assesses market readiness and establishes a foothold, and then as a leader employing innovative methods to advance into markets where awareness of the organization might be low. The success of these reputation tactics determines the organization’s ability to create demand and support a healthy pipeline in the new market. In this issue of SiriusPerspectives, we look at five types of tactics that communications leaders should apply as part of a reputation strategy when entering new geographic, vertical or firmagraphic markets.
Organizations often enter new markets without fully considering the burdens placed on the communications team, and the resulting need for additional human and financial resources. They may assume that new responsibilities can be absorbed by other parts of the marketing organization, or that the use of earned media will mitigate budget impact. Communications leaders should address incorrect assumptions early in the planning process to avoid setting unrealistic expectations. Consider the following specific issues associated with each type of new market:
Can existing content be adapted for new markets? How much new content needs to be developed? To answer these questions and ensure audiences’ needs are met, communications should help drive enterprise-wide best practices around content development. Communications also should seek to reuse content when possible. Consider these actions in the context of each market type:
Communications to (and through) a broad range of influencer types make up the bulk of corporate communications activities. Analyst relations, public relations and brand professionals must collaborate on a holistic strategy that includes paid, earned and owned elements. Although persona research is the first step toward identifying relevant influencers (e.g. analysts, journalists, bloggers, social pundits), it is usually supplemented with social and traditional media monitoring. Specific influencer considerations include:
The amount of paid media required depends on the level of existing awareness, how rapidly the company wishes to advance, and the goals of the reputation campaign. Communications leaders should participate in a cross-functional planning process to ensure reputation strategies align with demand and sales enablement activities. Start by evaluating the effectiveness of existing media and event buys in supporting campaign goals and timelines. Build on the organization’s existing media and events footprint before venturing into new media buys and sponsorships. Specific investment considerations include:
A large, established company that already has general name recognition in a new market might enjoy a slight brand awareness advantage. For example, a large software company in the United States might be well known in the United Kingdom within the same vertical. However, tangential awareness doesn’t necessarily translate into demand for the company’s offerings. A name or logo is meaningless without the robust content, influencer and awareness tactics needed to drive home the value of the organization’s offerings. An effective reputation initiative supporting entry into a new market should highlight the value of both the company and its offerings in the context of the target market.