Every successful business starts with a plan that details where the company expects to be in terms of revenue within three to five years and broadly touches on how it will get there.
An articulated communications strategy can help support your company's efforts in meeting the goals of its business plan. A communications strategy, including marketing and public relations, is responsible for building the awareness and credibility that leads to sales needed to reach those business objectives.
There are three basic ingredients to any successful communications program—positioning, awareness and third-party credibility (confirmation of your company's claims and qualifications through press coverage, customer/partner endorsements, and other outside support). Communications programs should be strategically aligned with business goals to ensure that the right messages are reaching the right audiences.
These programs should not focus solely on market influencers such as the press and analyst communities. These communities are receptive to broader corporate messages. To be successful, you must also incorporate narrowly and specifically tailored messages to key customer and partner targets. We refer to the recipients of broad messages as “macro-targets” and the recipients of narrow messages as “micro-targets.”
Macro-targeting is the approach to business communications with which most people are familiar. Macro-targets are media, analysts and other broadly based market influencers who can validate your business model, enabling the generation of a high level of awareness for your company. Your business receives the important third-party credibility that comes through coverage of your messages in various publishing outlets (magazines, analyst reports, briefings, etc.).
Establishing a positive reputation in the market is the first step to generating sales leads. Remember, the goal with macro-targeting is to build confidence in your company, making it easier to get in the door with sales prospects, partners, etc. People do business with those they know and trust.
Yet, keep in mind that messages targeted toward the media and analyst communities may be too broad for the specific contacts that form your business-development target base. The media and analysts are typically looking for trend analysis, instructional overviews or hard-news announcements with a short shelf life.
When you get to the point of looking for an introduction to a specific business entity for the purpose of developing partnerships, prospecting for customers or seeking investment, that's when you need to add micro-targeting to your corporate messaging and positioning strategy.
Micro-targeting is the strategy you take when you want to focus on specific people, companies and organizations that can more immediately affect revenue enhancement and your overall success. This more sophisticated level of business communication enables your company to go beyond high-level messaging and provide important information to a focused target audience with the goal of opening the door to facilitate business meetings.
All businesses thrive on capital, customers and partners. These three things drive revenue. This is where micro-targeted messages become essential. They answer the “why” questions: Why invest in us? Why buy from us? Why work together?
Develop messages that show specific synergies between your company and the target audience in question. That means taking the macro-level messaging you use for public relations purposes and concentrate it for the narrow segment of prospects that will help you drive your company's revenues.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you have to use macro-targeted and micro-targeted communications together. If you work with a public relations agency to help generate media placements, they have already helped you with your macro-targeting.
Your agency may also have access to people in the business community that can help you meet your capital, customer and partnership goals. Getting to the meeting stage with those people requires close cooperation with your agency in getting the micro-targeted messaging right.
Let's face it, prospective clients or partners are more likely to meet with you based on a recommendation from someone they know as opposed to a cold call. And your agency in all likelihood knows what type of message resonates best with the goals of the companies in its network that you'd most like to reach.
Context is everything. Contextualize your business proposition with what you know of your prospect's business. Reaching the media with macro-level messages gives you general credibility, and delivering your PR results to your sales prospects on an ongoing basis gives weight to your micro-targeted messages.
So remember, establishing your communications program with both macro- and micro-targeting components will be most successful when you can relate your messages directly to your audiences (broad or specific).