So you’ve decided to get around to telling the world how well you do things, and why, by extension, people should work with you.
But in order to tell that story, you’ve got to talk about what you’ve been doing and what you’re doing now.
Whilst you can talk about solid business developments fairly easily – new services, new hires, new premises, for example – talking about the work you’re doing can be a little more complex. Where to start?
From a communications perspective, you have to know which contracts resonate best with the market, and how to tell the story. You also have to be realistic as to which deals and developments are relevant.
A good public relations advisor can tell a good story from even a relatively small agreement, but there has to be something to say. Telling the world that you’ve shipped an extra 10,000 widgets in September doesn’t really say anything. Highlighting that you’ve shipped 10,000 widgets to a new geography, or customer to capitalise on an emerging trend in the oil and gas market, for example, does.
But before you get this far, you do of course have to have the agreement of your customers and clients to talk about your working relationship, and what you’ve been doing. And this where it can be a bit tricky.
For often very good commercial reasons, your customers may not want you to talk about the work you’ve been doing with them. It may be that there are some sensitivities to the project in other areas, or that they have financial results to announce and are on an enforced period of silence.
Sometimes, however, your customers might not just be in the same place as you when it comes to talking about what they do. They may have had poor experiences with the media previously, or just be a bit happier operating under the radar.
Navigating this situation can be a tricky, and should of course be handled with care.
If you want to play a bit of hard-ball, you can put a notification in the terms and conditions of future contracts that there is a mutual agreement to support future marketing activity. You may, if you think the work is a one off, bulldoze an announcement through. We really wouldn’t recommend the latter, however!
Nine times out of ten, however, it just comes down to the good old art of persuasion. If you can convince your clients that there are mutual benefits to issuing an announcement regarding your contract, telling the market what you’re doing together, and your capabilities, then generally both businesses tend to see the benefits.
Once you’ve persuaded your customer, or if you’re an agency, your client’s client, that this is a worthwhile exercise, you’ve got to then go about the process with some discretion.
Presenting the end customer or partner with a release as a fait accompli and expecting them to sign-off there and then isn’t realistic. Speaking to them before hand, trying to understand what, as a business makes them tick, and setting out how you can work together yields far more results.
Being open to changes for any releases or wider marketing material is also sensible, as it shows a willingness to provide material that works for all parties.
Lastly, always ensure that the proposed timings are mutually beneficial. Having worked hard to agree to discuss and share projects, always consider that your own “urgent” deadline, may contravene those of the end client.
In short, helping clients talk about the work they’ve done with their customers doesn’t have to be difficult, but too often it’s a hurdle at which many fall. Keep some of the above in mind, and you’ll likely ensure that not only will the customer work with you on this occasion, but that you’ll have bought quite a bit of good will for the future.
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If this has gotten you thinking – you have some questions – or you want to talk to us about what happens next, then please drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.Get in touch