It’s budgeting season for B2B technology companies. Chief marketing officers, VPs of marketing and directors of communications alike are looking at line items for everything from public relations and social media management to analyst relations and trade show spend. It doesn't matter if you’re a cloud player, cyber security shop or data analytics company, having the right budget mix for all of your communications programs is critical for ensuring both your professional and your organization’s success in the year ahead.
So where should you begin? Hopefully, you have been measuring the impact of your communications programs throughout the year, so let’s consider a few questions as we start with the larger market considerations.
Do you have an integrated communications strategy? Or is “integrated” just a nice word that describes several different tactics that may be happening concurrently, but are rarely aligned? PR can often be the “API” to integrate your communications program, using a campaign-centric approach to unify everything from targeted social to paid amplification — with the side benefit of easier measurement.
By orchestrating a fully integrated communications program, you can add budget where it makes the most impact and cut it where it doesn’t. For example, using a wire service to issue a press release may be a good idea for a major partnership announcement, but product v7.72 is likely better suited for the blog, freeing up the $1,000 in saved wire costs to put towards paid social amplification that specifically targets your core audience. Having a more holistic view gives you the power to make more impactful budgeting decisions.
Where are you located? While it might seem like a silly budgeting question, our experience has been that, on average, B2B technology companies located on the west coast spend 37% more on PR than their east coast counterparts. That adds up when you’re competing for air time from overworked journalists and CIOs that are constantly bombarded with the next greatest enterprise solution.
It’s difficult to know exactly what your competition is spending on marketing and communications programs, but if you are seeing more of their name in the press, noticing more online ads and witnessing larger trade show booths, you can bet they have ramped up their investment. Don’t lose pace with your competitors just because of the zip code of your headquarters.
Once you start diving into the line items of your communications budget, it’s a good time to look for areas where you can consolidate or repurpose your spend.
Augment your analyst relations budget by adding an influencer marketing campaign. By adding in budget to support customer, blogger and social media influencers, you can increase the chances that your prospects are hearing the benefits of your solutions from at least one person they trust.
Consider combining content marketing and PR investments to streamline the creation and amplification of written digital and video assets. Content is fueling some of today’s most successful PR programs, so by combining content marketing campaigns with PR, you can build awareness and capture leads without re-creating assets. In addition, placing content can help boost your organic search results, so adding SEO spend to the mix may also make sense for your business.
While it may not be a specific budget item, investigate the possibility of creating a bi-coastal PR team. Having PR professionals in both Boston or New York and San Francisco will get you a few extra hours of coverage every day and help you more effectively keep a pulse on relevant media activity on both coasts.
Budgets rise and shrink and allocations to different marketing and communications activities are constantly being adjusted. Taking a step back to look at how your marketing spend relates to your business goals can help shed some some light on the adjustments that can have the biggest impact.
Whether it’s big data, mobile, application development, analytics, virtualization, data science, artificial intelligence or cloud, Senior Vice President Keith Giannini is dedicated to helping clients distill complex enterprise technologies into consumable storylines and thought leadership campaigns that resonate with key opinion leaders to move the business needle.