cmo

I was on a webinar presented by Morgan Stanley and PwC about preparing for an IPO – and something struck me – there was optimism, and the organizations were signaling their faith in the return of IPOs, soon. 2023 has been an IPO graveyard, but as one host said, “One thing we know is markets change, and so it will also be for the low point of IPOs.” Their advice? Prepare now. Preparing for an IPO is a daunting task for any startup, and the focus is often on due diligence. Yet communications and PR are critical to public offering preparedness. What do pre-IPO companies need to do from a communication standpoint? 

 

Reputation Building 

Investors know that when you pitch them for your IPO, the company has a verified financial model and total addressable market (TAM). And founders know investors are looking for the next $1 billion brand. This makes your company’s reputation extremely relevant. So when you’re looking to stand out to investors, nothing shows social proof quite as well as media coverage. Media coverage can go on the road with you and helps you stand out to investors. Confident, media savvy CEOs give investors confidence; it shows you can handle a very different role as CEO of a public company. 

Thought leadership is vital to reputation building. During this growth stage, executive visibility is more relevant than ever. Since a solid thought leadership program takes time and strategy, we recommend starting a thought leadership program at least 24 months before a desired IPO. 

Create a Compelling Narrative

Many founders mistake the pitch to investors as the corporate narrative. The two are cousins, but different. The narrative should resonate with key stakeholders, investors, and the public, highlighting the company’s mission, accomplishments, and long-term vision.

Know the Difference Between IR and PR

IR (investor relations) and PR (public relations) have important but slightly different roles in a company’s growth pre-IPO phase. Investor relations focuses almost solely on analysts covering topics your potential investors care about. Meanwhile, PR is targeted towards a broader set of journalists, and the public at large. They can and should work together. For example, both should play a role in any press releases. IR will ensure due diligence is met and ensure the investor messaging is correct, while PR will want to ensure the brand message is consistent and the media targets get the information they need. 

Crisis Planning 

The best time to manage a crisis is before a crisis. Before you go public, and get caught up in all the details of going public, plan for a crisis. How you handle a crisis will affect your brand, and god forbid you to have a crisis during your roadshow or quiet period. Your crisis planning should include many scenarios, from the employee, to property, to product, and, yes, cyber security. Every one of these scenarios could require different stakeholder involvement and point persons. Your crisis planning should include table top exercises and the executive team should review crisis PR plans at least once yearly. 

ESG Planning 

 Investors want to be part of companies with the broadest investor audience, and ESG (environmental, social and governance) is part of that, especially since some brokerage firms and mutual funds are offering investment products that employ ESG strategies. Larry Fink, Blackrock CEO, and co-founder, said ESG is “capitalism, driven by mutually beneficial relationships between you, the employees, customers, suppliers, and communities your company relies on to prosper,”.

From a PR perspective, ESG and even purpose-driven brands have special sensitivities, and it’s important to have a coherent plan and PR strategy for these talking points for all your stakeholders, from investors to customers. ESG is not just for the “woke” – investors see the writing on the wall and have for some time. Also, buyers beyond GenZ see the importance of ESG. 

Audit Your External Communications 

Ensure your website and any owned media meet all regulatory requirements – including executive bios, blog posts, and social media. Look at this moment as your last chance to shower before prom. Your website and social media should also be robust and brand consistent. You want everyone to see you in your best possible light, and the most accessible way for new friends to get to know you is your website. 

Media Training 

The press is not the enemy, but they aren’t here to be your BFF either. Talking to the press live and learning to work with the media under various conditions, including in person with lights and mics, is a skill. While you may have undergone media preparedness before interviews, now is the time to take on a full media training program for your executives and spokespersons, including anyone who attends public events (like trade shows) on your behalf. 

Expect media training to take several days of intense hands-on training and review. Since all relevant stakeholders will be together, it is also a good time to review and practice your crisis plan too. Since media training is a skill, conducting this exercise well before IPO is recommended. 

The Big Show

Your company will never again go public. This is one of the few indisputably great news moments.  Someone (not the CEO) must ensure the moment is documented and promoted. Do not miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s true – not every company makes the front page of the Wall Street Journal when they go public, but it is news – and someone will care. Using this opportunity to connect with journalists is key; it’s a great time to fill up the trust bucket in the eyes of journalists. 

Prepare for the moment with some notable key messages and brand-worthy must-airs. Run through your must airs and make sure you are prepared to answer questions that might come your way. Have your day meticulously planned with your communications in mind and watch the accolades roll in. 

Effective pre-IPO PR planning is crucial for companies aiming to go public. By crafting an interesting narrative, engaging media and influencers, developing investor communication strategies, building a strong online presence, managing crises, leveraging thought leadership opportunities, and engaging internal stakeholders, companies can establish a positive brand image, attract investors, and generate enthusiasm around their IPO. 

This article has also been submitted by the author to Entrepreneur.com

B2B Content Marketing Strategies That Work: Elevate Your Business Today

 

Running a successful business might seem like a dream to many startup owners and new entrepreneurs, but it’s achievable with the right B2B content marketing strategy. In this world where content is king, businesses must recognize the power of effective content marketing.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the most successful content marketing strategies for B2B businesses, the importance of having a solid plan, how to create one, and answer some frequently asked questions.

Buckle up, and let’s embark on this exciting journey to business success with growth marketing PR!

Significance of a Robust B2B Content Marketing Strategy

Delving into the crucial aspects of a well-designed B2B content marketing strategy helps us understand its importance in driving business growth and success. A solid plan plays a vital role in multiple areas:

  1. Carving out thought leadership: By consistently producing insightful and valuable content, your business can establish itself as an authority within your industry, garnering trust and respect from your target audience. This thought leadership can lead to speaking opportunities, guest posting, and collaboration with other industry leaders.
  2. Lead generation and nurturing: High-quality content attracts potential clients and keeps them engaged throughout the buyer’s journey. By offering relevant content at each stage of the buying process, you can guide prospects toward conversion more effectively. This approach leads to increased sales and client retention.
  3. Relationship building and customer loyalty: Consistently delivering relevant content allows you to connect with your audience deeper, fostering trust and devotion that contribute to long-term business relationships. This connection can lead to repeat business, referrals, and strong brand advocacy.
  4. Enhanced search engine rankings: Creating engaging and informative content optimized for search engines boosts your website’s visibility, leading to increased organic traffic and improved rankings. This increased visibility helps your business attract potential clients and reinforces your reputation as a thought leader.
  5. Brand differentiation: An effective B2B content marketing strategy allows you to distinguish your brand from competitors by showcasing your unique value proposition, expertise, and insights. This differentiation can attract clients explicitly looking for your unique solutions and industry knowledge.
  6. Educating your audience: A solid B2B content marketing strategy focuses on educating potential clients about industry trends, best practices, and solutions to their challenges. By doing so, you empower them to make informed decisions while positioning your brand as a trusted source of information.
  7. Expanding your reach: A diverse content marketing strategy helps you reach a broader audience by leveraging different content formats and distribution channels. This extended reach can lead to new business opportunities and partnerships.

Designing a Powerful B2B Content Marketing Strategy for Maximum Impact

Creating an impactful B2B content marketing strategy requires a well-thought-out approach that addresses your target audience’s unique needs and preferences. Below, we break down the essential steps to craft a winning strategy that drives results and sets your business apart:

  1. Set clear objectives: Begin by defining your content marketing goals, like increasing brand awareness, generating leads, or improving customer retention. Establishing specific, measurable, achievable, and relevant goals will help guide and measure your strategy’s success.
  2. Identify your target audience: Understand your ideal clients by creating buyer personas that detail their demographics, job roles, pain points, and goals. This knowledge will help you create content that meets their needs and preferences.
  3. Perform a content audit: Assess your existing content to identify gaps, areas for improvement, and successful pieces that can be repurposed or updated. This audit will provide insights into the content types that resonate with your audience and inform your future strategy.
  4. Develop your content themes and topics: Based on your audience’s interests and pain points, create content themes and subjects that demonstrate your expertise, provide valuable insights, and address their needs. Use keyword research to identify trending topics and optimize your content for search engines.
  5. Choose appropriate content formats: Select the designs that best align with your audience’s preferences and platforms. These formats may include blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, videos, podcasts, webinars, or social media posts.
  6. Create a content calendar: Develop a content calendar that outlines your publishing schedule, including the types of content, topics, and channels for distribution. This calendar will help you maintain consistency and ensure your content remains fresh and relevant.
  7. Distribute and promote your content: Leverage a mix of channels to distribute and promote your content, e.g., your website, email marketing, social media, guest posting, and paid advertising. Tailor your distribution strategy to reach your target audience effectively.
  8. Engage with your audience: Encourage engagement by responding to comments, answering questions, and participating in industry discussions. This active engagement will help build trust, foster relationships, and solidify your position as a thought leader.
  9. Measure and optimize: Regularly track and analyze the performance of your content using relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) aligned with your goals. Use these insights to refine your strategy, improve your content, and drive better results.

The B2B Content Marketing Best Practices for Stellar Results

To ensure your B2B content marketing strategy effectively engages your audience. It drives the desired results, consider the following best practices:

  1. Focus on quality over quantity: Prioritize creating high-quality content that can provide value to your audience rather than whipping out a large volume of low-quality pieces. Valuable content will attract and retain more leads and build lasting relationships with your audience.
  2. Tell a compelling story: Craft engaging narratives that connect with your audience emotionally. Storytelling helps humanize your brand, making it more relatable and memorable to prospects and clients.
  3. Optimize for search engines: Implement SEO best practices like using relevant keywords, optimizing meta tags, and ensuring your website is mobile-friendly. This optimization will improve your search engine rankings and increase your content’s visibility.
  4. Personalize your content: Tailor your content to address your target audience’s unique needs and preferences. Personalized content demonstrates that you understand your audience, resulting in stronger connections and improved engagement.
  5. Use data-driven insights: Leverage data and analytics to inform your content marketing decisions. Analyze your content’s performance, audience behavior, and industry trends to create content that resonates with your target market.
  6. Repurpose and update existing content: Maximize your content’s value by repurposing successful pieces into different formats, e.g., turning a blog post into a video or infographic. Frequently update your content to ensure it remains relevant and accurate.
  7. Leverage user-generated content: Encourage your clients and partners to create testimonials, case studies, and guest posts. User-generated content adds credibility and authenticity to your brand while providing fresh perspectives for your audience.
  8. Collaborate with influencers: Partner with industry influencers, thought leaders, and experts to co-create content. These collaborations can expand your reach, boost your credibility, and provide valuable insights to your audience.
  9. Test and experiment: Continuously test different content types, topics, and distribution channels to determine what works best for your audience. Remain flexible and willing to adapt your strategy based on your findings.
  10. Promote content consistently: Share and promote your content across various channels, including online communities, email marketing, and social media. Consistent promotion ensures your content reaches a broader audience and increases its impact.
  11. Use a ghost writer: leaders often have many ideas and unique points of view but lack the time to write an editorially relevant piece. Or perhaps they would should be writing a book. Either way, ghostwriting is a perfectly acceptable tool for busy CEOs and executives to develop a notable presence in a competitive B2B industry or environment.

 

Aligning Your B2B Content Marketing Strategy with Sales

One of the keys to a very successful B2B content marketing strategy is to align your content creation efforts with your sales goals. Here’s how you can achieve this alignment:

  1. Collaborate with the sales team: Regularly communicate with your sales team to understand their challenges, objections they face, and the questions prospects ask. Use this data to create content that addresses these concerns and helps move prospects through the sales funnel.
  2. Create sales-enablement content: Develop resources like case studies, whitepapers, and product comparison sheets that the sales team can use to support their sales conversations and demonstrate the value of your offerings.
  3. Align content with buyer’s journey stages: Ensure your content addresses prospects’ needs at every step of the buyer’s journey, from consideration and awareness to decision and post-purchase.
  4. Use content to nurture leads: Implement a lead nurturing strategy that uses personalized content to engage and educate leaders, building trust and moving them closer to conversion.

Leveraging Social Media for B2B Content Marketing Success

Social media platforms offer excellent opportunities to amplify your B2B content marketing strategy. These few tips can help you make the most of your social media presence:

  1. Choose the right platforms: Focus on the social media platforms that are most relevant to your industry and target audience. LinkedIn, for example, is an excellent platform for B2B businesses. At the same time, Twitter and Facebook can also be effective, depending on your niche.
  2. Share valuable content: Post a mix of your original and curated content from reputable sources to provide value and variety to your audience. This approach demonstrates your industry expertise and keeps your followers engaged.
  3. Engage with your audience: Respond to comments, answer questions, and participate in industry-related discussions to build relationships and establish trust with your followers.
  4. Promote thought leadership: Share insights, opinions, and expert advice on industry trends and challenges to reinforce your brand’s thought leadership position.
  5. Leverage hashtags and groups: Use relevant hashtags and join industry-specific groups to expand your reach and connect with potential clients and partners.
  6. Monitor analytics: Regularly analyze your social media performance to identify which content types and topics resonate most with your audience. Use these insights to refine your social media content strategy.

 

The Video’s Role Successful Storytelling

Videos have become an increasingly popular and effective content format for B2B businesses. Here’s why incorporating videos into your B2B content marketing strategy can be beneficial:

  1. Increased engagement: Videos are more engaging and more accessible to consume than text-based content. They can effectively communicate complex information in a shorter amount of time and hold your audience’s attention.
  2. Improved retention: Studies have shown that people retain information best when presented in a visual format like video. This improved retention can lead to better brand recall and higher conversion rates.
  3. Stronger emotional connection: Videos uniquely evoke emotions and create a more personal relationship with your audience, fostering trust and loyalty.
  4. Boosted SEO: Search engines prioritize video content, making it more likely for your website to appear in search results when you include videos.

B2B Content PR Strategy: The Long-Term Benefits

Implementing a well-rounded B2B content marketing strategy drives not only immediate results but also offers long-term benefits for your business:

  1. Evergreen content: High-quality, informative content can drive traffic and generate leads long after publication, offering lasting value and contributing to your business’s growth.
  2. Scalability: As your business expands, your content marketing efforts can scale accordingly, providing consistent results at varying levels of investment.
  3. Continuous improvement: By tracking your content’s performance and optimizing your strategy, you can continuously refine your approach and improve your results.
  4. Brand equity: A strong content marketing strategy builds your brand’s reputation and equity, providing a competitive advantage in the market.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does a B2B content marketing strategy differ from a B2C strategy?

While B2B and B2C content marketing strategies aim to create and distribute valuable content, their target audiences and goals differ. B2B strategies provide in-depth, informative content for business decision-makers, while B2C strategies aim to entertain and engage individual consumers.

What is a B2B content marketing plan?

A B2B content marketing plan is a documented outline of your content marketing strategy.

It typically includes your goals, target audience, content formats, distribution channels, and a content calendar. This plan is a roadmap for your content marketing efforts and helps ensure consistency and efficiency.

How can I work with a B2B content marketing agency?

B2B content marketing agencies specialize in creating and executing content marketing strategies for businesses targeting other businesses. To work with an agency, start by researching potential partners, reviewing their portfolios, and understanding their expertise. Once you’ve selected an agency, collaborate closely with them to develop a content marketing plan tailored to your goals and audience.

How do I measure the success of my B2B content marketing strategy?

For you to measure the success of your content marketing strategy, track relevant Key Performance Indicators or KPIs that align with your goals. Common KPIs include website traffic, social media engagement, lead generation, and conversion rates. Use analytics tools to monitor these metrics and optimize your strategy accordingly.

Conclusion

There you have it! You can elevate your business to a new height with a well-crafted B2B content marketing strategy. Following our outlined steps and incorporating best practices, you’ll create compelling content that resonates with your audience, generates leads, and fosters lasting relationships.

It’s time to let your content shine and watch your business take flight. The sky’s the limit!

What do Jack Welch, Stephen R. Covey, and Richard Branson all have in common? Well, besides being some of the best-known business leaders in the world, they’ve all used ghostwriters. Hmmm…could there be a connection between those two things? Almost certainly. Why? Because executives have a lot on their plate, and to stay ahead and run competitive companies, they need to stay at the 100,000-foot level. This elevated perspective often makes executives great thinkers but poor writers. And that’s OK. In fact, it’s expected. As many as 60% of nonfiction books are supported by ghostwriters. Ghostwriters articulate the grand ideas of thought leaders. So what does a ghostwriter do for you and how can executives use a ghostwriter? Consider these 3 reasons every CEO needs a ghostwriter.

CEOs: Publish or Perish

It used to be that only academics were expected to publish ideas, and CEOs were exempt from that expectation; today, CEOs truly need a ghostwriter to fulfill content expectations.

Despite the dearth of content out there, stakeholders from your board, investors, and even customers expect CEOs to lead, and part of leadership today is sharing original thoughts. Now, notice this does not mean that you must post on Instagram every day, and it doesn’t even mean you need to post on LinkedIn every day. It does mean that you must create thoughtful, original content regularly. Good news, a ghostwriter can help you with that. Ghostwriters have two very particular skills: listening and extracting. For ghostwriters to be successful, they sometimes need to ask probing questions and articulate the idea in the originator’s voice. So help your ghostwriter help you. Sit down with them and share ideas, let them see inside your point of view, and your ghostwriter will come up with a consistent stream of ideas from a few hours together.

Watch What You Say: Platform and PR

As a thought leader, publish your ideas consistently. Sometimes that may be on a platform you can control – like your corporate website or even Medium. Which platform you choose will depend on your thought leadership strategy. For example, if the CEO’s job is to secure investment, then Medium.com is a great place to publish, it’s still a Silicon Valley content darling, even after all these years. But if the executive wants to be seen as hip but accessible, perhaps as part of a larger corporate branding initiative, then a Substack newsletter might be more appropriate. If the CEO is creating commentary on something currently in the news, then a contribution to an industry vertical or a national newspaper could be in order. It’s important that the platform strategy be part of the ghostwriter’s process so they can take into account not only the CEO’s voice, but the culturally accepted tone within the platform or outlet.

A ghostwriter can help a CEO decide on platform and tone – just another reason every CEO needs a ghostwriter.

 

Fill Up the Trust Bucket

It’s no secret that CEOs have a spotlight on them like never, as do their companies, this a truly compelling reason why an executive should use a ghostwriter. Over the years, we’ve seen thousands of CEO apologies on almost as many platforms. Not all apologies are created equally and not all crisis responses are the same, each situation is truly different. But, for a CEO who is comfortable with a ghostwriter, an apology can be a much easier, and faster process. Like anything, when there is a relationship, the ghostwriter can be a critical partner to the CEO, and the PR agency tasked with developing a response or apology. Having a trusted ghostwriter not only helps in a crisis, but they may also help reduced the severity of the crisis because the CEO’s thought leadership has lead to increased trust in the CEO and the brand. And nowhere is trust more important than an unpredicted crisis.

 

At Avaans PR, we offer thought leadership programs as part of our bespoke PR programs, but also as a stand-alone option with our thought leadership PR program. We offer this as a stand-alone program because we know every CEO needs a ghostwriter and a strong PR strategy for thought leadership.

Because of the competitive nature of customer acquisition, hyper-growth DTC (D2C) brands are always looking for ways to improve word of mouth and awareness. So it’s no surprise that a lot of fast-growing DTC brands of all sizes are asking, “should we join the metaverse?” The answer to should DTC brands join the metaverse naturally depends on several external factors. From an awareness and PR perspective, there are some considerations before DTC brands joining the metaverse.

What Have You Learned From Watching Other Brands?

Brands like Nike, Warner Brothers, Gucci, and Wendy’s are already in the metaverse. Have you watched these brands closely and experienced their ventures? CMOs and founders intrigued by the metaverse and its opportunities should be sure to sit back and watch a bit. What worked, what didn’t? What inspiration can you take from these digital experiences? Notice many of these ventures are co-branded, which is a great way to double the potential audience size – so what partnerships would enhance the digital introduction of your DTC brand? Gamers are already intimately familiar with NFTs and Virtual goods, so what games appeal to your audience? From breakfast cereal to gaming super powers to fashion add-ons there truly are endless ways for DTC brands to join the metaverse.

Have You Tried Virtual Goods Yet?

46% of consumers haven’t bought a virtual good yet because they don’t understand how it works and 35% might try it if it comes from a brand they trust (full report here). Those two considerations are a lot to unpack. But if your customers are curious early adopters, AND they trust your DTC brand, a great way to test the waters is to experiment with virtual goods (NFTs) like music, memes, or even artwork.

If your customers are curious, but midrange adopters, maybe you set the stage and start educating your consumers a bit, adding to that trust bucket so when the day comes for your brand to fully invest, your customers are ready to come on the journey with you. . The key to intriguing your customers to start their virtual good collection is to pair it with another passion or interest. Virtual goods like avatars or virtual event tickets are easy enough to understand to most consumers, even if they aren’t ready to use them or engage with them yet.

There’s a tremendous value in being the trusted brand that takes your customers by the hand to introduce them to the digital landscape that will make social media look like a flash in the pan.

What Will You DO Once You Get to the Metaverse?

With something like the metaverse, the end goal isn’t to BE there, it’s to activate there. Given that for most consumers, the metaverse is just some vague notion they don’t know how to even access, you’ll need to take stock of where this lands on your priority list. If your customers aren’t in the 18-34 age range of typical NFT purchasers, then this is a pretty big consideration.

Now, if your only goal is to be an early mover, and you have the bandwidth, that is the financial and team resources to do so, by all means, go for it, it’s an interesting brand move right now and it may even get you some press. Media coverage over brands with placement in the metaverse won’t garner attention for long – the metaverse will be as common as having a website and social media. And yet, even now, simply being in the metaverse itself doesn’t garner media attention. You’ll want to activate in some interesting, notable way. The options are endless, but keep in mind that your audience is likely to be small, but starting with a metaverse experience is a great way for the brand and its customers to connect in the virtual world.

 

The “Ready Player One” vision of the metaverse isn’t quite here yet. For one, adoption hasn’t reached a tipping point yet, but it won’t be long. Today’s consumers are now used to moving into new platforms every few years and the metaverse will follow a similar trend of other platforms: younger people will start, but soon their parents will follow, then their parent’s friends. Instagram was the domain of the youthful for a long time, then its users expanded; for TikTok that process was much faster some of the most vibrant TikTok hashtags belong to GenX, and they’re in their 50’s already. The metaverse is coming, tomorrow’s brand will be there.

As a digitally forward PR firm, we can help you maximize the digital world. Give us a call. 

When the economy is unpredictable, it’s challenging to plan. Yet, plan you must. Even when you love your PR and marketing agency, during these times, it’s tempting to cut marketing and PR budgets. I know both sides of this fence. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 75% of my career, including during 9/11, The Great Recession, and the Covid-19 pandemic. Having witnessed the fallout from slashed budgets, I’ve learned that taking your foot off the gas doesn’t slow the engine. It kills it. You can’t eliminate marketing and increase sales. What you DO need to do is shift marketing strategies. These 4 ways to save on your agency budget will ensure you gain or maintain valuable market share while reducing marketing and PR agency fees

If you like your marketing or PR agency, keep them. You can negotiate with your existing agency; hiring a new agency has hidden costs. Eliminating a well-oiled, top-rated agency will cost you productivity and results when you need it most. If things are going well, check out our advice from leading agency owners about reducing your agency budgets. If you’re hiring a new agency, these tips will help you get off to a great start and a budget that allows for growth while you work efficiently with your new agency.

 

1. Content: Make It Sticky

When times are good, brands with ambitious goals do whatever they can to get meaningful results faster. But if you’re reducing budgets, you should focus on the longer-lasting things. As a colleague of mine once said, “I don’t know why everyone wants to go viral. I want my content to be cancer. I want it to stick around and be hard to get rid of.” This is the mindset to be in when trying to reduce costs.

Two types of media stick around forever: owned media and earned media. Your owned media is any channel you control, where create 100% of the content, like your blog or your email marketing. Your earned media appears on channels you don’t control or create, think magazine articles, and (organic) reviews.

Blog posts and earned media are the superglue of sticky marketing and PR levers. Because they DO last so long, and they are customer-facing, these are excellent areas to focus your PR agency on. The ROI will pay dividends now and in the future. 

There’s a third blend of content emerging – and that’s contributed content. Sometimes there are fees associated with contributed content, and it always goes through editorial control, but it is a highly credible way for you to (mostly) control the messaging. This type of content has another advantage: thought leadership. Activating your thought leadership is key to its stickiness.

But longevity is only one benefit of this content; repurposing is another. For example, blog posts that are listicles are excellent SEO boosters, and you can use a listicle to generate many social media posts, same with an article that includes your product.

You want your stickiest content to be the best quality. If you’re reducing your budgets in other areas, now is not the time to hire an untested blogger referred to you by your nephew. Now is the time to focus your budget on doing what you do well. Very well.

Highly useful, sticky content is the most valuable and should be a budget priority.

2. Strategically Reduce the Scope

Chances are your agency is providing you with a suite of services. Instead of eliminating high-value output, focus your budget on those items to reduce your scope.

Take a deeper look at what your agency did this year that worked for you. How did they excel? While you’re asking yourself this question, think about it in the “Make it Sticky” content but also in the areas where narrowing in on the scope would provide outsized value.

One way to secure high-value PR is product-driven PR and bringing thought leadership and awards programs in-house, or vice-versa. 

Another idea, instead of working with 15 different micro-influencers, you work with one on a strategic year-long campaign. Maybe your branding company could produce long-form content only and you can craft social media posts in-house.

Instead of a campaign every quarter, work with your agency to develop one excellent, well-thought-out campaign throughout the year and focus your efforts on making that campaign exceptional. This brings me to my final recommendation. 

Another area that can save your money is fewer meetings with your agency. While meetings are essential, especially early in the relationship, this area could drive some savings if you’ve been with your agency for a while. 

3. Plan Ahead

Nothing is more expensive than last-minute. If you’re reducing your budget, planning can save you a lot of money. For example, if you’re planning on a video shoot, secure your videographers and editors well in advance with a solid deposit and you’ll find it easier to negotiate the rate.

The same goes for your agency contract. Sign early regardless of whether it’s a new-to-you agency or one you’ve had for a while. Signing early gives you an edge in negotiation. If you like your agency and you will commit to a longer term, you’ll be able to command better rates, and even lock in “economic downturn” rates for two years.

Press releases can be purchased in bulk as well. So if you’re planning on several announcements, if you buy in advance, you can save thousands of dollars. 

4. Strategy: When They Zig, You Should Zag

To save money and get more bang for your buck, redefine your calendar. Shy away from the dates and times of the year when your competitor is most likely to do something, and instead select a campaign period when you can own the conversation.

Alternatively, re-thing your share of voice KPI. When dominance is your key strategy, you want to track it against your biggest aspirational competitors. If simply staying present is your goal, track your share of voice against a competitor nipping at your heels, one who is your peer and one who is aspirational. For your aspirational competitors, your strategy should be to cede some of your share of voice so you can squeeze in on your competitor’s territory. For your peers, you want to maintain equal, if not better, footing, and for the one nipping at your heels, you want to own the conversation so they don’t squeeze in on yours.

5. Maximize Partnerships and Internal Initiatives

Now is a great time to double down on successful partnerships or find new ways to align for new partnerships. Be creative in the ways you align, and you may be able to create a news worthy story just by creating a collaboration. Another way to maximize your budget is to turn your storytelling focus on highly valued stories the media is already writing about, like purpose-driven initiatives. These types of stories are much easier to get a lift on than the traditional “thought leadership” strategy that most of your competitors will flock to.

Reducing your agency costs doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Working WITH your agency to find the sweet spot for your specific needs can be an excellent exercise in creativity. By shifting strategies, outcomes, and outputs, you can find the sweet spot that keeps your marketing and PR on track even during cost-cutting seasons.