How to Get B2B Clients to Start Talking to Reporters
Without this, Wonder Woman apologizes for your weak PR program
I’m going to tell you something for your own good. Nine times out of ten, reporters want to speak with your clients over you. No offense.
Accept this: Media wants to hear use cases about your thingy kabob from the people using it.
Realize that if you want to maximize PR efforts, it is up to you to keep satisifed clients in a "stable" that will communicate with journalists. In B2B marketing in 2023, having customer evangelists is essential and will soon be considered standard practice.
Adding clients into the PR mix
There’s a gap to fill between ‘happy clients’ and ‘vocal clients’. Making this happen requires two techniques, not a dentist.
At every B2B company, the path to finding and producing talkative clients is different. Sometimes it means the marketing lead works *cough*, err, prods Customer Success in Slack and email or taps a founder who “owns” client relationships. The latter is what I call “founder gates.”
Below are two proven ways to turn satisfied clients into media-facing (super)heroes.
1. Learn their motive
Most B2B customers want something in return. Some want free dev hours or a discount on a SaaS solution. They may want to package their successes with a vendor to land a new job. Whatever it is, a B2B marketer has to identify it.
Time and time again, I’ve had clients of my clients tell me on 1:1 calls they want a new job, and they see how a media interview would help them get in front of employers. Boom! I didn’t have to tell them why talking to a reporter would be wise.
And look what I, an external partner, found out: a customer contact may leave. This is invaluable info for my clients to hear. Now they know to quickly build a warm relationship with another person inside the company just in case this person leaves.
You can’t have too many internal champions in B2B.
2. Stroke their ego
Every B2B company has at least one customer with an ego. That is both a blessing and a curse, so let's be positive and concentrate on the blessing side of things.
In B2B marketing, sometimes this process starts with highlighting a customer in a customer-facing newsletter or a “best of” blog post. The goal is for them to feel special before a media-related query. Sweeten the deal like…
A second way to approach this is to begin looking at customer output. B2B marketers can ping Product or Customer Success teams to learn which customers are power users (AKA huge fans of a solution). Go from there.
Sometimes when a B2B company tells a customer they’re doing something amazing with their platform or tool, they are wowed. If a B2B business hasn't created a branded community where customers meet and collaborate with one another, how would a customer know?
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Move fast with caution
When I build PR programs for B2B companies, a timeline normally includes rolling out two satisfied clients per quarter. IMHO, you shouldn’t plan past a quarter for three reasons:
Client may be unhappy then
Client may not be a client then (chalk it up to churn)
Client’s recent success story may be old by then like 👇👇👇
Cry with me
Recently a client presented me with a happy client (consumer brand). I rejoiced, then asked, “how many interviews do you think they’d want to do?”
Client: “As many as you can.”
Me: “You said you asked the client? OK.”
I pitched multiple outlets. I secured four interviews. Big win, right?
To the surprise of my client, not me, the client came back around and said they’ll commit to just one interview. I picked what I felt was the most important trade magazine and we locked in a call. The brand chose a date three weeks away. Ugh. The reporter asked to speak to them sooner.
Brand contact: “I can’t move it up. I’m busy.”
Reporter: “Brands being "unavailable' for weeks is frankly bullshit. If they want to talk, a 20 min call by or before Monday would suffice. Otherwise I have no interest in waiting weeks on this.”
Repeatedly confirm the expectations of clients
Let them know multiple reputations are on the line