Most people old enough to be in senior management roles today know the slogan ‘Let your fingers do the walking’. It did wonders for promoting Yellow Pages and joined the advertising hall of fame back in 2002. But how about ‘Let your clients do the talking’? Nope, that doesn’t resonate quite so loudly does it? But it should, because credible endorsements from others are one of the most potent sales tools in B2B marketing, especially if you’re selling professional services. PR professionals call this ‘third party endorsement’ (TPE) and, well managed, it can win you business, forge alliances, improve recruitment and retention, and help in a multitude of other reputation-enhancing ways too.
TPE is so powerful because it responds to a basic psychological need. In business – indeed in life in general – when presented with an important choice, dilemma or problem, we tend to look around us to see what others in the same circumstances have done.
Even if we already have a good idea about the appropriate course of action, we still tend to look for external validation of that choice. Both scenarios present management with an opportunity for their firm to be seen as the best choice of solution provider. Here’s another very good reason why TPE is valuable in marketing terms. Journalists will be much more interested in your story ideas if they are ‘client-told’ as opposed to stories told purely by the firm. Good journalists will instinctively seek out independent validation and evidence when presented with a claim. It’s part of their training to be cynical.
They also know that good stories need tangible examples readers can relate to in a meaningful way. They want drama, personality and, even in dry business publications these days, a little entertainment. Because journalists are more time-pressed than ever before, if you feed them your choicest case study morsels, chances are they’ll bite your hand off.
So, by exploiting TPE, you’ll be benefiting from powerfully-told endorsements of your services and expertise, and pushing against an open door when your PR team contact the media. Why then, are more firms not making the most of such a great opportunity? That’s something I’ll cover in a forthcoming post.