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August 19, 2016

Team Member Renee Spurling

Renee Spurlin


Executive Vice President

I recently wrote an article published on PRDaily regarding the convergence of marketing and PR. As most online articles do these days, it issued an array of amusing and telling responses. The post, on how PR practitioners can provide even more value to their organizations by better aligning with marketing, elicited two primary response types: 1) “Well, of course. Shouldn’t PR practitioners be doing this already?” (short answer: no, as evidenced by the other, more frequent, responses). 2) Others thought I was calling for the eradication of PR as we know it – that PR can’t be held accountable to marketing and sales. So, while I intended to write this post about lead nurturing (and we will get there shortly, I promise), I want to take a step back and address why we would even be talking about lead nurturing on a PR agency blog in the first place.


There’s no better place to start than the fundamentals. What do you think of when you think PR? For many businesses, it’s media relations. But PR is so much more than that – it’s investor relations, analyst relations, government relations, community relations, employee relations and the list goes on. Are you starting to notice a theme here? That’s right: Relations. PR is fundamentally about building relationships. And what does it take to build relationships? It takes two-way conversation. It takes listening – not just talking. And it takes time. Funny, that sounds a lot like lead nurturing (if it’s done right) to me. What I’m saying is this: lead generation and nurturing are natural extensions of the relationship building that PR is best at.

So, with that context in mind, let’s talk more about lead nurturing. Lead nurturing is all about building a relationship with prospects throughout their buyers’ journeys and decision-making processes. It’s about listening to their problems and needs. It’s about being responsive, and providing them what they need when they need it. No doubt, the ultimate goal of lead nurturing is closing the sale, but there are many more benefits – benefits that should speak to the heart of PR.

Lead Nurturing 101

Great content is at the heart of a solid lead nurturing program – providing people with value through case studies, decision guides, thought leadership, etc. – and PR is king when it comes to content! This makes lead nurturing is a prime brand-building tool. It sets the tone of your communication style and communicates your core values. Plus, it can build brand ambassadors, even from non-customers.

So, how exactly do we nurture leads? First and foremost, we must approach it as relationship building. By learning more and more about our prospects, we can meet them where they are in their buyers’ journeys and be a part of their processes along the way. Here are a few best practices:

  • Skip the small talk – Going over the basics, like features and functionality, will only get you so far with a potential lead. Instead, talk to them about what matters – how you can help them solve a problem. That’s the key to showing you truly understand them and, ultimately, closing a sale.

  • Don’t talk too much about yourself – Like the rules for any good conversation, listening and understanding the other person is key. So instead of listing off your litany of accomplishments and company history, share more about what you know about your prospects. What problems have you seen similar companies face? How did they solve these problems? Case studies are a great resource here.

  • Learn, learn, learn – The goal of a nurture program isn’t just about closing deals, it’s also about collecting the information you need in order to give your prospects what they need. What questions do you need answers to? What will the prospects action, or inaction, tell you about their needs? And how will you use it going forward?

  • Use what you know – You wouldn’t start a conversation with your neighbor from scratch every time – as if you know nothing about them. Treat prospects similarly – building on previous information and actions. It may start small and simple, like inserting their first name into an email, but as time goes on, you can tailor your communication more and more. If you know that the lead visited a certain page on your website or downloaded a certain white paper, address it, and in your next communication, build on the themes of that content.

  • Humanize your communication – Prospects don’t want to have conversations with computers or corporations. People should power your nurture campaigns – with a real person sending emails, tweets and other forms of communication, prospects can have meaningful, two-way conversations versus communicating with generic sales or info contacts. Be sure your nurturing program also includes live touch points, such as phone calls, live chats and social responses.

Silverpop is a prime example of engaging, relational lead nurturing. I’m passionate about email marketing, and Silverpop puts out premier content on this topic. Though I didn’t have the budget for Silverpop at the time, I downloaded multiple white papers and watched product demos – certainly flagging me as a lead in its system. The company and its sales team sent me future white papers via personal LinkedIn notes, engaged with me on Twitter, sent me regular nurturing emails and more. As a result, I’m a huge Silverpop brand ambassador. Even though I’m not a customer, I’ll happily refer them to others, share Silverpop content, etc.

In sum, taking cues from PR and treating lead nurturing as relationship building can not only improve sales, but also create lifetime brand ambassadors. Contact us to learn more.