Leveraging SKOs to Benefit Your PR/Marketing Program

Leveraging SKOs to Benefit Your PR/Marketing Program

By Peggy Tierney Galvin, Force4 Technology Communications 

At the start of each fiscal year, a sales team (or teams) comes together to set their goals for the coming year in a sales kickoff (SKO). They also determine the key performance indicators (KPIs) for those goals, along with which types of companies they will be targeting (what size, what market, what region, etc.). SKOs are also opportunities for training on new products, services and sales tools, teambuilding, and process improvement. 

As a marketing leader, none of this is news to you. But your team might not have worked in a marketing organization that has partnered with an SKO event. Or maybe they are new to the marketing role, or perhaps marketing was siloed from sales in other companies they worked for. But it’s important to get your team aligned with what SKOs are and understand how the marketing organization can use SKOs to ensure they’re hitting their own marketing KPIs at the end of the quarter. In this article, we share an overview of the SKO from the marketing perspective so marketing leaders can align any SKO neophytes on their team to the benefits of getting involved and staying involved with sales. 

SKOs are for everyone! 

How are SKOs helpful when kicking off other downstream marketing activities? The marketing organization can use the goals shared at the SKO to adjust their own goals, making sure that marketing’s objectives are directly in support of those on the sales side. Because the sales organization sets its goals for the year at the SKO, along with the audiences and personas it is targeting as purchase influencers, the SKO is an extremely helpful event for downstream marketing activities. 

Your team can accurately apportion its efforts to ensure a proportionate output of events, content, PR and collateral for each audience. They can look at their events calendar with new insight and get highly specific about which events will have the most impact for generating the leads and partner/customer meetings the sales and business development teams are looking to secure. They can benchmark the year with these plans and activities, with the goal of supporting successful attainment of the overall corporate goals by the end of the year. 

A symbiotic relationship 

It’s also a great opportunity to spotlight recent marketing and PR successes and KPIs that your team will be mapping to for greater visibility throughout the company. SKOs help define marketing and PR objectives at the start of the year, and by doing so, aid the sales team from the top to the bottom of the sales funnel. Companies can increase their online presence by improving credibility and awareness with the target audience identified at SKOs. Let’s look at how this affects each stage of the funnel to connect the dots for the marketing plan. 

Top-of-funnel: A consistent PR program produces awareness and increases demand. As the PR team gains media coverage, organic web searches will bring up those articles. These articles then provide third-party credibility and help to build prestige backlinks from media websites. This increases direct, organic and referral traffic to your website over time. 

Mid-funnel: PR produces content to underscore key benefits of your product or service and highlight customer successes. Validation and credibility increase with more endorsements from the media and positive coverage by industry analysts and pundits. Though ads and advertorials have their value, earned media coverage provides the kind of third-party validation and credibility that prospects are looking for.  

Sales and marketing teams can use feature articles, thought leadership bylined articles and case studies in the mid-funnel phase. This includes conferences, trade shows and meetings, and via marketing initiatives such as emails and webinars. They can also use earned media coverage to approach prospects and encourage them toward the bottom of the funnel. 

Bottom-of-funnel: When prospects see media coverage from a reputable publication, they understand that your business is worthy of their attention. PR efforts continue to generate buzz and to fortify the purchase decision, positioning your enterprise for future cross–sell/upsell opportunities.   

If you want to highlight industry dominance and expertise in a specific interest area, laying a foundation of strong messaging about your product and its capabilities from the start is paramount. By doing so, when a prospect is comparing product offerings, your reputation should speak for itself and transform that prospect into a buyer.  

Creating a well-defined plan 

It may seem like business as usual for marketing leaders like you, but sales kickoff (SKO) meetings provide the opportunity to define targets and tactics for the broader marketing team. 

By encouraging your team to put together an integrated marketing plan that anticipates and works with SKO activities and goals, better teamwork between sales and marketing can make a bigger impact early in the first quarter. And that positions your team to keep winning throughout the rest of the year.  

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