About Praxis

Praxis Communications, a full-service, business-to-business marketing communications firm, can manage your entire marketing program from beginning to end, or just specific elements of it, as your budget dictates.

The experienced Praxis team is skilled in solving marketing challenges and generating more brand awareness and sales leads for clients in the power, process, life sciences and industrial marketplaces.

Through a range of tactics, we create intelligent interactive solutions to help our clients build awareness, drive web traffic and generate more leads. Our work is highly creative, so it not only gets attention, it gets results!

About Praxis

We like to think of ourselves as the thinking person's B2B agency. While other shops tout their creativity, to us, that's really only half the story.

The other half is what's really essential to your business:
Getting prospects in the door and turning them into customers.

If this sounds a lot like sales, you're not far off. To us, there's no big disconnect between marketing and sales. Marketing leads the horse to water, sales makes him drink.

How many visitors come to your website every month? Of those, how many send you an inquiry?

How can you get more traffic to your site? How can you convert more visitors to leads?

If you can't make heads or tails of the analytics; if you're paying a lot for clicks but aren't getting the conversions you expect; you're right to assume there's something missing – some visitor psychology you're not quite getting, some usability feature not quite clicking.

With Praxis as your marketing partner, all of these elements will work together, so you can achieve the results you desire, rather than having to settle for what you're currently getting.

Work with us any way you want: As marketing consultants; for concepts that attract attention or soup-to-nuts strategic support; to fix some broken projects or to connect the dots from ad to inquiry.

And if you want really good creative, the kind that moves people to action, with messaging that resonates with B2B audiences, Praxis is your kind of agency. Since 1979, Praxis has been moving prospects just like yours from bystanders to buyers.

About Praxis

At Praxis, we specialize in the unique communications objectives of technical and industrial marketers. Our client experience encompasses a wide range of industries including:

  • Chemicals
  • Engineering
  • Enviromental
  • Food & Beverage
  • HVAC
  • Information Technology
  • Instrumentation
  • Life Sciences
  • Material Handling
  • Pharmaceutical Equipment
  • Plastics
  • Power & Process
  • Professional Services
  • Semiconductor
  • Thermal Processing
  • Utilities

About Praxis

Praxis White Papers: Shelling Out Advice For B2B Marketers
The world of interactive marketing is constantly changing. What works today, may not work tomorrow. In our continual efforts to find and utilize effective techniques for our clients, we've compiled some useful white papers that we invite you to print out and pass around.

Integrated Marketing For Long Term Prosperity
By Alan W. Gladish, President, Praxis Communications, Inc.

I've spent the better part of the past 35 years of my life in industry, first as a principal for a machinery manufacturer, then running a marketing/advertising agency serving industrial clients. In that time I've learned a thing or two about marketing and advertising for business-to-business clients.

The right approach seems obvious now, but until several years ago, we did not work strategically for our accounts. Instead, we reacted to what our clients asked us to do. And we did a pretty good job, considering the objectives of each tactic. However, Project A seldom correlated with Projects B, C, or D, resulting with each discrete activity (advertising, brochure, trade show, etc.) not pulling any relative value from the work applied to its sister activities. No integration meant that we had to re-invent each tactic on its own merits, rather than consider the powerful influence of the total marketing program and all the media.

There's a lot of talk these days about strategic planning. Is this some Whartonian concept strictly for academics, or is it a realistic activity that can help your business grow?

The best way to describe strategy is simply to say "plan." Once you get past all the rhetoric, that's all we're talking about. Nevertheless, few companies actually plan a year or more ahead. Business owners look for financial performance by the quarter, rather than build equity over the long haul. Marketing directors want the greatest number of qualified leads from each exposure, rather than considering the total effect of their branding opportunity.

Today's quick turnaround and ambitious performance expectations seem to have eclipsed the tried-and-true methods employed in the day when marketing experts utilized the power of a strong brand. They used a simple, yet memorable message to enhance awareness and build brand preference over time. Of course, nothing is as simple as it appears. Indeed, the people who branded Xerox and Band Aid – two of the most well known brand icons of the 20th century – are considered genius in the advertising world today. Most importantly, it takes an understanding of the power of branding plus commitment and consistency to achieve success.

If you think this only works in consumer markets, think again. When we decided, several years ago, to work with our clients on a long-term strategic relationship, we used as the basis of our plans an activity called positioning. For each of our clients, it gave us an opportunity to research precisely what strengths the company had compared to their competition. For most of these clients, we already had a prior relationship as their advertising agency, but we were surprised with some of the new perceptions gained from the situation analysis.

So, what's different today? By positioning our clients, based on their relevant differentiated benefits, and through careful planning and a strategically defined creative approach, each client is experiencing positive results. We're meeting bottom line objectives for inquiry generation and awareness building for some, and strengthening brand preference with others, allowing them to command better margins on their products. What we're NOT doing is reacting to the crisis du jour. We have done this because we used what we learned from positioning (an internal discipline) and applied it to the activity of branding (an external communications technique).

Sounds logical, right? Then, why don't more business executives make commitments to long-term plans and fund them appropriately to meet their objectives? Because, I presume, executives today think they can get more cost control of their marketing activities by keeping their options open and reacting to short-term marketing opportunities, rather than by sticking to a single, strong positioning for several years. In fact, the reverse proves true. Ad hoc activities usually cost considerably more than those mapped out in advance. The cost of day-to-day management in human resources usually runs higher. Better to settle that ahead of time and apply those costs to potentially more useful activities.

It's Marketing 101, but it seems so foreign to current trends. Here's our 7-step approach for achieving our clients' goals:

  1. Perform a thorough situation analysis to evaluate current perceptions.
  2. Establish a unique positioning platform to capitalize on the company's strengths.
  3. Determine the company's long-term marketing communications objectives.
  4. Determine an annual budget to fund the program.
  5. Develop the correct creative strategy to deliver the message (branding.)
  6. Implement the program using a 12-month spreadsheet of activities.
  7. Evaluate the program's effectiveness through analysis and adjust for the next annual period.

This approach, while logical, demands a giant leap of faith. We ask our clients to trust the judgments we make early in the program, before the possibility of evaluating any activities. But after a year's worth of consistently applying these principles, we know what works and what needs improvement. We continually learn more about how to effectively deliver that important positioning message to the audience. And over time, the prospect market gains a clearer, more focused understanding of how our clients' products or services can benefit them.

In addition to trusting the process, most companies have less than satisfactory relationships with their advertising agencies. So another big issue starts with trusting the agency in relation to making a long-term commitment. Typically, agency/client relationships are characterized by a push-pull dynamic. The agency tries its best to complete as many activities as it can (and bill the client for them), and the client continually attempts to nudge the agency towards a creative direction according to the opportunity of the day. Often, the time and energy expended struggling over the tactical approach and reconciling billing issues exceeds the focus on meeting objectives.

We've solved this problem by asking our clients to pay us a fixed annual fee for our services. We can do this because we've mapped out the plan a year ahead. We have an agreement in January on what we'll do in July. Of course, we can still capitalize on unanticipated opportunities, but the principle focus of our efforts remains on meeting the long-term objectives of the program. The fixed fee rarely changes month-to-month throughout the year. In the end, the client always gets more than he paid for. The advantage for everyone is the complete elimination of the adversarial relationship, and the freedom to become true advocates for our clients.

It should be said that this "leap of faith" is often very difficult, especially with an untried relationship. So we offer our new clients a way to date before we marry, by working with them on a single well-defined project or activity until we develop the trust necessary to take that leap. This may sound counterintuitive to a strategic approach, but it's realistic considering the long-term stakes.

Planning is hard work, make no mistake. We spend months evaluating lead data, investigating media editorial schedules, identifying on-going public relations opportunities, and assembling an integrated spreadsheet of activities every year. But the outcome of utilizing a strong marketing communications strategy always proves more powerful and effective than the sum of a non-integrated short-term approach.

Search Engine Marketing: The most targeted way to reach your audience
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has several popular definitions, but in a nut shell, it is the altering of a web site, web pages and web links to improve visibility, rank and relevance in the organic, crawler-based listings of search engines.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) on the other hand, can be defined as the process of paying search engines or directories to enhance a site's position. SEM can help web developers utilize advertising opportunities to increase frequency and rank with the search engines. However, developing a strategy to do this, and implementing that strategy can be a vexing task. To implement a successful search engine strategy, you must have a good understanding of what search engines, their users, and your customers are looking for and then build a comprehensive plan to satisfy their collective needs.

It is important to consider the use of both SEO and SEM to increase the regularity with which the search engines display your site. Each of these methods is not mutually exclusive, and a comprehensive approach to search engine strategy will incorporate elements of both.

Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of enhancing the content of your site for crawler-based search engines. SEO will increase your site's ranking in the organic results page. While it can take as long as 90 to 120 days to see results, it may be the most efficient way to ensure progress. While SEO is the starting point to acquiring better rankings, there are other actions you can take to keep your rankings high.

Web site owners spend significant time and resources to achieve better rankings even as the search engines change on a weekly, daily, even hourly basis. Strategies and resources need to be developed to constantly monitor your ranking.

An index of tactics used to increase SEO may include:

  • Competitive ranking analysis (using available software)
  • Relevant keyword analysis and selection
  • Title, meta tag and hyperlink optimization
  • Search engine-focused copywriting
  • Search engine-friendly code optimization
  • Paid inclusion and manual submissions to search engines

Search Engine Marketing
Search Engine Marketing (SEM), often referred to as Search Engine Advertising, is the process of buying keyword listings from the search engines themselves. Pay-per-click is perhaps the most popular form of SEM, where companies such as Google AdWords, FindWhat.com and Kanoodle.com will allow you to bid on pay-per-click rates for given searches. Here's how it works: a rate is set for keywords. Once a viewer clicks on the sponsored link, a deduction is taken from the sponsor's account.

Pay-per-click (PPC) generally involves:

  • Competitive bid analysis
  • Relevant keyword analysis and selection
  • Effective ad copy
  • Ad placement management
  • Bid management
  • Matching option selection
  • Monitoring results

Which form of Search Engine Strategy is best for you and your media plans?
Search Engine Optimization is a sub-set of Search Engine Marketing, so a complete SEM plan should always include SEO.

A comprehensive search engine marketing campaign contains the following functions:

  • Search engine optimization
  • Search engine and directory submission management
  • Paid inclusion and trusted feed programs
  • Pay-for-placement management (pay-per-click)
  • Link popularity / reputation development
  • ROI and performance monitoring and reporting

SEO can be done from out-of-pocket cost, but it requires time and attention to be effective. Properly planned and implemented, the results will be ongoing.

On the other hand, sponsored searches cost money, but you only pay for what you use. No matter where your web site shows up in the organic ranking, SEM will put you on the first page of the searches you purchase, giving you visibility when you really need it.

So what happens if you decide not to do either? Nothing. And that is exactly what you don't want. You are in a competitive arena. Market share is being won by the folks who take these steps everyday. Buyers who use the web will see your competition long before they see you. Is that acceptable?

A comprehensive search engine strategy can help you grow your brand equity, your sales and your bottom line. A good SEM partner can help you set goals, develop strategy, monitor rankings, and make adjustments as necessary. It's a continuing cycle with dividends that are well worth it.

Grab More Leads And Knock A Few Zeros Off Your Ad Budget With A Media Relations Program
What's the value of one full-page ad in the trade publication your prospective customers read most? Just throw out a number... $5,000? $7,500? $10,000? Chances are, if you advertise in that key publication, you know all too well the exact dollar value of one page.

But what if you could get the same space in that same magazine for a fraction of what you pay now?

By developing a consistent media relations program you can land an article or case study in a publication for far less than what you'd normally dish out for ad space. The only cost to you is the time it takes to develop a good story, pitch it, and follow up with editors (see "Grabbing An Editor's Ear" below).

And get this – editors at these publications are actually eager for relevant product information that will interest their readers. Convince the folks at the magazine that your product can increase productivity, reduce downtime, or lower operating costs and you're in. And the best part is, it doesn't cost a dime of media space!

Don't get us wrong. Advertsing will always have its place in a well-rounded marketing communications plan as a valuable image building tool. But dollar for dollar, when it comes to lead-generation and cost efficiency, nothing packs the wallop of a good media relations program.

Grabbing An Editor's Ear
Believe it or not, getting publicity isn't terribly difficult. Trade magazines are in the business of attracting subscribers. To do this, they must provide information and stories that are worth reading. Editors are in charge of finding those stories. And although most editors are very knowledgeable about their specific industry, they rely on insiders to alert them to newsworthy stories.

Sending a one-page summary of your story is typically the first step. Whether you explain how your product is setting a trend, describe a new innovation, or detail how you solved a unique problem, editors are hungry for stories.

What makes a good story? In a word, newsworthiness. Your story must be timely, relevant and, most important, of value to readers. The worst thing you can do is waste an editor's time by pitching a story that's not newsworthy to their publication. Do it enough and anything that comes across their desks from you will get placed in the circular file.

Following up on your story pitch is the second step to getting ink. Editors receive hundreds of story pitches each week and, though they may like yours, a phone conversation won't hurt to refresh their memory and clarify the value of your story to their readers. So you call and the editor likes your story and wants to run it. Gold star for you!

But who's going to write it?

Some trade magazines prefer to have their staff write the article. Put this editor on your holiday gift list. He's saving you a boatload of time. Provide contact information and access to company personnel or customers who are pertinent to the story. Also make sure you request the right to review the story for accuracy before it's printed.

Other publications may ask you to write it. Don't worry. This isn't a Pulitzer Prize contest. If Hemingway wrote his stories from a bar in Cuba, you can write a two-page article with a PC and a few cups of coffee. Don't worry about style. Just supply the basic information. The editor will handle the rest.

Once your article is printed, take advantage of the publicity. Get reprints or e-prints (an electronic version in PDF format) and spread the word. Send it to current customers. Show it to prospects. Post it on your website. And always share it with company employees. After all, they're the ones that created the product that made it all possible in the first place.

Generating press releases on a consistent basis can pay off in unexpected ways.
Press releases are the staple of any good media relations program. In the short term, they generate awareness for your products. Over the long haul, they build brand familiarity for your company.

As an example of short-term sales generation, consider the case of material handling equipment manufacturer W.A. Schmidt. "We sent out a press release about a product we rarely sold. The next month a 50-word blip, along with a photo, ran in a few of the industry pubs," recalled Kim Wanamaker, former V.P. of Marketing at W.A. Schmidt.

"We had six new orders within a week of its appearance in those magazines. And this is a product that rarely sold!" Sometimes a release happens to get ink in the same issue where you've placed a full-page ad about the product. In that instance, you reap the double benefits of an "unbiased" article and the "hardsell" ad to produce a spike in sales.

Occasionally a release generates absolutely no immediate response. That doesn't mean it isn't working. Say, for example, you announce the biggest contract ever signed by your company and you get nothing. No phone calls. No e-mails. No increase in hits to your website. Three months later, one of your sales reps is jubilant about an appointment he finally landed with a big prospect – the one your company has been aching to do business with. When asked why they finally granted an appointment, the company explains that they read about your contract with their competitors. The value of the press release you thought no one read now becomes the value of that big prospect.

Consistently seeing your company's name in key publications tells prospects and current customers that good things are always happening, be it new products, design improvements, contract announcements or personnel hires. What's important is that they become familiar with your name and associate it with success. And that familiarity – the kind that influences purchasing decisions – only comes through a consistent stream of press releases.

An Extra Pair Of Hands
Let's face it, you're only one person. And unless you, like Dolly the sheep, have British scientists create your clone in a petri dish, you might consider hiring an agency to handle your media relations program. "No, no," you say. "Those PR agencies are too expensive. I'm already working on a restricted budget." Bite your tongue. Agencies specializing in media relations programs for B2B companies can start as low as $1,500 per month.

Using an agency reduces the amount of time you and your staff spend trying to get publicity. A good agency will run with potential ideas and work behind the scenes to develop a story. Your role typically consists of three responsibilities:

  1. Providing background on new products, recent projects, innovative designs, etc.
  2. Access – providing contact information for staff and customers involved in the story.
  3. Approval – reviewing finished work for accuracy.

Take into account that agencies are familiar with the process of landing stories in trade pubs. They understand what editors want. And they know how to craft a story based on a publication's editorial preference. Agencies also have relationships already established with many of the same editors you'll be hoping to gain favor with.

If you have the time or additional staff to handle a media relations program on your own, go for it. Maximize the opportunity for free ink. But if you are already juggling too many responsibilities, an agency may be the smart move for helping you get more sales leads for less.

About Praxis

Engage. Captivate. Compete. Convert.
Praxis specializes in helping B2B marketers harness the power of the internet to brand and promote their business, gather more leads and generate more sales. We have the tools and expertise to create high-impact messages, navigate the constantly changing digital environment and get results. We can drive more traffic to our clients' web sites, employ site tactics to convert that traffic into leads, and turn bystanders into buyers. Here's how we do it.

How do prospective customers currently find you on the internet? If it seems like a guessing game, talk to the SEO experts at Praxis. We can help you implement an intelligent search engine optimization program that will drive more traffic to your web site.

You've increased the number of visitors to your site. Now what? Will they be able to quickly identify and locate what they're looking for? We'll design your site to make sure that your products and services are well organized and easy to find. The site will be appealing, convey an appropriate message, and have the clear, informative content your customers are seeking.

You get one chance to make a first impression and differentiate your company from the competition. Does your site have the tools your customers need to select the right products quickly and easily? Praxis examines other sites in your marketplace and then builds tools to make product selection, product comparison, and brand comparison easier. Your customers get the answers they need so that they'll want to do business with you instead of your competitors.

Ever wonder why so many people come to your site but leave without making contact? Praxis can help. We build in multiple web conversion tools as part of an overall site design, to give your visitors easy ways to request a quote, send an inquiry, make a purchase or register for premium content. Multiple opportunities for contact will produce more real leads, plus it will help you build a robust permission marketing list for the future.