When I tell people I work in PR, they assume I live like Edina from Absolutely Fabulous, in a whirlwind of champagne, product launches and celebrity parties. I then let them know that, actually, I’m in Financial Services PR. Not that it doesn’t have its glamorous side of course – we do have a Nespresso machine in the office. It’s just that B2B PR is often seen as more serious than its B2C counterpart, which isn’t completely incorrect. But things are changing: more and more, the B2B world is taking a leaf out of B2C’s book in the name of more effective engagement. As businesses change, so do the ways they position their brand and interact with their audiences.
Of course, B2C and B2B are often seen as inherently different: with B2C, many believe that emotion plays more into the consumer’s decision, but with the longer B2B sales cycle, it’s thought that a business will rely more on logic. This perception is changing, and agencies must understand that emotion is a significant element of the buying decision for businesses too – rather than buying purely on logic, most decision-makers choose a brand for a long-term relationship. They look for a partner they can trust, who will stand by them in times of difficulty and change. This is the sweet spot vendors should fall in to: the coveted ‘trusted advisor’.
Traditionally, this element of trust has been championed more in the B2C world, where brand strength has always been king. To build this, companies and B2C agencies usually have insight into their audiences in an individual way; their age, what they eat, where they go and how they buy. This can be harder to define when a business sells to other businesses. But what’s often forgotten is that a business is just made up of consumers: in B2B, that final B is just made up of Cs. B2B vendors can delve deeper than only looking at what its target markets read. Who are the decision makers? What do they read? Where do they live? How do they engage with this vendor? How do they consume media? Jane Doe, for example, might be the Chief Technology Officer at her organisation; she lives outside London and reads the FT and City AM during her morning commute on her iPad; she grew up in South London; loves going to the theatre. Some points might sound trivial, but when we get into the mindset of the consumer (even if that consumer is a business), we can start more worthwhile conversations.
We need to see that these decision makers are real people too, with habits, likes and dislikes. Only then can we more effectively target content towards them in a way they can easily digest. It’s about creating interesting, arresting content that they can really engage with. Brand development and emotional buying are no longer confined to the realms of B2C PR.