Why B2B isn’t boring

Caroline Aspinal

This is an article by Caroline Aspinall

B2B (business to business) PR is often overlooked by graduates and newcomers in favour of its ‘sexier’ cousin B2C (business to consumer).

But B2B has loads going for it and in this guide, I’ll attempt to put paid to the argument that B2B is boring.

What’s the difference?

As the names suggest, one deals with organisations that rely on business-to-business relationships and the other with companies that peddle their wares directly to consumers.

The unique target audiences of these sectors necessitates a fundamental difference in the philosophy and methodology of their PR and marketing.

A successful B2B company is built upon the strength of its relationships. Sales cycles can be extremely long and involved processes and as such, building trust and authority can be exponentially more important than simply focusing on brand awareness.

The mind-set and stages that the business buyer goes through are distinct from those of your average consumer. They’re typically looking for a product that will improve or streamline some internal process and they’re more than willing to take their time and make absolutely sure they’ve found the right one before splashing the cash.

B2C on the other hand, tends to be more ‘flash in the pan’. Its target audiences are segments of the general public and as such, the field concentrates on promoting a product or service somewhat more directly than B2B.

To paraphrase an often-used idiom, B2B is based on logic, while B2C campaigns are based around emotion.

A bum rap for B2B

So why does B2C so often steal the limelight from its more glamorous relative?

I think there’s a view, especially from newcomers, that if you go down the B2C route, you’ll be helping to put together high-profile campaigns involving fun events and freebies for brands you’ll have heard of.

Down the B2B path, however, lurks a career pedalling HVAC systems or accounting software at a humdrum industry exhibition.

But bear in mind, there are just as many boring B2C campaigns as exciting B2B campaigns. It’s not necessarily your choice of the B2C field that will determine how much satisfaction or enjoyment you’ll get out of your work.

Bolstering B2B

So what does B2B have going for it?

For me personally, I prefer engaging with businesses that are actively seeking knowledge, information and insights – rather than just aiming a product at consumers and firing.

It’s immensely satisfying to work with B2B companies in producing and placing in-depth, thought-leadership articles that receive a positive response. Similarly, helping position a key business figure as an industry leader and spokesperson can be a transformative experience.

And the crisis communications aspect of PR is just as exciting and satisfying whether representing a B2C client of B2B.

Knowledge

You have to be on the ball when it comes to B2B and the education aspect is a constant process. Understanding current and forthcoming legislation, and the potential effects on your clients’ customer base is vital.

And the sheer range of news-jacking opportunities that present themselves in the wake of major announcements on these fronts makes for great PR fodder. Despite being a slow burn, when a B2B campaign reaches its zenith – you can be sure it’s time for all hands on deck.

What about you?

It takes a special kind of person to be successful in B2B PR. You’ll need to be ambitious, excited at the prospect of understanding how companies operate, detail-oriented, creative and highly organised and efficient.

If you want your work to be taken seriously and don’t want to spend your life managing a celebrity’s diary and putting ribbons on give-aways, then B2B can be a much more rewarding outlet than B2C.

If you’re still unconvinced, or want to ask any questions about my B2B experiences – don’t hesitate in leaving a comment or fire me a tweet.

Caroline Aspinall is Associate Director at Roland Dransfield PR. A former award-winning journalist for titles like the Liverpool Echo and Sunday Express, she has a wealth of experience in planning and leading PR campaigns across a variety of sectors and industries.

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