B2B business owners often make the mistake of a one-size-fits-all mentality when it comes to public relations. B2B PR, however, is considerably different than its B2C counterpart — with differences that could cost you big in your public relations strategy.
Product launches, branding, and new initiatives demand a strong PR presence. Read on to discover what B2B PR can do and how it differs from its B2C counterpart.
In this post, we’ll explore:
- Why B2B communications is important
- 10 key differences between B2B and B2C PR
Why Your B2B Company Needs Public Relations
Which companies come to mind when you think of B2B? Perhaps super giants, such as GE or IBM are the first to pop into your head. It’s easy to imagine PR for those companies.
However, even smaller companies will benefit from a good dose of PR, as it is the oxygen that breathes life into any firm. Without PR, you’re simply drowning in a sea of competitors, rather than standing out and captaining your ship to sail in concert with the waves.
Good PR increases visibility, drives leads, creates awareness, and ultimately boosts revenues. What company doesn’t want those positive results?
This is where a B2B public relations agency is often the best option, especially if you’ve been trying public relations tactics for a while without much success. An agency will know how to get the right attention for your brand and how to position it in the best possible light. PR professionals who specialize in B2B will also know what tactics will work best for your specific case.
If you’re just diving in to the PR world, or even if you’ve been floating around in it for a while, you may be wondering if B2C PR tactics are just as useful in the B2B sector. Let’s tackle that next.
10 Key Differences Between B2C and B2B PR & How They Affect Your Business
B2C PR tends to focus on creating excitement over a product. Before a product is even launched, we get the impression (if PR is done properly) that it already exists everywhere and that it’s something we need to purchase because we’ll be out of the loop if we don’t.
To find proof of this, just take a look at the lines for the Apple Store when a new product is released.
However, B2B public relations focuses on building trust in a brand. You may be interested in a new cloud software that is about to launch, but it’s extremely unlikely you’ll enter a long-term relationship with it before knowing you can trust the provider.
In order to build trust, you must establish that you are the go-to person in your industry. Find your niche and be the source of useful, helpful information.
While B2C customers often buy a product based on entertainment value or price, B2B buyers want to see evidence of a brand’s industry knowledge and expertise.
In addition, because B2B products usually come with a higher price point, buyers take a while to make a purchase decision. During that decision-making period, buyers do a hefty amount of research. That’s why educational content is an important part of any B2B strategy.
Educational content boosts confidence that your brand is reliable and trustworthy — a potent combination that will lead to more purchase decisions.
You can do this by creating a company blog and regularly stocking it with educational content that addresses questions and concerns that your audience faces.
3. Lead Generation
B2C products and services typically have a wide audience, whereas the B2B audience is generally very specific and streamlined.
Let’s face it, if you’re selling rubber roofing material, a broad advertising net will yield few results. However, advertising an organic lip balm on YouTube just before Justin Bieber’s new video may garner similar results to advertising it on Monday night TV on the CW Network.
What’s the message for those of us in the B2B world? Narrowly define your audience and market directly to them.
Do this by targeting social channels used by prospects and segmenting your leads so you can send personlized content to different groups.
- Buyer’s Journey
B2C buyers traditionally make purchase decisions quickly, if not on-the-spot. Consumers simply research a product, often on a mobile device, and then make their purchase from anywhere, whether it’s online or in a store.
B2B buyers, however, go through a more extensive process. They often take their time to make a purchase decision. This could take anywhere from a few months to a couple years, depending on the size of the purchase.
What does this mean for public relations in the B2B space? PR professionals work hard to create assets for every stage of the buyer’s journey. Public relations for B2B requires more patience to stay the course as buyers move along their journey.
Create content that fits all stages of your buyer’s journey — this could be an infographic to build awareness, an eBook for the consideration stage, and a white paper for a buyer who is in the decision stage.
5. Influencers and Advocates
Do you know who is the current CEO of Priceline? I don’t. I do know that William Shatner and Kaley Cuoco have appeared on numerous commercials for Priceline.
That’s not going to fly in the B2B public relations world, though.
If your PR efforts are going to be successful, you need to brand, not just your company, but also your executives. They should be known for being industry leaders and influencers, rather than hiring influencers and advocates.
This isn’t to say that you should avoid seeking out the endorsement of bloggers and industry professionals. However, your primary objective should be to become the voice of your industry.
There are numerous ways you can accomplish this, including:
- Joining HARO to offer quotes and expertise to reporters
- Responding to online queries relating to your industry
- Offering owned content that educates your audience
- Being active on social channels
- Contributing POV articles to media outlets
- Speaking at industry events
- Polishing your credentials with industry awards
- Aligning with partners who can widen and deepen your reach
6. Social Media
In B2C PR, gaining as many followers as possible on social media helps to create brand awareness, and a “need” for a product.
However, social media for B2B is a different beast. To begin with, not all social channels are appropriate for your B2B brand. If your brand doesn’t fit with Snapchat, then you shouldn’t force it. If Instagram campaigns yield few to no results, then move on.
B2B social posts tend to be more informative rather than emotional, which means platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn (the source of 80% of B2B leads) should take front and center in your social campaigns.
7. Owned Media
B2B owned media, in the form of blog posts, videos, eBooks, and other content takes a different form than B2C owned media.
For instance, a B2C blog post may be around 500 words. It will likely be entertaining and easy to digest — no concentration necessary. However, some studies show that B2B blog posts are more engaging when they are at least 1,400 words in length. This requires more of an investment to create such in-depth posts — but this effort is well-rewarded by B2B audiences.
Whatever length you settle on, the content should be engaging, but most of all, it should be informative and useful to your audience.
Relationships are an important part of public relations for B2B companies. Because B2B buyers can take a while to make a purchase decision, it is important to nurture relationships for the long haul.
This relationship, however, goes both ways. While B2B buyers want to know the company they purchase from, B2B companies also need to know as much as they can about their audience. Create detailed buyer personas that will allow you to precision target your audience and move them to a purchase decision.
B2C buyers, on the other hand, are more driven by a product rather than a relationship with the company — often choosing a product based on price point and similar factors rather than brand loyalty.
Look for ways to strengthen your bond with your audience, helping them to trust you and view you as a reliable source for information and help.
The motivation for B2C versus B2B buyers is completely different. B2C buyers are driven to a purchase decision based on emotional and personal triggers. For example, a woman buys lipstick because she likes the way it looks and feels on her — it feels an emotional need.
B2B buyers are often motivated by the value of the product or service you provide. This is not the same thing as the price. A B2B buyer may choose a more expensive product if they see that it is worth that bigger price tag — does it make their job easier? Give them a higher quality result? B2B buyers are driven by the value they see in your product.
Find out what specific factors motivate your audience and what value you provide and key in on that.
10. Decision Makers
Another key difference between these two types of PR is the individuals involved in the purchase decision. There is usually only one person involved in the B2C purchase decision — the consumer. While individuals may be influenced by friends or family, there is only one person making the decision.
On the flip side, when B2B companies make a purchase decision it often filters down through several key players. For instance, while a CEO may opt for a particular brand of computer security software, the CFO may also weigh in to make sure it is a wise use of the company’s funds.
With so many individuals making the decision, you need to make sure that you cater to each one’s concerns.
Key Points to Remember…
- Education is an important part of public relations in the B2B space.
- Determine a specific audience you wish to reach — don’t cast a wide net.
- While B2C companies typically use social media to get a large audience, B2B companies need to use social media to engage.
- B2B companies often have more decision makers involved in a purchase decision, so you’ll need to address the concerns of each one.
One thing is for sure, we can select certain useful elements from the B2C PR model, but in the end, B2B PR must be specifically designed to cater to the needs of its unique audience. As PR evolves and changes, we continue to learn how to manage the nuances that make B2B PR special.
This post appeared first on B2B PR Blog