Does your company sell its product or service to other companies? Do you consider yourself a B2B (business-to-business) company?
If so, don’t confuse consumer-oriented marketing with true B2B marketing. While there certainly are parallels between consumer and B2B marketing, the differences are profound and can help you create a truly successful campaign.
FACTS vs. BUZZ
Let’s consider why B2B companies – and their target audiences — are different. First, they sell to an audience that relies on facts and logic, rather than emotion and “buzz.” Consumers can be swayed by cool graphics and emotionally charge words. If they feel good about a product or service, they will purchase it. I certainly remember things I have bought that I later realized were not needed – or even wanted! This is when emotions take charge of the buying decision.
In contrast, buyers of B2B products and services tend to gravitate to the bottom line. For products, they ask:
- Does it work?
- Does it do what they say it does?
- Do testimonials or examples from other businesses show how they used the product successfully?
For B2B services, buyers ask:
- Does this company have a strong reputation?
- Do employees possess deep knowledge of the service they provide?
- Do they have extensive experience serving my kind of business?
Whether they are a professional services firm such as accounting or legal services, or a more technical firm such as IT services, displaying their expertise is critical to the success of their marketing.
PUBLIC RELATIONS IS IDEAL FOR B2B
Fortunately, when properly aimed, public relations tactics can be just the ticket for B2B companies. PR is valuable because not only does it bring credibility, but you can reach your prospective buyers fairly easily. Because you know their industry, you can figure out what trade publications they may be reading, or which websites they scan for news that affects their businesses. Once this is determined, the next step is getting quoted in staff-written articles and contributing byline articles you write, both will spotlight your know-how.
What’s ideal about a PR campaign for a B2B company is that it can go in so many directions and be integrated with social media, the website, email marketing, etc. While buzz is often the realm of consumer companies, you can generate buzz just by carefully planning and implementing a PR campaign in the B2B world.
Let’s take a hypothetical CPA company. A CPA firm can gain visibility in publications read by their colleagues, such as Accounting Today or Cal CPA. While this isn’t their target audience, the article can be pushed out to prospects, and clients, via social media channels, as well as posted on the company website. Great for building credibility! A CPA firm also can target publications that cover their practice areas, such as manufacturing, nonprofit or real estate. Articles in those vertical outlets can easily bring prospects to your doorstep – or at least your inbox. And, of course, the key is taking this third-party endorsement from media (instant credibility) and placing it in front of the people that matter – your prospects.
We consider PR to be the secret sauce of B2B marketing. When layered between other marketing tactics, from advertising to trade shows, this sauce can result in targeted prospects choosing you — above all the others offering similar services or products.
Hilary Kaye is the founder and president of HKA, Inc. Marketing Communications, an award- winning agency that has developed and implemented successful PR and marketing programs for numerous B2B companies, consumer businesses and nonprofit organizations over the past 30 years. Kaye, who has written for industry publications and been interviewed on business talk shows, enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences in the ever-changing world of marketing and PR.