What are the key challenges for B2B communications?

B2B CommunicationsAs a senior communications consultant I spend a lot of my time helping companies improve how they communicate with other businesses.

Like everyone else, it’s not often that I’m able to find the time to stand back and really appreciate the unique challenges associated with this sort of work.

But by doing so I know that it helps to develop a much better understanding of what specific value I am adding, or should be adding, to help solve my client’s challenges.

In a recent post, PR Moment examined the nature of the challenges of business-to-business (B2B) PR, contrasting it with business-to-consumer (B2C) PR. This is a good way to understand the nature of your market; using a ‘contrasting’ device acts like a mirror, enabling you to reflect.

Therefore, I have distilled the original post down to its key points below and added a few thoughts of my own.

1. B2B purchases are usually higher value than in B2C, therefore more people are involved in the buying and more research is conducted before purchase. It is a very ‘rationale’ process.

2. Unlike in B2C, in B2B comms you have a challenge in working out how to target the many influencers and decision makers. You have to understand how decision-making happens and target specific groups and individuals with tailored communication.

3. B2B comms has often been about churning out information on products and services, hoping some of it will stick. B2C PR taps into the consumer sales cycle, and likewise B2B PR is more effective if it taps into businesses sales cycles too.

4. It’s not surprising that B2B comms are generally more conservative that their B2C counterparts, given the rational nature of the process and the professional people who are involved. It can, however, make it difficult to persuade clients to use more creative communications approaches.

5. B2B comms will more likely focus on being informative and helpful to decision makers, and those around them who influence decisions. Confidence and trust are built up over the long-term, so your business makes the shortlist at the critical moment.

6. However, because B2B campaigns tend to be more focused on the ‘rational’ and the use of hard information, more challenge and creativity is required to create something that is eye-catching to deliver within these tough parameters.

7. The challenges between B2B and B2C comms are in fact very similar. For example, in terms of channel trends, the rise of online video content is a common challenge, as is a communications team’s ability to create such content.

8. Buyers in both markets can research products and services for themselves more easily than ever before. For B2B comms professionals, there is a challenge but also increased opportunity to influence potential buyer’s research by securing online coverage that shows up in searches.

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