By now, you are probably aware of the power social media and the Internet have in the modern marketing and public relations landscape. Those in PR are no longer dependent on the traditional media to build awareness of a brand or to spread a brand’s message, as this 2012 Fast Company interview highlighting updated best practices for B2B PR explains.
While many B2B companies are launching social media and other campaigns to better reach and interact with their customers, a few obstacles stand in the way. One is that B2B products and services tend to be fairly commonplace, and thus not necessarily very exciting. Another is that B2B marketers often forget that they are talking to actual people, even though they are targeting their company and product to a business.
You might not be able to be as creative or casual with a B2B campaign as you would be with one for a B2C company, but that doesn’t mean you can’t borrow a few tricks from the B2C toolbox to spice things up.
There are two things to remember when working on a B2B campaign: you, a human, are creating it, and it will be looked at by other humans. Few, if any, people want to look at something that feels as if it has been created by a machine. If you’re trying to create something that is very formal and stiff, you’ll start to bore yourself, too.
You can add personality to a B2B campaign in a variety of ways. A look at successful campaigns from other major companies can give you an idea of what works and what doesn’t.
Olivia Perek over at the New Breed Marketing Blog highlights campaigns from General Electric, as well as one from American Express and another from a shipping company. As Perek notes, GE’s campaign focus on the people behind its products. A series of videos featured people using GE products for the first time, such as a pregnant woman in a remote location, receiving her first ultrasound. To promote its new smart air conditioner, the company focused on the man who came up with the concept, adding humanity to what would otherwise be a fairly dry topic.
Think of it this way: The people at the companies you are trying to reach might benefit from using your product or service. But, they might not be able to see the benefit of that product or service until you show how others who are similar to them use and take advantage of it.
Get Culturally Relevant
Should you make a pop culture reference in a B2B campaign? Absolutely, especially if you can tie that reference into what the company is offering. Stay on top of what’s going on in terms of breaking news and culture, and use what works with your company.
Along with borrowing cultural references from B2C campaigns, you can also look to a few to see what not to do. Some B2C companies have made major missteps when trying to work current memes or hashtags into their marketing (see: DiGiorno’s tweet from September of last year). Before you work anything that’s trending into a campaign, be sure that you know exactly what the trend is referencing.
Move Beyond Text
B2B PR is traditionally very text based, from white papers to press releases. But, text isn’t the only way to convey a message, nor is it necessarily the best most effective way to reach your audience, as screens get smaller and attention spans shorter. Think beyond white papers, press releases, and blog posts and try experimenting with images, such as infographics, to get your message across. Podcasting, which is experiencing a bit of a renaissance, thanks to the popularity of Serial, can also be a great way to bring B2C techniques to a B2B campaign.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when trying to add some B2C pizazz to a B2B campaign is that it’s all about balance. You don’t want to be stiff and formal, but you also don’t want to risk alienating the business community by being too relaxed and informal. Aim for funny and engaging, but stop short of looking as though you are trying too hard.