Is business-to-business marketing communication dead?
I’ve heard this question asked several times in recent months.
Some people have been arguing that there is no such thing as specialist business-to-business PR and marketing communication any more. They base this on the notion that modern media has made us all consumers, and that everybody should be treated as a consumer as a result, with more emotive campaigns rather than the more rationally focused traditional business-to-business approach.
My response to this, as you might expect, is poppycock.
Communication is a simple thing. You need a message, an audience and a channel – an effective way of getting the message to the audience.
If you get the message right, if you understand the audience, their needs and aspirations, and if you choose an effective medium, then you will communicate successfully.
In business-to-business communication these things remain, and will always be, specialised.
If you manufacture a technology for a specialist manufacturing supply chain, there is no point in communicating its benefits in an emotive way if this doesn’t get to the kernel of what makes it stand out from its competitors or what makes it a unique step forward.
You can’t communicate using consumer facing media because the chances of the message being picked up in a non specialist medium are very small indeed. Most of all though, if you don’t understand the market, the needs and aspirations of the audience, then you have no chance at all of positioning your product or service effectively, let alone of reaching the person who ultimately makes the decision of whether to buy it or not.
Business-to-business communication remains a specialised field that demands knowledge of markets, products, services, media and audiences, in order to package those products and services effectively, communicate their benefits to the right people, put them on the map and ultimately convince the person signing the cheques that they should be investing in them and not something from a competitor.