Head to Head: Is B2C PR more important than B2B?

In this series, Mumbrella invites the industry's senior PR professionals to share their opposing views on the industry's biggest issues. This week, Laura Jones, managing director at Frank PR, goes head to head with Polycom's Gabrielle Cichero in the battle of B2C vs B2B.

There often seems to be an unspoken rift between B2C and B2B communications, so in this week’s Head to Head, we ask: which one is really more important?

Consumers are the biggest stakeholders for most brands, so engaging with them is how brands will find most of their money, Laura Jones argues.

However, Cichero argues there is no one audience more important than the other.

Yes argues, Laura Jones, managing director at Frank PR:

“There’s no doubt that B2B is a key part of a brand’s comms strategy when it comes to driving investment, listings and trust, but for consumer brands, engaging with your biggest stakeholder, consumers, is where the smart money’s at.

“Product and services B2B PR plays out facts; audience, product, USPs, with the aim of securing distribution, investment, positive opinion. But once this pipeline is opened, it’s time to send in consumer comms to build awareness, emotion and ultimately drive consideration and sales. Without this, all the hard B2B work is down the drain.

Jones says consumers are the biggest stakeholders

“And when it comes to hitting multiple audiences, consumer is crucial. Not all consumers are key decision makers, but all key decision makers are consumers. Therefore, creative consumer campaigns can and will, influence a B2B audience, reaching buyers, suppliers, employees, government, partners and shaping how they think and feel about the product or service.

“Consumer cut through is more challenging than ever. With a fragmented media landscape, rapidly dropping circulation figures and a move away from linear TV viewing, brands need to work hard to deliver. Consumer comms need to be creative, relevant and targeted, with campaigns that fuse new and old media. These are the campaigns that get people talking, sharing and create a buzz around the product or service – what we at Frank call talkability. These are the campaigns that build brands and deliver tangible results making all that hard B2B work worth it.

“Ultimately, B2B and B2C is chicken and egg; without one the other can ceases to exist, but when consumers are your biggest stakeholders you need to treat them as such and prioritise B2C.”

No argues, Gabrielle Cichero, senior director of marketing for Polycom Asia Pacific and Japan:

“One of my key responsibilities is to help my teams across APAC determine the right marketing tools and messages for our brand – that might be a direct mail campaign, advertising and/or PR; as well as an event – but all these combine into an integrated marketing plan to create brand equity, drive demand and amplify our message. To do this effectively you must have the right tools and messages that resonate with your audience, irrespective of whether they are B2B or B2C.

“At the core of any successful marketing campaign is understanding the audience and building a human connection. One audience type is not inherently more important than the other; your brand narrative – the stories that give brands meaning or relevance, have to resonate and connect with the audience. And, more often than not, business and consumer audiences have cross over.

Cichero says:  “One audience type is not inherently more important than the other”

“Tools like PR help you tell that story effectively. Successful PR and marketing contribute to building brand value and demand for products that ultimately grow a business. Regardless if it is B2B or B2C, it is marketing’s job to drive sales and ultimately business growth. The brand reputation that you build through PR has to make an impact on people’s lives, regardless of the purchasing decision being a business or consumer one. Sometimes that story is a little harder to extract on the B2B side; and sometimes it’s obvious.

‘Regardless of whether people are making personal buying decisions, or business investment decisions, you still need them to believe in your brand and it’s relevancy. This means helping them establish a connection with that brand, or product and that connection drives them to action. The buying questions are likely to be similar: “is the brand authentic?” “Is it trusted?” “Is it valuable and worth spending money on?” Some people buy on emotion, regardless if it is business or consumer audience, others on empirical data – peer feedback, reseller reviews, specifications and comparisons; and, all these things are equally important for B2B as for B2C. All people buy on trust, regardless of how they get there. Marketing and PR has a responsibility to help people make that decision for the benefit of their company.

“Take for example video conferencing applications that sit on your home computer to chat to interstate family and friends. Similar, if not the same application sits on your work laptop. One is clearly consumer and one is business but there is overlap where your integrated marketing targets the same morning television show to cover the consumer side of the product – but you want the business user to be aware, to increase opportunity go into their consideration set.”

  • As told to Abigail Dawson. If you’re a senior PR professional who would like to take part in a future Head to Head, please email abigail@mumbrella.com.au

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