What’s The Difference Between B2B PR & B2C PR?

Apr 1, 2021 | B2B PR Blog, Our PR approach

You will no doubt be familiar with the terms business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) PR. You may even understand that these two styles of PR are different, but can you put your finger on the differences?

Most understand B2C is consumer-based and automatically think of fast-moving goods – the type of goods we all consume every day, such as food and drink, clothing, or gadgets. 

It’s easier to understand as almost all of us will have encountered B2C PR in action – we’re all consumers of goods.

B2B PR is PR all the same, except it involves businesses selling to other business and not to consumers.

In B2B PR we even use many of the same methods, tools, and techniques as B2C. PR is one discipline and the way we go about generating buzz, creating opportunities, and building reputation and brand awareness are similar, no matter the target market or client.

B2B personas infographic

Why Is B2B PR Different?

Although B2B and B2C PR have much in common, there is one key difference – B2B PR exists in a vastly different commercial environment.

Firstly, the sales cycle can be years in B2B. Because the products and services being sold to other businesses are often a large investment or involve contracts that can last multiple years, the buying process is nothing like consumer sales. For example, a business selling global IT services will often have to contend with the fact that buyers are going to act slowly. This can be because of tender processes, contracts, or simply because the product or service in questions is not something one would buy every week.

This means B2B businesses need to ensure their PR campaigns have a strong strategic component so that they don’t get lost or diluted over time. 

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READ: 10 Reasons your brand needs PR

For example, a customer wouldn’t buy a global IT system on a whim – they may be tied into a contract for a few years or have multiple people involved in research at their end. From a PR perspective, you need to keep the conversation and engagement, interesting and vibrant for 3, 5,10 years possibly.

Speaking of multiple people, a further layer of complexity is often added in the B2B world as decision-making processes nearly always involve more than one person. The decision-making process may not be easy either with multiple experts and factors impacting the selection and commitment process.

Multiple actors with different, possibly conflicting, motivations and values need to be considered, prioritised, and addressed. This is why persona profiles are an important element of your B2B PR strategy. Creating persona profiles isn’t unique to B2B PR – as consumers, we’re all heavily profiled but multiple, and complex players are something to be mindful of when creating your PR strategy.

Decision-makers also take their time within the buying cycle as the implications of a mis-purchase can be much higher than in a consumer market.

B2B personas infographic

For example, if you decide to buy some chocolate and your chosen treat turns out to be a disappointment, the implications are relatively low for both you and the chocolate seller. You just wouldn’t buy that chocolate again. The wrong product or service in the B2B world could have enormous implications for a business, hence the need for a protracted buying cycle and multiple decision-makers and experts.

An excellent way to coax decision-makers along the way and alleviate fears around bad choices is for businesses to position themselves as thought leaders within their industry, helping guide and educate potential clients. Possessing a perceived high degree of trust and knowledge can be invaluable to a B2B business.  

Finally, and conversely – although B2B purchases tend to be much more expensive than consumer products and services, the size of the budget behind B2B PR campaigns tends to be much smaller!

That means that to be effective in your PR you must be collaborative, expert and, perhaps surprisingly, passionate – in an enduring sort of way. Hence why many B2B businesses look to PR agencies for their expertise. Although an agency may seem a costly affair, having dedicated B2B PR expertise on hand can make budgets stretch much further by achieving the results you want, the first time around.

Join our #B2BPR tribe:

At EC-PR we are passionate about B2B communication. We believe your work is amazing and we want to help you tell the world how extraordinary it is.

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