What can B2B businesses take from public relations, content marketing, trust and reputation building into 2022?
The B2B PR agency blog run by Metamorphic PR has captured all manner of useful insights, guidance and lessons from this year, and here is a flavour:
Getting to know the new generation of B2B buyers:
The so-called BETAs are the first cohort of digital natives to achieve decision making positions in their organisations.
57% of BETAs are now making key influencing decisions for business and 40% are responsible for testing new vendors. This includes decisions about complex SaaS and other platforms; in other words, serious B2B buying choices.
BETAs also have a high level of risk aversion. This means choosing to do business with companies they’re already familiar with and being mindful of who their competitors opt to work with. Companies selling B2B need to “double down on things that build trust”, which ultimately boils down to brand building, including the importance of “social proof”. And think how you can communicate more informally and build relationships virtually.
Content marketing strategy – think like a customer
Research company Forrester has said that “57% of content buyers receive from vendors is useless”. Which is why – according to the Content Marketing Institute – 88% of successful B2B marketers “prioritise the audience’s informational needs over promotional messaging”.
Taking “product” as your starting point in content marketing is likely to be a less effective strategy. Ann Handley of MarketingProfs says: “You need to think from a customer standpoint and what it does for them; what is useful/valuable to your audience and how what you provide makes their lives better.”
PR and content creation – doing more with less
When considering a B2B PR or content marketing campaign or ongoing communications plan, it’s worth thinking whether the five things that will help you do more with less:
- Provide something new: A new idea, concept, piece of advice, approach – or a new take on what’s gone before.
- Provide something nobody else is: To know that, you need to be sure what your competitors are doing PR and content marketing-wise already.
- Provide something genuinely useful and valuable to the reader, listener or viewer: Be honest with yourself and employ a high level of self-critique about your ideas.
- Provide data-driven, sector and subject matter-specific insights: based on credible, in-house data or by commissioning in-depth and authoritative research.
- Provide something that will change people’s perception of your business or get them to respond to you in a way you want: If your PR, content or marketing communications are unlikely to move people’s minds and/or emotions, rethink your campaign ideas until you’ve got something that will.
Storytelling for B2B businesses – engage people with a narrative
The business of storytelling is a legitimate tool for marketing communications in B2B technology.
Bryan Glick – editor in chief at Computer Weekly – called storytelling “the purest form of sharing human experiences” and a “narrative that engages an audience at an emotional/personal level” that gives B2B technology buyers “confidence to talk to you as a supplier”.
“Now, technology buyers expect to be addressed in their own language, so a lot of tech companies have a lot to improve. I’d encourage any tech marketer to read press releases to see the impenetrable language. It’s an opportunity to stand out using simple language the buyer understands. Get out of some old bad habits and stand out from the crowd!” he said.
Working with journalists to get coverage for your business
Cultivating good relationships with journalists and the media is essential for successful, enduring communications – even when your business is on the back foot and has some explaining to do. “A journalist is for life and not just for Christmas. You need long-term relationships based on trust so, when times are bad, your view is more likely to be reflected,” Matt Brown, director of news and external relations at Transport for London (Tfl) said.
As Brown noted, when things do go wrong in organisations and the media is knocking at the virtual door, it’s about having “honest conversations, acknowledging it and giving as much information as you can.”
And what you do with your press release can’t be lazy, half-hearted or amateur. “The press release is your brand – what is the sell and make sure it’s really clear. How relevant is it? What’s the news value? What will make people want to read and consume it?”
B2B and tech businesses in pursuit of purpose
Manchester tech businesses are clear about the importance of purpose, so what could others learn from them?
- Have a mission: the “ability to have a blank piece of paper and conceive an idea that employees, customers investors believe in – it’s unbelievably rewarding”.
- Have guiding principles: “If you look after your customers and employers, the shareholder value thing looks after itself.”
- Have a culture that works: “purpose is really important and fosters a culture – making a difference is the most important thing”.
Putting trust building at the heart of business
For the first time, business is at the top of the list of most trusted institutions, according to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer.
Edelman’s research showed that 86% of people expect CEOs to speak out publicly on societal issues. So, this means “leading with facts, acting with empathy and providing truthful, unbiased, reliable and trustworthy information.
The big shift has been the move from a shareholder to a stakeholder focus. If business leaders are going to drive long-term shareholder value, companies need to consider all stakeholders. That includes employee education, life-long learning and playing an engaging role in communities.
Do you need B2B PR, content marketing or reputation and trust-building support in 2022? Contact Metamorphic PR.