I was recently called up by an event sales person, trying to get me along to a B2B tech event. When I asked what kind of people would be going, she replied: “Well its B2B event - back2back, for businesses like yourself.”
That call will remain memorable for a long time to come, I’m sure. Not just because it has spawned a new joke (‘back2back’, instead of ‘business to business’), which has been ongoing ever since, or “yourself” (my biggest pet peeve). But also because it got me thinking about what B2B actually means.
During that call, I had effectively been called ‘a business’ and, if I went, I was going to get to meet other businesses. I’m not a business, I’m a person and I wanted to know which people would be there, not which organisations. It made me see first-hand how impersonal B2B PR can be.
In the same way, you may have heard people talking about B2H marketing. It’s not a new thing. We’ve actually been doing it at Richmond & Towers for quite some time - certainly long before the term was coined – but there’s clearly still a lot of work to be done around some people’s attitudes to it within the B2B sector.
B2H, quite simply, stands for Business to Human, a theory which says that, as a business, you should communicate to people – not to their businesses.
Similarly, social media has always been bit of a grey area for B2B marketers. It raises so many questions, including around the best channels to use. Add to that questions over tone of voice and choice of language, and it’s a veritable minefield. But communication is ultimately about people. It’s about tapping into emotions, preferences and points of view. It’s about winning hearts and minds. It’s not – and never should be – just about business.
Businesses don’t read your articles, they don’t view your tweets, they don’t visit your website and they certainly don’t click on your advert. But the people within those businesses do.
So whatever your business may be, and irrespective of whether you are targeting other businesses or a specific end consumer, it is the people who will be purchasing your product or service that you really need to be thinking about and talking to. So next time you think about your B2B communications strategy, why not try thinking about H2H (human to human) – or better still, P2P (person to person).
After all, it’s usually the personal touch that seals the deal.