PM Praveen Das, MD and chief creative officer, Happy mcgarrybowen authored a piece on Business 2 Business communication for Times of India. Please scroll down to read the full article or click on the link below.
How mastering B2B moves your skills and creativity a grade up
By P M Praveen Das
It’s not uncommon these days to hear ‘digital’, the ubiquitous ‘D’ word, being loosely sprinkled in conversations in B2B marketing and ad circles – like addinga light ‘tadka’ for taste. Even as we are trying to wrap our heads around this word, there are some more that are cluttering up our already jargon-heavy ad andmarketing vocabulary.
Some of them are better known through initials. Here’s a sample: AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality), M2M (machine to machine) learning, IoT (internet of things), AI (artificial intelligence), UI/UX (user interface/user experience). Then, there is marketing automation, big data, responsive web design, mobile vertical video, digital first design, ‘hero, hub and hygiene’ content strategy — and many more.
For an average client who is into B2B, it is perhaps far too much to take in one sitting – but a godsend nevertheless. Still, the only way to know if it works is to scope out the opportunities that technology has enabled and try it for yourself. Thankfully, gone are the days when B2B was looked down upon by ad agencies because they had to produce ‘below the line’ work for B2B clients — like posters, brochures, point-of-purchase (POP) materials, merchandise, direct mails, etc. Sadly, creative departments thought it below their dignity to work on B2B accounts.
That’s because all of them probably joined advertising for the glamour of creating print and TV campaigns that would win them medals at exotic locations like Cannes. But for the hardcore, who consider themselves as communicators and not mere writers, these are exciting times. There are now immense possibilities for them to not only create interesting award-winning work but also make that work succeed for their clients, and deliver results across a wide variety of digital platforms. By which we mean conversion, and not just logging likes on social media or maintaining a presence because everybody else is doing so.
It all began as B2C (business to customer). Then we had B2B (business to business). Now, it has expanded to, among others, B2P (business to people) and P2P (peer to peer). Mass media principles blindly applied to digital have become anathema and are gradually beginning to fade. Talking to niche audiences has become easier. The new media, in fact, sometimes become the message themselves. Also, technology has enabled stricter metrics and RoI (return on investment).
A surefire way of ensuring success is to begin with empathy, or listening deeply to the client’s pain points. Then, chart out a way forward with a judicious blend of brand understanding and carefully chosen digital engagements, such as marketing automation, games, apps, inspired UI/UX, finetuning websites according toyour needs (and not just for aesthetics), and CRM (customer relationship management) that goes beyond sending SMSs and emailers. And so on. It also includes carefully planning and breaking the campaigns into ‘hero, hub and hygiene’ (a content marketing framework made famous by YouTube in 2014), leveraging earned and paid media prudently, adding metrics to all your activities wherever possible, and monitoring on a daily — even hourly — basis, making course corrections as we go along.
Needless to say, B2B communication has drastically changed in its thinking and delivery. Tech companies have always been early adapters of digital practices, but startups and other typical online businesses have also made the transition quickly. Lines are blurring everywhere. So, for better B2B communication, the need of the hour is brand positioning (and vision), digital knowhow and agility, analytics for insights, technology to enhance and accelerate (and to delight andcaptivate), and continuous learning and innovation.
In short, B2B communication requires the combined skills of a conventional brand communication agency, a digital agency, an analytics and tech company, acontent company and a media company all rolled into one — with a penchant for deep diving into business solutions that can guarantee RoI. For those willing to take the plunge, B2B communication promises a brave new world, a chance for them to up their performance.