B2B: A Different Type of PR Atmosphere
July 11, 2013
— B2B, Business to business, marketing, Non-corporate, PR, sales, small business
As Scripps kids, it’s a lifelong dream to see your campaign, writing or creative idea in the spotlight. But, not every job creates legendary campaigns for nationally renowned consumer brands. At Yerecic Label, I work with two aspects of business not typically focused on in the PR world, business-to-business (B2B) and small business.
As a B2B company, instead of communicating to the masses, we work to sell a product to businesses that provide to the final consumer. It’s no surprise that you rarely hear about B2B companies because their target audiences are the national brands, not the consumers. Also, small business marketing and PR positions are on the rise because strategic communication is no longer limited to large corporations. Anyone can conduct a publicity campaign with a creative mind and the help of the internet.
In my experiences at Yerecic Label, there are a few things that I have learned about both the B2B and small business atmosphere. Check out my tips and tricks to see if this type of job is right for your future.
1. Don’t just specialize in one thing; be great at everything
On any given day I could be placed into about five different roles. Currently, I am a web site designer, tradeshow preparer, press release writer, customer service representative, catalog creator and marketing graphic artist… and that was just today.
Even though Yerecic Label is not what I would consider small, with almost 100 employees, I am one of the only people responsible for strategic communication from the company. If you decide to go into a small business marketing position, be prepared to wear as many hats as you can possibly fit on your head.
2. Non-corporate companies move at a slower pace
I know it’s hard to believe, but there are still many businesses that do not use social media as a part of their PR toolkit. There is a lot to be said for the effectiveness of social campaigns, but many small businesses haven’t reached that point in their communication growth yet.
Yerecic Label does not have a Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or any other social profile because currently there is no strong sales benefit from it. While creating a social persona is viable for the company in the future, it is not one of the top communication initiatives. Instead of jumping headfirst into creating various ineffective social media profiles, we chose to focus on creating a strong, customer focused website. This new information hub for our clients is a crucial first step to creating a digital presence and building a strong base for a future social emergence.
However, don’t let the slow pace cramp your style. Use thorough preparation, clear strategies and a killer plan to present your ideas and your efforts will be rewarded…in due time.
3. Know the most effective mediums
In certain business settings, many of the mediums that we have been taught to use are invalid for the purpose of the company. For example, an expensive television commercial for Yerecic Label is ineffective. The cost is extensive and it does not reach the specific business purchasing/packaging managers that we want to target. However, email newsletters and a good old-fashioned handwritten follow-up letter leads to increased visibility of Yerecic Label to prospects. Just like any other campaign, know your audience!
4. Take extra time to have a exceptional understanding of your customers’ industry and market
If you are working to supply products to another industry, as typically B2B companies do, it is necessary to be up-to-date with the current news happening in their market. For example, at Yerecic Label we work with the fresh meat and produce industry to create labels for supermarket consumers.
Throughout the day, I receive multiple industry newsletters to make sure that I have the latest happenings. These email blasts provide me with vital information such as new product launches, growing companies in the industry and current events. There are multiple occasions when I have used information gathered from industry news to target companies for Yerecic Label’s marketing efforts.
Also, Yerecic participates in industry trade shows such as the Annual Meat Conference and Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Fresh Summit. Participation in trade associations allows us to know exactly what is going on in the perishables industry. This knowledge enables us to build effective programs and bring solutions that help clients reach their goals. Like Farkas always says, spend at least 40 percent of your time on a project doing research on the topic.
5. Sales and Strategic Communication must work together, not against each other
In a B2B communication setting, there is the never ending battle between sales and marketing. The sales team believes that they should not have to provide leads for marketing campaigns while communication believes their efforts are undervalued. The time for petty fights between the two departments is over. Instead, work together to generate the most effective leads and potential customers for the company. Remember that the sales teams’ opinions are invaluable because they are interacting with customers every day.
The best way to fix the tension between the two positions is to work together in planning and approval of all communication materials. Any piece of writing or creative that I create is sent out via email to the entire sales team for edits and feedback. While this is not a mandated part of my job and I could have my direct boss approve the material, the sales team appreciates how much I value their opinion.
There are so many ways to utilize PR skills other than an agency or corporate setting. If you love a learning experience, challenges every day and close work relationships then a small business position is right for you. Also, the payoff in a B2B position is incredible because you get to experience a closer relationship with customers and industry members. Lastly, in a smaller setting you can see a direct correlation between your hard work and sales dollars generated for the company. It’s a different type of road, but it’s one worth traveling.
-Kristin Yerecic is a senior studying strategic communications, business and economics. Follow her at @yerecick.