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B2B and B2C – same ballpark, different game

By Lisa Meisterjahn, Associate Director of Ballou Germany

Some tech companies believe that the approach that has worked successfully in gaining PR coverage for their tech proposition targeted at other businesses (B2B – business to business) will work equally well when targeting the consumer (B2C – business to consumer) market.  We disabuse them of this idea rapidly and firmly; the approach needs to be very different. 

When your product is being sold to consumers, they are buying the story behind it.  The human element becomes essential.  The “story” of the product – how it came into being, who it is aimed at, the challenge it meets – is essential.  What you are hoping for is an emotional response to your product, rather than just a list of tech specifications that mean nothing to anyone except the person that designed it. 

Some products cross over, of course; we work with internet giant Mozilla, which has solutions for both business and consumer.  Ballou works to raise consumer awareness of the wider Mozilla brand, to promote Mozilla’s values of internet freedom to a wide variety of media and stakeholders, and to drive downloads of the Firefox browser and associated services.   We’re talking to consumers but also political organisations and governments, technology leaders and enterprise. 

Any consumer, however, who is reading about Mozilla’s consumer products in detail is clearly tech savvy but most people tend to be happy using web platforms without knowing the rationale behind their functionality. Ballou obtained coverage in German tabloid magazine Bild by linking Mozilla with data protection in remote control sex toys.  No-one wanted to know how they worked or how they were built, they just wanted to know what it meant for them.

The language we use is therefore different in the B2B and B2C communication approaches.  Jargon should be avoided but if it is genuinely unavoidable then we explain it, as clearly as possible.  A good rule of thumb is to imagine yourself explaining it to someone either two generations above or one generation below you – would they understand?  Based on your description, would they be able to understand why the product is useful? 

Companies, despite their best efforts, develop a sort of blindness when it comes to their own products.  They define them in key phrases that have been produced by their marketing department, for a B2B market. An external view here is essential to make sure you are addressing the “but how does this help me?” angle. 

In Germany the B2C media does not like Anglicisms when there is a German equivalent.  In addition, the form different magazines use for gender can differ widely and we approach the publication beforehand to establish its preferred approach. 

Not all magazines are created equal.  Every publication has a different tone, a different voice it uses to communicate with its audience so a one size fits all approach will not work. 

So, what do companies wanting to target the B2C market need to do?  Know your audience and speak to them emotionally, with a story, not in jargon or data.  You’re not talking to investors, you’re talking to your neighbours.  If you have one product aimed at both a B2C and B2B market, you have to have two different pitches, two different press releases and two different stories. 

If you’d like more information or advice, please contact Ballou Germany here https://balloupr.com/contact/#!

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