B2B, B2C or consumer PR?

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People often ask me what sort of agency Twelve is,  B2B or consumer?

Does the definition make any difference to the campaigns that are developed and how effective they are?

I just read a really interesting article on this subject which prompted me to write this post.  The article was in the Drum, written by Jeri Smith, chief executive of Communicus.

(Hadn’t heard of them before so checked them out online. What a great statement they have on their web site: “Communicus provides advertisers with insights to strengthen campaign effectiveness and build brands.” That’s what I call walking the talk.)

Anyway to return to the subject – B2B, consumer or B2C.

Campaign objectives

How would you define PR and marketing for education?

– Is a private school, looking to attract new pupils, targeting parents as business prospects or as consumer prospects?

– Does it change when it’s a state school, does that make it all about consumers?

– What about when a school is trying to recruit high quality teachers?  Is that a business transaction?  Does it call for a B2B campaign?

How about universities?

– How would you define their need to raise awareness about their excellent research, to attract more funding, is that a business campaign?

– Does the need to ensure the public hear about the research through national media channels make it a consumer campaign?

– Is supporting student applications during Clearing a business campaign, like recruiting teachers, or a consumer one?

I’ve always thought it a strange dichotomy, the way we treat business people, as if they have two heads.

Two heads good, one head bad

One head we target with a business message, through business channels in a business-like way to get them to discover, say, the technical brilliance and benefits of a new metal coating which will improve their manufacturing processes and reduce costs.

The other head we target with a consumer message to encourage them to try a new shampoo which will make their blond highlights last longer and be less likely to start looking ‘brassy’ over time.

The article in the Drum tackles this subject with science.  You can’t beat some good hard science.

System 1 and System 2

Jeri draws on the work of Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman and his book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’:

“Kahneman delineates two modes of thinking: “System 1” is instantaneous, driven by instinct and emotion; “System 2” is slower, driven by deliberation and logic. Kahneman hones several decades of research to emphasize how people attribute far too much importance to ‘rational’ human judgements in decision-making. Specifically, he explains that even when we believe we are making decisions based on rational considerations, our System 1 beliefs, biases and intuition drive much of our thinking.”

Maximising impact

This is where it impacts on the definitions between business and consumer campaigns:

“Business people have their own notions about brands. A huge proportion of these ideas are derived from humans’ System 1 belief system. And much of what resides in our System 1 belief system are impressions yielded from our own experiences. When it comes to brands marketing to both consumers and B2B targets, the business target has deep-seated impressions of the brand that affect their decision-making. And where do those come from? In large part, consumer advertising.”

The point is that people never see messages in isolation. The same head sees the consumer advertising, or interesting piece of editorial your PR placed for them to learn about how to maintain their hair colour, as also sees the business campaign.

Jeri concludes: “Kahneman’s insights, so beloved by consumer marketers, apply just as much to B2B: design advertising so that the target remembers the brand in a way that drives a (non-rational) connection to the brand in their System 1 thinking. Rational ad sells don’t work any better among B2B targets than they do among consumer targets.”

PR messages and content

Of course as a PR agency we don’t think about adverts we think about messages and content, but the principal is the same.

Often we use the B2B / consumer / B2C definitions to help us cut out wastage – if you want to reach process engineers, the majority will be reading ‘Process Engineering’.  A few will read Good Housekeeping or GQ but not many.

This argument was often used when I was at The Guardian to clinch an ad sale.  Overall more teachers read the Daily Mail, but a greater proportion of Guardian readers are teachers.  Your advertising spend if you want to reach teachers is therefore more targeted or effective in The Guardian, the argument goes.  But then almost all the people who read the TES are teachers…This is all starting to sound like navel gazing.  Where does it get us?

Influence

Our aim as a PR agency is to help influence in an honest way – to reach people and influence their opinion.  To make them aware of your proposition or qualities and ultimately to convince them to act on that knowledge.  That might be to purchase; apply to a new school; recommend something to others; reward them; fund them; entertain them; campaign for them, vote for them etc.

So to return to the original question, are you B2B, B2C or just consumer? The question should be framed differently.

Are you targeting a business or consumer audience?  This gives us a useful way to identify the most effective channels for reaching our targets.

An effective PR agency

In these terms Twelve is an agency which targets both consumer and trade audiences.

But in terms of emotion and impact, key factors which guide our strategic thinking and planning, we should completely ignore the false divide between business and consumer.

We an agency which helps people to reach and influence other humans.

 

You can read the original article in the Drum at:

http://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2017/04/20/the-1-engagement-problem-why-most-b2b-advertising-fails

 

 

 

 

 

The beauty of the hummingbird

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Are you watching Planet Earth? What connection can this possibly have with PR and B2B marketing?

The photography and camera work is so exquisite, people have been asking if it is CGI.  The beauty of the natural world; the iridescent plumage of the hummingbirds; the incredible beak of the sword billed hummingbird; the way it has evolved to occupy a niche and survive – such artistry in nature.

Bathos alert! It reminded me how apposite Google was to call its latest search platform hummingbird. Google  logo of hummingbird search engine platform

You can really understand that the platform is designed to pick out exactly the page or information you are looking for in a jungle of information.  Google defined the name as being chosen because it means ‘precise and fast’.

There are many factors in a Google search, but when Hummingbird was introduced in 2013 it brought in an emphasis on looking at how each word and other factors (such as your location) work together, to try and take into account the meaning of the whole query not just individual word.

And it does this of course with incredible speed and accuracy.

A reminder then, if we need one, of competition and survival of the fittest in business to business marketing.

Search engine optimisation and google ranking is vital for a business to thrive.  Good content is a top three factor used by Google to rank a website. And that is where of course,  a PR agency can help you stay ahead of the competition…

How to…bring simple graphic design in-house

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If you don’t know by now, visual, well-designed, curated content is in. Instagram usage has doubled in the last two years and is well on its way to overtaking Facebook as the most engaged AND popular network.[1] At the same time, both video and infographics have become powerful tools for brands looking to communicate more easily with their readers. Effective communication is undeniably becoming more about visual aspects than ever before.

Agency work is varied; while we at Twelve produce traditional PR, develop media relations, etc., more and more communication relies on visual elements – we also produce newsletters, posters, leaflets, social media adverts etc. Infographics often accompany important research-based press releases as a visual way of communicating the topline news. And with the importance of high quality graphics on the up, clients have high expectations that we need to match.

It makes sense then, that many creative PR agencies are thinking about how they can bring some elements of graphic design in-house. While we do use an external designer and printer for some jobs, sometimes we need to put together a quick, professional-looking creative ourselves.

And while taking a photo at an edgy angle and adding a snazzy filter may be anyone’s game, professional graphic designing is not. Here are some tips to get started on your own in-house design:

Canva

For beginners, free online software Canva is your new best friend. It’s super easy to use, intuitive and really made for creative assignments without the fancy, difficult to use features of a professional graphic design programme.

It has a range of background, font, layout and size options and templates, as well as various images, logos and shapes you can use for free. You can also upload your own images, so brand logos and specific imagery can be easily added to your design.

There are some elements you need to pay for, but here at Twelve we use the free account and it’s more than we need to design social media creatives and other simple visuals, like a blog graphic or an email header. There is also a free infographic template which is really useful for creating a simple infographic if you don’t have time (or budget!) for professional design work.

The eye for design 

Many say that some people just have an eye for design. While it may come more naturally to some, it is something you can learn by looking at or finding similar designs to what you are aiming to create. There are all sorts of resources online that you can use to find inspiration and use as a base for your design, whether you’re making a creative for a Facebook advert or your building a four-page newsletter. As you get more experience and more confident with the process of designing, you will start to trust your own nose more and be more creative.

For practical tips and to learn basic design principles, Canva itself has a really useful blog to help beginners get started: https://designschool.canva.com/

InDesign courses

After becoming more proficient using Canva, you’ll start to notice it can’t do all the things a professional graphic design programme can. This only really becomes a problem with more complicated design jobs, like a newsletter or leaflet for example (Canva is definitely still my go to for social media visuals and smaller jobs). But if you do want to bring these types of more complex graphic design jobs in-house, InDesign is the next step.

InDesign is a paid-for Adobe product, which is used by most professional graphic designers. This means it has a LOT of features so you can get the precision required for complicated graphic design jobs. This being said, if you are thinking of getting InDesign, I would recommend going on a course to get to grips with the programme, rather than trying to navigate it yourself like you can do on Canva. You can get some fantastic results from InDesign, but it is an complex programme to learn to use.

I won’t give a step-by-step guide to using InDesign, as this blog would become VERY long, but to really understand the programme and use it to its full potential, look into booking onto a beginners’ course (probably a 2-day course) and see how you get on.

graphic design in-house

Infographic designed on Canva

Visual PR?

The statistics to the left speak for themselves; visual communication is effective. In order to help brands and products to be heard through the noise across the proliferation of media channels, where visual aspects matter just as much, if not more, than words, design skills are something we need to look to understand as experts in communication, ensuring we keep up with trends and stay ahead of change.

 

 

 

[1] https://www.brandwatch.com/2016/05/37-instagram-stats-2016/