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

 

 

 

 

 

Writing key messages

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A great message can come to you in a flash, or you can work on it for days on end. Here’s some tips to help you with the process of writing key messages.

 

Your key messages can and should change quite often.

Your product or offer might not have changed, but your audience or your market probably has.

It’s especially important to get your messages right now that we’ve entered the era of unreliable reviews and ‘post truth.’

A great way to start is to return to the basic ‘what, why, where, when’ to define your offer.   Then it helps to check your messages against some key factors:

Evidence

What evidence do I have to back up this statement?  This could be market research, product testing, a case study or a client quote.

Target audience

What features or benefits do I need to convey to my different target audiences? What are their concerns or needs that I can meet or help?

Positivity

Am I using positive phrases and actions? A complicated sentence is often perceived as less positive or honest.  Use short sentences with positive convictions.

Understandable

This sounds so obvious as to be silly, but actually you should check –  are you so wrapped up in your product bubble that you’ve adopted marketing speak rather than normal words and sentences?

Writing good, convincing key messages is an art form, like writing a good tweet.  We cite Rob Temple who built his fortune on the twitter feed, followed by the books: “Very British Problems.” 

His tweets look so innocent and funny, like a sudden observation of a moment of awkwardness: but he often takes one whole day to write a tweet.

So if you’ve lost your sense of humour, and are so bogged down writing key messages and PR content that you can’t see the wood for the trees, follow the tips here and take a moment to read this post from the Creative Review about writing protest signs.  I guarantee it will make you smile and refresh your copy writing skills:

“An emergency guide to writing protest signs”

 

 

Building brand trust. What is the role of PR?

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Trust in business, government, journalists and charities has all fallen dramatically in the past year.

Charities took the biggest trust hit, dropping from a “neutral” position of 50 per cent trust in 2016, to 46 per cent in the autumn, to 32 per cent at the turn of 2017. [i]

What can you do to prove that your brand or product can be trusted?

If you’re a charity for example, how can you protect your revenue streams, which allow you to keep delivering your charitable mission, if people don’t trust you with their money? Does PR even have a role in building brand trust?

The role of PR

The Trump election and Brexit votes have shown us that people are fed up with ‘corporate speak’. They are want plain, even blunt words, without any spin.

But this is not the time to ditch the PR.  This is exactly the time to use your PR team even more.

Your communications people need to get out there and connect with staff, customers and stakeholders so that they can help ensure that the voice from every level and touch point of your organisation can be heard.

For example, in October last year the National Trust was hit by accusations of corporate bullying.  The story  was covered over a few weeks in the national media, followed later by reports of a dramatic drop in donations because of the bullying allegations.

Amplifying authentic voices

One of the ways the National Trust has responded to this is to encourage communication from staff at grass roots level:

“PR has already evolved to the point where our gardeners and our teams in the field tell authentic stories about the charity. Those stories don’t always have to come from the press or PR team. Looking ahead, it’s all about widening the network of people who are going to be telling our stories.”

You can read the full article about this in PR Week but the message is clear – use PR to facilitate and amplify the voice and views of people at all levels of your organisation so that your true values and actions can be seen and trusted.

Here’s an example

Our client Cawleys is one of the largest family owned, waste management businesses in the south east.  Like all businesses in logistics, it wants to recruit good HGV drivers. Cawleys is a great place to work, with supportive teams, training, flexible hours etc. It really does deliver on family values as a great place to work.   But all companies says that don’t they?  How do we make it authentic, ensure people trust the message from Cawleys and apply to work there?

We’ve created a campaign across social media to show what a day at work as a driver at Cawleys is really like.  We’ve made sure the driver’s voice is heard as she speaks so well. Yes the person at the wheel of the skip lorry is a brilliant female driver – what better spokesperson than Kayla?

Six steps to build trust in your PR message

1. Back up every statement you make with evidence.  It’s old fashioned but more important than ever.

2. Draw evidence from as many sources as you can.  Evidence includes stories from individuals who can tell their story or describe their experience of your brand or product.

3. Identify your champions.  Keep talking to your people and ask their opinions and you will find someone who has something interesting and authentic to say.

4. Ensure you are using accessible channels or promoting your message – their message –  in the right medium.

5. Make it short and easy to understand.  For example if you are using the Yoast plugin to check your SEO performance on WordPress platforms, when it says make your text shorter, or less dense, it might be an idea to do       that. It is suggesting ways to make your words more accessible.

6. Use different methods of communication. Remember that one in ten adults struggle with literacy, and use videos.  Use captions on your videos for people who can read well, and who watch videos with the sound on mute.

[i] The measurement of trust  survey is from Edelman’s Trust Barometer which has been conducted for the past 17 years. It is based on a survey of 33,000 respondents globally including 1,150 people in the UK during the Autumn of 2016, either side of Donald Trump’s election as US President.