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How the rise of the ethical consumer is transforming B2B marketing

It can often feel that PR disciplines work in opposition. Consumer is creative while financial is formal. B2B marketing (business to business) is highbrow while influencer relations are playful. When we get caught up in these internal turf wars, it’s helpful to come back to the one undeniable fact: our job is to understand people.
Remember your audience

The one thing we all have in common, whether operating in a professional capacity or shopping on a Saturday, is that we’re human. As we know from the consumer space, people attract people to products. Influencers have become the new marketing campaign because human endorsement is key. B2B marketing is exactly the same. We buy from people. Whether that’s for work or leisure. Ask any salesperson.

And people don’t just care about gadgets, gizmos or expensive coffee anymore. Today, we want to know the stories behind the products we’re buying. The ethics of the brands who are selling them. The impact our spending has on the world in which we live.

This is a rapidly evolving environment where there is a clear business benefit in responsible business behaviour. As any company worth its salt already knows, this is not a tick box. Green or ethic wash at your peril.

The birth of Human Business to Human Business communications 

It’s a shift in the consumer-brand dynamic that’s blurring the line between B2B PR and B2C. Company supply chain management was once very much the former. Yet today, we see Waitrose tell the stories of its produce through the farms that supply it. We see Etsy sell gifts based on the provenance of the people who craft them. Perhaps we are witnessing the birth of a new PR discipline – Human Business to Human Business (HB2HB).

B2B PR professionals have a unique position of influence when it comes to business decision-making, as discussed by my PRCA co-chair colleague, Lorraine Emmett in her recent blog. We can reflect these consumer concerns back to our clients and help them understand how their story fits within the media landscape.

We need to behave both as a consumer and as a business if we are to understand the challenges that our clients face, while simultaneously providing insight on how their actions are perceived externally. Communications is a human business and we need a human response. Doing this well demands that we ensure diversity within our own companies – hiring thoughtful, opinionated people who care about the world and the brands they represent.

Are PR disciplines here to stay? 

While it’s too simplistic to say we no longer have a need for differentiation between disciplines, it is essential to understand that buyer journeys are increasingly holistic ecosystems within which we must all collaborate.

As B2B marketing professionals, this is an exciting opportunity. Working more closely with our industry colleagues, we can ensure that our clients align with consumer interests — for more ethical, engaging and effective business outcomes.

One more thing…

The PRCA’s B2B group has launched a new campaign to celebrate excellence within the industry. Coming off the back of what has been an incredibly challenging time for many businesses, the need for good communications with customers and partners has become more important than ever.

Dedicated to helping PRCA members working in the business-to-business sector improve the quality and scope of their practice, the role of the PRCA B2B Group is to identify best practice, highlight new trends, and encourage communication and collaboration between members.

The #LoveB2B campaign will focus on three core moments for B2B marketing PR professionals:

  • Attracting talent
  • Commanding authority
  • Engaging c-suite

For more info please get in touch here. 

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