What distinguishes B2B communication from other communication is mainly based on the more complex services and products offered and what the sales process for these looks like.
B2B and B2C are both the same and different. The obvious difference is, of course, the fact that B2B is primarily about communication between companies, while B2C instead always targets companies directly to the end consumer.
One of the big differences between them stems from the fact that in business-to-business, the services and products are often tailored to the customer's specific needs, which makes the sales process and communication more long-term, focused on problem solving, added value and relationship building.
Another crucial difference is that in B2B communication you do not always target your target group in the same way, but instead communicate directly to those who influence because B2B sales are largely about recommendations. In their purchasing choices, the mass market in B2B is also largely governed by how the leading companies in the industry operate. They, in turn, are greatly influenced by their challengers - the fast-growing companies that gain market share through innovative communication.
Companies who sell to other companies are in a much greater need to be clear and to the point in their communication. B2C companies are judged more on the basis of tangible consumer products. This means that B2B companies have a much greater need to make their overall strengths visible, not only speak about a specific product or service.
A more subtle difference lies in the characteristics of the different communication channels. When B2C communication often involves public campaigns via mass media and resellers, B2B instead involves more direct communication as a close customer relationship. A personal contact and relationship is important because the understanding of the customer's business and needs is crucial.
After all, some principles are universal. In order to communicate effectively, one should clearly convey what potential a company has to meet a specific need in the market. Communication in both B2B and B2C should be adapted to highlight the strengths in a way that the target group is receptive to.
When B2C communication often involves public campaigns via mass media and resellers, B2B instead involves more direct communication as a close customer relationship.
What the two segments also have in common is that the stronger the demand from the end consumer, the higher the price they can charge for their services and products, which is crucial for the B2B companies that do not want to be in the “price war” segment in the market. The solution to this is for B2B companies to create a relationship directly with the end consumer. This means a more complex strategy than with traditional B2C communication as the services and products provided by the B2B provider are often only included as a hidden component in the final solution that reaches the end consumer. A classical example of this is the “intel Inside” co-branding strategy.
B2B communication in the digital landscape and in social media
In the last decade, marketing communication has changed dramatically in step with the rapid development that has taken place in the digital landscape. Social media and new technology create better and faster service and easier contact with distributors.
The new media landscape has brought many changes and B2B companies are starting to look beyond the traditional boundaries and adopt new ideas and approaches. Relationship building initiatives, partnerships and alliances are on the way in and the focus is on the way away from the mass market and transactions. The communication is becoming increasingly individually adapted, not only in terms of address but also in terms of which channels one uses.
A strong trend is information and dialogue as the main tools, while attention-grabbing advertising campaigns and focus on individual messages are disappearing more and more. Nowadays, communication also takes place in a number of different channels and therefore the need for an overall communication strategy that is not limited to a medium has increased sharply in B2B.
Business-to-business communication with the end consumer
Today's B2B communication has expanded to include the consumer market. The democratization of information and the effective communication in social media means that demand and trends follow new different patterns. Digital development has made consumers and end users knowledgeable and influential. At the same time, B2B companies are becoming less hierarchical and collaborations are becoming more cross-border. In this shift, demand is no longer created in the same way, which affects and changes how and where B2B companies communicate.
When developing communication strategies, it is important to know the target groups and trends that affect the customer's customers. By creating demand with the end user, you make yourself more valuable to your partners and in some cases you also expand your own market. New demand means new needs that the company can meet, which in turn generates greater demand in B2B. A B2B company with insights and the ability to influence its customers' own markets can create a position as an industry expert, which means that partners value you based on your brand and not just the price of your products or services. All the companies that have emerged from the "price war segment" in the market have done so by creating strong brands that help their customers in turn sell to their customers.
When developing communication strategies, it is important to know the target groups and trends that affect the customer's customers.
Brand alignment in B2B
When companies enter into partnerships to grow or drive sales, the image of their brands is greatly affected. Strategic collaborations are common in B2B and two brands that are not in line with each other risk losing their market positions in the long run by simply pulling each other down when you are no longer clear about your position. In this context, it is crucial to be aware of brand alignment and what affects whether a partnership is successful or unsuccessful in the long run.
The benefits of fire alignment are many. In addition to being able to increase your market shares quickly within your existing area, this often also means access to completely new markets. Resources can become more readily available and overall efficiency increases.
The risks lie in the interdependence, the fact that one's successes and failures are linked to each other and that it is easy for one's market position to become diffuse when one no longer has a clear area of activity within a specific market.
Brands that have developed over time often have great value in that they generate trust and attraction among the target group.
Research shows that when two brands succeed in a partnership, they are two equal companies that share values and ideals. Often they are also equal in size, which is an advantage as it means that one company does not end up in a dominant position over the other. Partnerships between companies whose values, structure and positions differ too much usually do not last as long, as after the initial advantages one begins to discover the long-term disadvantages. "Equal children play best" seems to be a valid motto in fire alignment.
Brands that have developed over time often have great value in that they generate trust and attraction among the target group. The brand's image is the image that the company conveys in the market and it has been built up of all the different interactions that the market has had with the company and its employees. The qualities associated with the brand often have a human character and people therefore talk about the brand's personality. In line with the scientific descriptions of brand alignment, it is likely that similar brand personalities are a good foundation for successful brand alignments.
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