Should Your PR Program Sell Logic or Emotion?

By Matter

Logical:Emotional as B2B:B2C

Think about the last time you bought something – maybe your morning coffee, a refill on dish soap or your favorite midday snack. If you’re like most consumers, you likely purchased out of force of habit. These habits are driven familiarity, convenience and fulfillment of a basic human emotion whether hunger, desire or status. When you reached for that item, you likely didn’t put thought into ROI or consider the competitive set of products available from other brands. Most likely, your buying decision was somewhat instantaneous.

Now try to recall a time when you made a business purchase – perhaps a new technology to automate day-to-day operations, an emerging platform that could save your company money or time, or both. Decisions to purchase for a business typically require consensus, a review of competitors and evidence of projected ROI. The journey to making a B2B buying decision starts with deliberately identifying a pain point or means to increase profitability. From there, you seek out solutions and, ultimately, select a technology or company to deliver value to your organization. While there may be some room for emotional appeal in a B2B sale, logic is the trump card.  

Core elements of successful PR are universal – storytelling, usage of multiple channels, measurement, etc.- but effective B2B and B2C PR must appeal to the unique ways you buy at home and at work.

Define the buyer

In a B2B setting, a buyer might be identified based on industry, job title/function, the size of the company or geography. Once this has been determined, your PR program should be 100% focused on reaching that target buyer.

For B2C, the process of naming the buyer can be more difficult. This is especially true for mainstream consumer goods with the potential to be used by a wide set of demographics. Typically, factors like age, income level, gender, education and location help shape the buyer persona. With products that appeal to a broad swath of shoppers, creating variations on key messages by channel becomes imperative.

Establish messaging

The best storytelling – whether for a B2B or B2C buyer – will always have some level of emotional appeal. Even a deep tech B2B customer story works best with an affecting payoff at the end. New tech means a data center employee gets weekends back, disaster averted during storm, etc. That said, the core message for B2B should concern itself with ROI. It should reassure a potential buyer your business is dependable, secure and armed to solve pain points.

Consumer messaging should be simple and appeal to more basic human needs. The need can be as simple as the need to eat or as complicated as the need to be viewed as cool, trendy or important. Because the buying process is typically less time-intensive, messaging must accommodate a shorter attention span and lack of appetite for details. Keep your brand promise simple and repeat it often.

Select channels and content

All buyers are influenced by social networks, media, word-of-mouth and online reviews. The spheres of influence that matter most differ between B2B and B2C so your content and influencer strategy should reflect this.

For a makeup brand, taking advantage of a visual channel like Instagram and beauty influencers that reach millions there will push product to your core buyer. That same visual platform won’t sell security software for healthcare organizations.

Oftentimes, there can be a temptation to “be everywhere” in PR and social. Resist the urge and make sure the channels you select have the ability to drive or influence sales.

Measure results by actions

Regardless of the audience, a solid PR program must effectively quantify impact. To do this, decide from the onset how you’ll know if your efforts are working. For a B2C social campaign, look at KPIs like engagement, video views, referral traffic or fulfilment of an offer code. KPIs are often entirely different for B2B and focus on whitepaper downloads, webinar signups, blog traffic or attendance at a user event.

The difference between B2B and B2C PR comes down to the target buyer and how they purchase. Make sure you understand that person and what drives them. Next, find out where they consume media and content, and craft your programs accordingly.