Why B2B Communications Becomes All The More Relevant During The Pandemic?
As soon as we were looking at a faint ray of hope with the vaccine introduction in the world health horizon and suddenly we find that Europe has become the next epicentre of the pandemic with new strains of the virus finding its way. 2020 impacted all our lives with an onslaught of fear and uncertainties but as the year comes to a close, we are still clueless about 2021. The effects of the virus on the global economy has been catastrophic and stock markets across the world have had not one but several bloodbaths. While oil markets have cratered, retail sales have troughed, travel sector is reeling on the mat and the service sector has contracted, layoffs are rampant though we are all keeping a stoic face in the face of looming uncertainties that don’t seem to go. Businesses are not only losing money but also conversions and traffics as their ad spends are shrinking. In a situation like this, B2B communications have gained paramount importance to brands. Connecting the value of communications to business results is also going to be the new norm as the pandemic has taught the same to marketers in order to stay afloat and consolidate. And companies who don’t act may soon lose their relevance in the future:
Brand Narratives & Their Impact on The Top Line
The B2B environment is not entirely different than the B2C. While the processes are different but the consideration to buy or stay invested in the brand is driven in the same way which is about the brand’s image and reputation. Those brands that have been seen standing by their customers & stakeholders, who have innovated their products & services to meet the changing needs of the buyers, who have paid dividends (even though small) despite plummeting stock markets and those who have come across as genuinely concerned and not as if exploiting the pandemic situations are the ones who would be the future multi baggers. As in the B2C environment, mere awareness doesn’t influence a buying behaviour, similarly in the B2B world, only the brands that move from awareness to consideration to recommendation (and later loyalty) are the ones who would see a rally in their toplines.
Influencing the Influencers (Stakeholders)
Success in the commercial space where business deals happen is highly influenced by its regulator communities, investors, employees & potential employees, peer group and even competition. And like any B2C communication it becomes rather important to increase the stake of the brand amongst these target audience groups. A strong brand and its fundamentals is an asset with its various stakeholders (which is not just the investors but the entire group of various influencers who may necessarily not be invested in the company) other than its customers. Though communication with these group of influencers never comes in the forefront like how a brand communicates with its customers, yet it plays a significant role. Communications with these relevant groups, influence the decision-making process, creates perceptions and helps in creating positive valuation for the brand.
Brand building and reputation building are two different concepts. While brand building is a customer-centric approach reputation building is a company-centric approach that focuses on the credibility of the brand & respect among its category stakeholders. Reputation building influences public opinion and we all know how much public scrutiny is vital to any making or breaking of a brand. This aspect of reputation building is a strong trend in B2B communications and another reason why a communications function can & must play a strategic and vital role in the company.
Doing more and to a new standard with the same amount of resources will not be possible unless we think creatively and adapt faster to technologies. Marketeers will have to embrace the new, be experimenting and drop the linear way of working. As working from home will remain steadfast in 2021 and perhaps for years to come for vast swathes of markets, the need to prioritize and accepting that the B2B stakeholder is another human, will rule the conscience.