In fact, B2B is a large and growing market that presents unique practical and strategic challenges that make it one of the most exciting segments of the PR industry.
If you think Gen Z is hard to reach, then try catching the eye of a C-suite exec with a $100m budget.
The criticism that B2B lacks excitement and creativity couldn’t be more wrong.
The creative ask
Campaigns in this sector often target small, knowledgeable and highly discerning audiences, meaning that creativity is more vital than ever if you’re going to grab the attention of your target audience. The level of thought and insight that needs to go into a campaign intended to reach corporate buyers swamped with commercial approaches would surprise the most dedicated creative in the consumer market.
B2B also requires its practitioners to have a level of industry understanding not seen outside the most technical financial or regulatory comms challenges.
The complexity of B2B briefs, whether in terms of arcane technologies, byzantine regulatory structures or extended industry value chains means that the B2B PR exec must show a level of expertise in their market that few others require.
Winning on measurement
Perhaps most important is that, while B2B might not have the glitzy campaigns and recognisable mainstream brands of consumer or the high-profile deals and crises of corporate and financial, it’s a market that continues to deliver real value for clients.
While PR measurement too often relies on tortuous levels of inference to identify PR’s contribution to campaign goals, B2B campaigns – when done well – can often show a satisfyingly direct impact on the bottom line.
It is these challenges and opportunities, of complexity, of audience and value, that make it so exciting.
Innovation thrives on constraints and that can be seen in how B2B has developed in recent years.
More often than not, media relations is the icing on the cake of a B2B campaign, not its raison d’être, with new approaches and tactics leading the way.
Innovative, blended approaches that combine the best of PR, advertising, events, DM and digital are now the standard for B2B, driven by the challenges and constraints of the segment.
With global B2B spend in excess of $20tn, B2B is not a market to be sniffed at for the PR industry.
Moreover, for an agency, it is an industry that enables you to build a strong sectoral reputation and often offers the long-term recurring revenues that provide for sustainable growth.
So maybe B2B isn’t as glamorous as flogging toothpaste or as eye-catching as pushing the latest IPO, but it’s creative, it’s challenging, it’s good business and it works. It’s sexier than you think.
Patrick Herridge is chairman of Bluestripe Group