Recently, I was conducting some focus groups, part of a research initiative to ascertain “effective communications” by Doremus and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. As I listened to the participants, senior financial and technology executives across a variety of industries, I realized there are certain basics about B-to-B communications that many of us seem to forget in our enthusiasm – and often our rush – to get our stories out there. They are:
- Be concise. B-to-B decision-makers are short on time but big on brains. There’s no need to elaborate on every feature and attribute in your products.
- Balance old and new channels. While most senior business executives are not on the cutting edge of new technologies or new media, they are closer than you think. They consume information in a myriad of ways, traditional media as well as new. However, having said that:
- Don’t overwhelm them with messaging. While multiple channels and touch-points are important to reach them and build awareness, offer them options, i.e., mobile, or email. A direct mail piece or an online white paper. They will appreciate the sense of control over their time.
- Know their business inside and out. Show you’ve done your homework and they’ll take the time to hear what you have to say.
- Balance the rational with the emotional. Business people are people first. They’re more likely to listen to your message if it’s human and engaging as well as factual.
- Relationships are key. Senior executives rely a great deal on relationships with the people at their suppliers. An integrated communications program will drive the message, but familiarity and engagement with your customers will reinforce it.
- Don’t underestimate the role of communications to reinforce purchase decisions. All forms of communications, both broad-based and individualized, should help customers feel smarter for buying your products (and make them more likely to repurchase and recommend them to others).
It’s not rocket science, but these common sense guidelines go far to engender long-lasting relationships between company and customer.
-- Hope Picker, Director of Research, Doremus New York