Eight tips for B2B communication in the new year

Appropriate and authentic person-to-person communication is - also for B2B companies - the be-all and end-all to maneuver through difficult times in particular. In her guest article, Venera D'Elia from Möller Horcher provides eight tips that communication professionals should definitely consider in B2B 2021.


1. keep the communication strategy in view

Especially in times of crisis, it is by no means advisable to go headlong into communications. What is needed is a concrete strategy that is individually targeted at the various stakeholders. In addition, it is important to include all communication channels and to strive for holistic, integrated communication. This is the only way B2B companies can create a professional and authentic image of themselves in the public eye and in the eyes of the target group.

It is also important to be clear in advance about the goals of the strategy and the individual communication measures. Visibility, thought leadership, more leads, or growing website traffic are all attractive goals, but they can be approached in very different ways. And it is only on the basis of goals that critical communications controlling and consequently effective optimization are possible in the first place.


2. convince from the first touchpoint - with good content

Even before Corona, customer journeys were increasingly digital, and the trend continues. For companies, a customer relationship begins less and less often through personal contact. In their search for the right solution to their own challenges, potential customers initially consume a whole range of content anonymously. This increasingly happens online - on websites, in digital portals, in online media or in social networks. Today, the first touchpoint is almost always content - whether in text, graphic, audio, or video format - and people usually use this to make an initial judgment about a company. Here, it is the task of B2B companies to use content to make the first decisive moment of contact as authentic and convincing as otherwise only a personal conversation can.


3. getting to know customers - via customer dating

The first moment of contact is decisive, but not conclusive. Anyone who goes on a blind date is unlikely to come back with a marriage proposal. A blind date is also the first customer contact, as it were, if it takes place on the website, in an online magazine, or in social media. B2B companies shouldn't just walk in the door with a concrete offer; instead, they need many convincing and inspiring dates - in the form of content, product samples, webinars, or workshops - in order to gradually get to know the people who are potentially interesting from a sales perspective and win them over - keyword lead nurturing.

Even if the interested parties initially only (want to) data digitally, authentic communication is needed to create trust and to position oneself as a reliable partner and solution provider.


4. always stay in contact

Especially in difficult times, it is indispensable to stay close to one's own target group and consequently also in contact with them. Especially those B2B companies that can no longer serve their clientele as usual (temporarily or for a longer period of time) depend on maintaining communication. Here, the website is the hub for updates and contact opportunities, but also other digital channels such as social media, telephone and e-mail.

It is therefore advisable for the future to maintain sustainable relationships with customers, partner companies and all other stakeholders and thus to preserve the humanity of these connections. Digital communication should not be seen as a threat to personal relationships. On the contrary, it allows B2B companies to maintain secure direct contact - despite contact restrictions.


5. making sales communication smart

Social networks are not only a popular communication channel, but also a lucrative way to build a relationship with the customer as part of the sales process and thus increase the probability of closing a deal. 2020 has shown that digital channels or tools are sometimes the only way to establish or maintain contact with (potential) customers. With the help of intelligent technologies, B2B companies can find out, for example, which companies - that is, legal entities and not natural persons - are cavorting on their website and what exactly they are looking at there, in compliance with data protection regulations. This information provides a good basis for identifying decision-makers in these companies and contacting them without obligation via the social networks.


6. provide reliable and memorable information 

To find the right provider, B2B decision-makers have to deal with a flood of information. This overload has increased again in the past year, and with it the danger of misinformation and fake news. But in order to both capture the attention of the target group and provide them with content orientation, B2B companies must prove the reliability and authenticity of information. This requires verifiable data on the one hand and an attractive presentation of these on the other.

If figures are not presented as simple diagrams and lists, if they are linked to a story that can be experienced and if they are visualized in an appealing way, the messages are more credible and can be better anchored in the long-term memory. It is important to concentrate on the essentials, to keep the cognitive load on the person addressed as low as possible, and never to lose sight of the target group and its needs.


7. focus on gender-sensitive language 

In B2B communication, companies do not always know immediately which people belong to the group of decision-makers. Consequently, it is always necessary to address all genders equally. While human resources and the public sector in particular already take all gender identities (male, female, diverse) into account here, B2B communication will also increasingly look for alternatives to the so-called "generic masculine", for example the customer or the reader, in the future.

Gender-sensitive language does not have to be reader-unfriendly: Instead of using both terms, for example customers, or the gender asterisk, for example readers, neutral terms such as target group, stakeholders or readership can be used. It is important to understand here that this is not a cultural language change, but a political one. Consequently, gender-appropriate language is not a mandatory to-do in marketing, but it may reveal the gender mindset of a B2B company.


8. trustworthy marketing: not chasing every trend

Of course, it is important to update and develop in B2B communication as well. But many people talk about trends, when in fact they are only grand visions, some of which cannot yet be implemented. Not only is it increasingly difficult in times of crisis to identify trends at all, let alone follow them consistently, it also becomes less important in the face of major events. After all, it is more important than chasing the latest hype to focus on the needs of one's own target groups and to win back their trust through proven as well as reliable marketing measures. What such "trustworthy marketing" can offer is stability and at the same time an optimistic outlook for the future.


Conclusion: It's the people who count

Advancing digitization and the developments resulting from the Corona pandemic are calling for a rethink, not least in the communications industry. At the same time, both bring with them the opportunity to open up new paths to one's own target groups, to reflect on proven measures, and to show oneself to be approachable despite contact restrictions. The exchange and cooperation with other communication professionals helps. And especially when professional and industry events have to be canceled and personal meetings postponed, constructive cooperation and cross-discipline collaboration are essential for the further development of B2B communication.

This also includes willingly sharing one's own know-how and experiences so that others can learn from them. The digital world creates the best conditions for giving impulses worldwide - and for discovering inspiration. But the driving force here is and remains people.

* Venera D'Elia has strengthened the communications team at Möller Horcher in Offenbach. The mother of two is now Head of Business Development and Senior Consultant. The agency specializes in the complex issues of business-to-business communication for IT and high-tech companies.

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