HomeDissertation:Rethinking BtoB Communications from the Perspective of Involvement

Rethinking BtoB Communications from the Perspective of Involvement

6.Revisiting Project Communication in the BtoB World

In the following, I will try to expand the above discussion in line with the context of BtoB communication. The direct objective of BtoB marketing, stated in simple terms, is to “influence the decision maker.” What makes this more complex than BtoC is the fact that in the business world, there is usually more than one person making decisions or having an influence on decisions with regard to a product. Of course, similar situations exist also in the BtoC scenario, such as when buying a car or electrical goods for a household, where the money may come from the head of the household but the actual decision is made by the wife and children. In BtoB, however, it is usually a complex entity called the “organization” that makes purchasing decisions, with the decisive points not limited to a single factor.

In BtoB situations, when dealing with regular customers, face-to-face contact often plays a role, so that a human relationship is at the core, while the net is utilized as an extension of the deal. If we apply the above model, net utilization applies to the SAS process. This is because BtoB communication is claimed to emanate from the web (company site) or other owned media.

Business goods usually are characterized by a high level of involvement, which might suggest that the transaction could be completed in the realm of SAS, but there are two problems with this approach. One pertains to the fact that the bar for acceptance by high-involvement persons is quite high (the same applies to in-person marketing talks), and the other is that SAS-based marketing communication aimed at high-involvement persons is not sufficient when there are multiple decision makers.

I have previously suggested a concept called “project communication” as a framework for BtoB communications (see Figure 2). The concrete objective of BtoB communications will differ for each business, but in general it will be centered around “marketing activity support” and also be aimed at “management support.” Furthermore, the evolvement of the net has resulted in another aspect, namely, the implementation of actual marketing activities through e-commerce and so on.

Project communication is a systematic representation of the means to achieve these aims. It divides communications by businesses in the BtoB context into two types according to intent, namely, “customer-oriented communication” and “society-oriented communication.” Customer-oriented communication is an exchange about “values” with customers, including potential customers. Besides in-person marketing activities, it is mainly carried out through communication channels where targets can be specified, such as interactive websites, SNS, trade shows, and other events. Society-oriented communication, on the other hand, is the propagation of “values” to society at large (also including various stakeholders other than customers). It is mainly carried out through communication channels that have a social context, centered on mass media and PR techniques.

A “project” can be seen as an effective catalyst for assembling comprehensive communication. In order to create a synergy effect between the two types of communication, it is useful for a business to define what its intent is and what it wants to do (the project) and share the concrete values of that project (undertaking, process, product) with the customer segment, while also widely communicating the broader context and the social relevance of the project to a wider audience. By positioning the project as the central axis, support for marketing activities and management can be pursued in an integrated and comprehensive manner.

The two types of communication that make up project communication were originally conceived because businesses in a BtoB situation will not be able to create sufficient contact points with society through product-oriented communication alone. However, the concept is also useful when applied to the two communication spheres of AI and SAS, as explained earlier in this article. For BtoB, even when thinking only of the customer, there is always the organization in the background, and various other stakeholders also have to be considered. This makes it even more desirable to be aware of the need to take into account the two communication spheres, namely, those for high-involvement and low-involvement recipients with regard to one’s own company.

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