From Message to Movement: An Important Reminder for B2B Communicators

Last month, I was reminded that B2B organizations face a big challenge; they need to connect with end-audiences by thinking more like consumer bands, without losing sight of message and mission.

The scene of my “ah-ha” moment was a fundraiser for Stand up to Cancer at the Four Seasons Hotel in NY, NY.  The audience for this event was split among bankers, clinicians, corporate sponsors, researchers, donors and patients – a group that mirrors the mix of professional and consumer organizations in our firm’s healthcare and financial services practices.

Among the speakers was an all-star cast of clinicians (Dr. Craig Thompson, President and CEO of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center); industry executives (Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, Chancellor of USCF and former President of Product Development at Genentech) and entertainment industry executives (Rusty Robertson, Sue Schwartz).  Despite their credentials, the speakers focused on patient stories and treatment milestones.  There were no detailed posters or prospectuses, no dense facts or complicated algorithms.

Instead, speakers showed video footage of patients, scientists and advocates coming together to battle a common enemy.  “This is where the end of cancer begins,” a fact sheet proclaimed.

In an age of big data and robust clinical trials, SU2C is a good reminder that clear, relatable language is a universal translator.  Science is critical.  Financials legitimize.  But common purpose is what makes messages sticky and memorable.  Everyone knows someone who has suffered from cancer.  Everyone wants to accelerate groundbreaking cancer therapies and save lives.

SU2C underscores this sense of shared purpose by attaching names and stories to its high-profile mission.  Testimonials are the common denominator that cut across audience groups and occupational silos.  Despite the special (and often competing) interests of researchers, investment bankers, clinicians and patient advocates, SU2C gets B2B and B2C audiences working together, united in a common cause.

The organization’s mission statement is part-poem, part-call-to-action.  It is almost devoid of data (in the conventional sense of the word):

  • Cancer takes one person every minute…
  • They are our brothers, our sisters, our fathers and mothers, our husbands and wives, our best friends, our children, ourselves.
  • Every day in America 1,500 people die despite the fact that the means to save them are literally within our reach.
  • To wait any longer for someone else to save our lives and the lives of those we love is unforgiveable.  We must act now.

As healthcare and financial services firms wrestle with new ways to connect with B2B and B2C audiences, SU2C is a good reminder that human faces and stories translate across audiences.  Data is powerful.  Experts are essential.  But shared purpose knits audiences together across geographies, segments, job descriptions and diseases.

What organizations do you most admire for their ability to communicate effectively with both consumer and professional audiences?  What lessons can B2B and B2C communicators teach one another?

Connect with Meg:

Phone: 212.840.0095
Twitter: @megwildrick
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