Enterprise vs. Consumer: The Eternal PR Fight

28 Jun Enterprise vs. Consumer: The Eternal PR Fight

Anyone who has worked in the enterprise technology space has had this happen to them:  You kick off with a new client, say a data center automation company.  Everything is going smoothly between the two teams, but then the VP of Marketing, the VP of Sales or the even the CEO breezes into the room, smartphone in hand, for a quick check-in with the new vendor team.

He/she sits down, and the first thing out of their mouth is: “So, when can you get us in [insert consumer technology blog/publication here]?”

An awkward silence fills the room, the client team looks shamefully at their feet, and your PR team has to try and explain something that comes up all too often: Enterprise technology and consumer technology public relations are alike in name only.

It seems obvious enough, but the key differences between the public relations practices driving enterprise and consumer technology campaigns can be lost on those not familiar with either process.  Rather than scream at the ignorant lump (don’t ever use that term) who just smeared verbal excrement (or this one) over your carefully crafted meeting, here are a few handy questions to quickly defuse the enterprise vs. consumer PR debate (that I have actually used):

Who Are Your Buyers?

This is the first question that is often used to help differentiate the consumer and enterprise technology spaces: who is actually buying a company’s technology, either illustrated by anecdotes or buyer personas?  This puts the enterprise and consumer worlds in much sharper focus – CIOs and network engineers are a far different category than gadget-mongers and tech-savvy, stay-at-home moms.

Is Your Price Point Relevant for the Consumer Market?

If the first question wasn’t a wake up call, this one should shake some reality into the room.  Consumer technologies are typically at a far, far lower price point than enterprise solutions – we’re talking exponentially.  Most enterprise-class systems will, to a degree, cost more than the average car.

Where Do You Want to Be a Leader?

Finally, the last question should center on where the dissenter wants their company to be a leader.  Sure, it’d be sexy to be on the front page of Mashable or above the fold on USA Today.  But would that drive more leads than a feature in InformationWeek or Network World for their enterprise product?  Does being read by millions of uninterested consumers mean more to them than getting a poignant message in front of an audience of key buyers only?

The consumer/enterprise debate comes up far more than it should – to be honest, many technology blogs and publications stand in both arenas.  Outlets like Wired and Mashable cover enterprise and consumer technology interchangeably, but at the end of the day, common sense needs to rule:

Should hundreds of thousands of dollars be spent on a vanity project?  Or should that money go towards actually driving sales?

Once money enters the picture, the debate should settle itself.

–John Terrill

John Terrill
jterrill@speakerboxpr.com
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