Communication Strategies in B2B Markets

A high degree of innovation and the impact on several departments make purchasing decisions in B2B markets very complex. Therefore suppliers in B2B markets have to inform their customers very well to reduce the buyers’ risks on the one hand and to strengthen their own competitive position on the other hand.

Objectives of communication

  • inform prospects about company’s products/services
  • provide information to give potential customers the opportunity to check products according to their needs
  • offer possibility for immediate trial of products/services
  • aim regular purchasing
  • create large sales volume

Communication tools

  • personal selling
  • advertising
  • Internet
  • Direct Mail
  • seminars
  • trade fairs
  • press releases
  • telesales

Choose appropriate communication tools for different objectives

increase knowledge about products: advertising, trade fairs, public relations
create positive image: advertising, trade fairs, public relations
decrease cost of demand: trade fairs, public relations
create trust in quality of products/services: personal selling, public relations
create trust in performance of company: trade fairs, personal selling, public relations

Timeline of communication process

  1. public relations – to create knowledge
  2. advertising –  to provide information about products and company
  3. sales promotion/trade fairs – give information about usage of products, communicate advantages for customers
  4. personal selling – persuade customer that product/service is the appropriate tool to solve customer’s problem

Public relations

have to address the following publics:

  • customers
  • employees and unions
  • shareholders and banks
  • suppliers
  • government authorities
  • media and other opinion leaders


  1. What are the aims of marketing communication in B2B markets?
  2. Name classical communication tools affecting the customer
  3. Describe the different stages of the communication process in B2B markets
  4. How are information and risk linked in B2B purchasing decisions?
  5. Why might public relations be more important in B2B markets than in B2C markets?
  6. Explain the function of PR.
  7. Name the most important publics/target groups of public relations in B2B markets?


Godefroid, P. (2003). Business-to-Business-Marketing. In H. C. Weis (Hrsg.) Modernes Marketing für Studium und Praxis. Ludwigshafen (Rhein): Kiehl



The Culture Triangle Model

The culture triangle is a model showing that three categories determine how people behave and how they interact: communication, organization and leadership.

Communication is
centred on language, nonverbal communication and other behaviour that gives messages about our expectations and beliefs.

The other two categories relate to values. The first is a set of values about organizations and the role of individuals within it. How work is organized.
The second is a set of values about leadership.

Culture is a system that enables individuals and groups to deal with each other and the outside world.

The three pre-dominant categories of cultural behaviour are:
communication, leadership and organization

Corporate cultures are determined by the interaction of parent culture, technology and external environment.
Review questions:

  1. Explain the term “culture triangle” and describe the model.
  2. What does culture do?
  3. What are the three pre-dominate categories of cultural behaviour?
  4. Which ways of classifying corporate culture do you know?

PowerPoint presentation on culture


Reading between the lines

In order to become well-informed adults, it’s a good idea for you to develop the habit of reading the news and keeping informed on important topics, such as world-events, business and economy, politics, environment, geography and culture. With overwhelming amounts of information available both in print and online, it is critical that you learn to read new stories by determining their source and recognizing their viewpoints.


  • analyse several new articles to determine their source, purpose and biases
  • assess the purposes and viewpoints at BBC…
  • create checklists to use when reading new articles in the future

Communication skills

  • acquiring information
  • organising information
  • analysing information


Define the following words, write down a definition and provide examples for each word. Make sure the definitions are accurate.

  • bias
  • objectively
  • news
  • editorial


Create a chart with five columns. In the first column write the questions listed below, each in a row.

  1. What is the article about?
  2. Who is the publisher?
  3. What is the source (if it was written by someone other than the publisher)?
  4. What is the purpose of the article?
  5. Are there biases or obvious points of view?

Communication revision questions

Revision questions

1. Fill in the gaps:

  • I’d like to ____________________________the idea that…….
  • If you agree to our price proposal, then we will accept your ____________________terms.
  • If you give us 4 per cent ______________________________, then we will sign
  • the__________________________________.
  • We can _______________________________that.
  • What if the ___________________________ ____________________________ goes down?
  • High quality? Can you _________________________________?

2. Describe the BEST-model.

3. Fill in the gaps.

International negotiators should be able to

  • deal with ____________________ _______________
  • __________________________________ as others see it.
  • express themselves in a way that ____________________________________________.

4. What are the key attributes of a successful negotiator?

Answer key

1. put forward; delivery; discount, contract; go with; exchange rate; specify


B for building relationships

E for exchange information

S for structural bargain

T for total commitment

3. ambigous situations; see the world; everyone can understand

4. the willingness to take risks; the ability to think under stress; stamina and patience



an informal talk involving a small group of people or only two


talk in a friendly informal way


the process of discussing something

a conversation about something

an argument:

a conversation or discussion in which two or more people disagree

Handout Communication Key Terms


Communication channel. Downward communication. Formal vs. informal communication. Information technology. Intranet. Noise. One-way-communication. Team briefings. Two-way communication.

Essay questions.