Successful B2B Marketing Tactics for Public Sector and Charity
Better B2B Marketing 16 – Successful B2B Marketing Tactics for the Public Sector and Charities

Engaging with businesses can be critical for many public sector organisations and charities.

Public sector organisations involved in health, education, local government, business regulation, economic support – and many other areas – often have announcements, initiatives or legislation which they need the business community to engage with.

Charities – particularly those involved in health, care or social causes – often look for business involvement or sponsorship to boost fundraising and awareness.

However, businesses and businesspeople are busy and many may feel they don’t have time to engage with the public sector or charities. This is particularly true if they don’t see the relevance – or anything of benefit for their business!

So, if you’re a public sector or charitable organisation keen to engage with the business community – and want to know some hints and tips on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to marketing – keep reading:

The Difference Between B2B and B2C

Firstly, when marketing to businesses, it’s good to keep in mind the difference between Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumers (B2C) marketing.

Consumers (you or I) typically make purchases to satisfy an emotional need, like hunger, pleasure or status. Consumers typically need little interaction with the brands they choose and tend to make quick-buying decisions – largely on their own.

Burst marketing (an intense campaign over a short period of time) often works well for reaching consumers as they tend to make rapid and less informed decisions.

Alternatively, businesses tend to make more rational purchases of the things they need to help maintain or grow their company. The decision process is typically longer and involves more people. They like more information and to have longer-lasting relationships with the brands and suppliers they choose.

Drip marketing is typically more effective for B2B, where a mix of marketing channels is used to communicate a consistent message over a longer and sustained period of time.

Whilst consumers simply want to be happy with their purchases, businesspeople often want to be seen by their colleagues and peers to be making good decisions. This is something which the public sector and charities can use to their advantage.

What’s Your Motivation?

Public sector and charity organisations typically require the businesses they engage with to take action or do something to support their initiative or cause. Marketing-wise, it’s thus critical to identify a motivating factor.

‘You get more with the carrot than the stick’ is an old saying which typically holds true with businesses. Spelling out the benefits of engaging with an organisation or charity will typically be the most effective marketing tactic.

The exception is with changing legislation or other demands on businesses. Sadly, the most effective way to encourage businesses to engage with something bureaucratic or cumbersome is often to highlight the negative consequences if they do not comply. For most other situations, it’s about accentuating the positive…

Make it a Win-Win Situation

In most cases, the best way to encourage businesses to act is to draw attention to the benefits for them!

Public sector and charity marketing to businesses is typically most effective when it’s a win-win situation for all parties. To gain and maintain the attention of businesses, you will likely need to highlight what’s in it for them.

Busy businesses and businesspeople are reluctant to engage with things outside their day-to-day agenda unless they feel there is a tangible benefit.

With public sector and charity marketing, the most alluring and compelling bait is typically marketing itself. In essence, if the business engages with your initiative, project or fundraising – which may typically centre on supporting an area of the community or environment – the business can promote its involvement for its own advantage!

How to promote this involvement is not always obvious, so public sector and charity marketers must be creative and persuasive – painting a picture with which busy businesses can engage.

Businesses may not behave entirely like consumers but they are still made up of humans, so your marketing can still seek to create an emotional response from the decision-makers within. This is particularly relevant if you are a children’s, health-based or community charity.

By working for a well-known organisation or charity, businesses can create a buzz around their own brand whilst at the same time increasing the awareness of your initiative, campaign or charity.

This type of marketing is reciprocal as both parties get something out of the partnership. It’s at the heart of why charities in particular search out corporate sponsorship. Businesses and charities can achieve much more by working together to address social and environmental issues.

Who Should You Target?

Who to target is an important question.

If you are looking to change behaviours (often the aim of public sector organisations) or raise awareness (often the aim of charities) then it’s important to approach business of sufficient size and status.

Businesses with existing charity involvement or an existing CSR policy are often most receptive. Corporate Social Responsibility is a broad term used to describe a form of self-regulation in which businesses aim to be ethical and socially accountable for their impact on the society and the environment.

As the ‘reward’ for the business is typically centred around promotion and positive public relations, businesses who already have a notable public profile – including significant local employers – are often best.

B2B Marketing for the Public Sector

So, let’s have a look at the practical tactics of B2B marketing for public sector organisations.

Public sector campaigns targeted at the business community often focus on preventing, preparing-for or dealing-with issues which may impact the business community, businesses or their employees. These can include changes in regulations, encouraging new behaviours (such as better workplace mental health) or business support/economic development initiatives.

Public relations (PR) can be critical. It’s important to gain wide and sustained awareness of the initiative. Local and business media are often more receptive to public sector initiatives, though more cynical too. Hosting or attendance at business events (covid-permitting) are other ways to raise awareness.

When budgets permit, direct marketing by mail or email is perhaps the most immediate way to target businesses and the decision-makers within them.

Digital marketing is increasingly used by the public sector to reach businesses, particularly social media. LinkedIn can be very effective at reaching decision makers and influencers. More consumer-focused social media like Facebook can also be effective by creating general awareness in local areas which quickly trickles down to businesses.

A full-mix and cohesive marketing strategy is always best for maximising results from every channel. Increasingly, content marketing is a critical tool for the public sector.

Engaging and valuable content marketing – disseminated through digital marketing, direct marketing, public relations and social media – can reach many corners of the business community. This can include infographics, statistics, blog posts, how-to guides, eBooks, reports, press releases and apps.

There is a wealth of content that could be produced. What’s critical is that the content is of value and interest to the intended audience. When compiling a piece of content always keep in mind who it’s for and why they would choose to engage with it.

B2B Marketing for Charities

So, let’s have at the practical tactics of B2B marketing for the charity sector.

Charity organisations have at their heart a purpose and mission that makes them special. Their marketing requirements are special too.

Often, they are operating under constrained budgets, with potential social, political and media scrutiny. Their business-to-business marketing strategies therefore have to be sensitive to the emotive nature of what they support – but impactful and compelling enough to be noticed above other charities.

Key-decision makers such as senior management or directors are often most accessible, receptive and influential. However, do not underestimate the ‘pester power’ of more junior colleagues who may be personally invested in the aims of the campaign.

Personal relationships are often critical in gaining support for charities. This is why many employ teams of fundraising staff to build close ties.

Public relations (PR) can be very powerful. In particular, leveraging the existing support of businesses to attract others. Local press, media and social media tend to be very receptive to charity events and initiatives – again, another way to pursued businesses to become engaged. Being an active member of the business community, both at physical events and online (particularly LinkedIn) can be effective.

Direct and digital marketing are highly effective ways of targeting decision makers and influencers within businesses. However, the cost needs to be considered for smaller charities.

Again, content marketing can be key. Through social media, public relations and direct marketing, content can have a wide reach.

Despite the prominence of digital marketing, don’t underestimate the impact of something physical – such as a brochure, flyer or newsletter. They can be widely retained and actioned.

Get a Full Mix of Marketing

Engaging with businesses can be difficult for organisations more familiar with the public, volunteer or charity sectors.

To be engaging, you need to think like a business, whilst also making the most of all the attributes that make your cause unique, important and worthy.

We’re East Anglia’s leading B2B marketing agency, specialising in delivering a full mix of marketing for those who need to engage with businesses and other organisations. As a full-service agency we can provide as much or as little of your strategic, digital and creative marketing as you need. We can even act as your entire outsourced marketing team.

If you’re a charity or public sector organisation looking for help with your B2B marketing, get in touch: