contact +44 (0)131 669 5190 - e-mail

CIPR Accredited Practitioner
PHPR animated banner


Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Marketing and PR Channels vs Touch-Points for B2B businesses

Channels and touch-points in B2B marketing and PR

Channels and touch-points are bandied about by marketing people a lot as if they are virtually synonymous, or only slightly different. I think that’s missing a very important point.  
The terms both relate to communications between an organisation and people. I like to think of channels as the routes used for communications while touch-points are the arrival point: the moment that awareness of the organisation or a key message hits home.
"I don’t know about you, but I think there’s a heck of a difference between a journey and the arrival. That's the extent of the shift involved when you switch from channel thinking to people-centric touch-points."
Penny Haywood Calder
Channels is a term that comes from broadcasting. Channels encourage thinking along a top-down broadcasting approach because they are mainly focused on separate delivery routes – routes often based on technology. So mailing, phone or SMS lists are selected on job titles and other hard data, websites are optimised on keywords, with individually optimised landing pages and calls to action for specific campaigns. Magazines are targeted by readership for advertising and press releases; social media advertising and group interactions by socio demographics and/or keyword analytics and content generation on SEO.
Touch-points are people–centric:  the message received at the end of the channel delivery.  By definition they have the potential to touch someone.  They will include ‘touches’ that are only indirectly related to channels, often based on PR-inspired communications: for example, recommendations from family, friends and other trusted sources based on an article they have seen, a report or book read, a TV programme or video watched.  
A touch-point focus may incorporate socio demographics to try and reach similar people to an organisation’s existing customer-base, or ones with an obvious potential need for specific offerings. But they are primarily thinking about how to engage and track interactions with people, spark conversations and build relationships. They often use a personal approach to group people into buyer personas to improve conversations and interactions. They will build up enough key relationships to discuss why they did or didn’t buy. Not just the last touch-point that triggered a decision, but the surrounding influencing factors.  
Touch-points put the focus on people-based communications: so they would naturally tend to favour the personal approach. For example, using video to express individual staff or partner’s personality and demonstrate expertise to accelerate the “getting to know them” phase, rather than outlining features and benefits in an impersonal mailshot, brochure or website.  In higher value B2B sales, the money tends to follow the face, so it’s not surprising that there are dramatic online stories of major gains from engaging video marketing (as opposed to the dreaded “corporate video” – may it R.I.P.).
Some marketers add distance to their use of the term: touch-points, using it to describe the places where potential interaction can take place. I suspect that dilutes the concept: it certainly skews the meaning of the word. It may work for smaller B2C (business to consumer) transactions, but PHPR is more focussed on B2B (businesses selling to other businesses).
In the current climate, where everyone is scrambling around trying to make sense of the rapidly changing social media channels and deliver “integrated communications”, throwing more of the focus onto touch-points rather than broadcasting via channels leads to a more holistic and human approach to communications: and business generally. 

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK. URL: PHPR TV Channel on YouTube: PHPR Ltd on LinkedIn Follow PennyHaywood on Twitter

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by Penny Haywood Calder at


Bookmark and Share



Blogger Amela Jones said...

Is there any further reading you would recommend on this?

B2B marketing

27 January 2015 at 08:01  
Blogger Orewon said...

i am glad to see this.

30 October 2018 at 06:57  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home