Coming soon: The new normal of B2B marketing

The learning curve for B2B marketing leaders has never been sharper than it is right now, in the wake of the coronavirus – but as I found out on our first digital roundtable, positivity and pragmatism are high. Here are the key lessons and insights from this session.

I spent a refreshing 90 minutes on the phone to a cluster of B2B marketers to learn about their coronavirus continuity planning. I was inspired and invigorated by their candour in sharing their experiences in this challenging time, and reassured by the general sense of positivity with which everyone seems to be approaching the situation.

There were a huge number of fantastic insights and nuggets to come from this roundtable, but here are some of the standout ones (as usual for B2B Marketing Leaders events, Chatham House Rules apply, and names and company names withheld).

1. It’s about people first. The biggest and most significant step that B2B marketing leaders have had to make is adapting their teams to this new world. 

Those unused to permanent physical dislocation, report that (three weeks into lockdown) this is at best, a work in progress, and the learning curve remains steep. We have to keep working hard to ensure staff are motivated, effective and (above all) feeling secure or able to cope. Some marketers are still working out what their business model looks like in the current climate. 

2. Sticking close to your customer has never been so important. Marketers need to proactively understand what they are thinking and feeling, so that they can inform your marketing. Don’t make any assumptions where they’re at right now.. At this specific time, marketers need to be more customer-centric than business-centric. At the moment, no-one is buying and absolutely no-one is selling. The main priority is to be ‘helpful’ to customers right now.

3. Marketing as normal has almost entirely ceased. Almost everything that anyone was planning to do before Coronavirus hit has been postponed at best, or shelved altogether. That includes everything from major international user conferences, to complete global rebrands, to tactical day-to-day content. As one marketer said, ‘we’re checking all our content output to ensure it’s not tone-deaf’. “In the current climate, we’ll be distinguished not by what we do, more by how we do things.”

4. Marketing can and should have a key role in helping B2B businesses rebuild when the time is right – the decisions that marketing leaders take now, and the actions they take will determine how central a role this is, and whether it continues the progress of B2B marketing towards being the true strategic growth engine for the business.

5. We haven’t arrived at the new normal yet. We don’t quite know what that looks like. But it’s coming, and we all need to hang in there, genuinely listen to customers and colleagues, build and leverage our interpersonal networks, and be kind to each other. If we can do that, we’ll be in good shape. 

This is the first in a series of digital roundtables that we’ll be running as part of our B2B Marketing Leaders programme – if you’d like to know more about the programme, or how to take part in future roundtables, please email

Customer Experience in B2B Marketing

Without customers, there would be no businesses; therefore, the B2B Marketing Core Essentials provides information on how to ensure the best CX to customers and not getting lost along the way with leadership advice and the low down on performance marketing.  

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