How to reinvent your B2B marketing strategy in COVID-19
How can marketing leaders add the most value to their businesses in this new uncertain coronavirus landscape we find ourselves in? Like many B2B marketers, my Q2 marketing plan centred largely around events, speaking and networking.
I was looking to build on a major global exhibition and found myself moving from large scale event networking to transitioning our teams overnight to home working.
Like you, I’ve had to put my strategy to one side and draw up a new plan - one that’s quicker and more responsive.
We know that it’s the businesses that can change and evolve who will succeed and recover from this best. And the same goes for marketing; while now isn’t the time to launch a product, it is the time to share what your brand really stands. In the race to go virtual with webinars, Zoom chats and customer networking hangouts, how do you ensure your brand stays both visible and valuable? All while adapting your marketing strategy from your kitchen table?
Start by acknowledging Covid-19
Covid-19 is all anyone’s thinking about - the impact it’s having on health, finances, communities and businesses. You have to acknowledge the crisis in all communications as your starting point, or risk coming across as insensitive or be utterly tuned out.
Yes, talk about other things, but acknowledge what’s happening in the world today. Listen and respond.
Keep your marketing aligned with your purpose - but deliver it differently
It’s not about pushing harder on the marketing messages you had planned. It is about becoming more visible; more than ever we need human connection right now. We can’t go to meetings or events, but we can still connect. I’m working closely with my leadership team to get them on video, getting their expertise and their personalities out in the world so that real people can engage with real people. They’re also being more active on social media.
This tactic’s working well for our sales team too. Rightly, the team – by definition more extroverted and sociable - needs a little more motivation right now.
We’re pivoting but maintaining consistency in messaging; the principles of know, like, trust are very much still at play here.
Lead your customers with empathy
Customers are looking to brands for answers right now. From the outset, we took the position to check in with customers and understand how we can be more helpful. It’s about listening to the challenges they’re facing, and understanding where help’s needed, the anxiety people are experiencing. This means sharing opinions, writing blogs, giving thought to what we can share that people truly want to hear. Now’s the time to genuinely invest in your customer community.
Review your email marketing – upgrade inboxes, don’t drown them
It’s unlikely your customers are waiting for your latest response to Covid-19. But, email marketing offers that direct line of communication, and it’s cost-effective. You don’t want to be another brand contributing to the avalanche of inbox messages. Think more about how you can contribute, lead and support – guidance, added value webinars, insights.
It’s absolutely not the time for aggressive email marketing, but it is the time to connect more thoughtfully. We wanted to offer new and existing customers 121 consultancies to check in on their data strategies and requirements, where they needed help and support, so this was a brilliant way to ensure our message reached them.
Marketing is action
Brand behaviour matters more than ever. As businesses, and individuals, we’ll be remembered for how we show up, how we respond to the current crisis and the needs of others. A couple of weeks ago, our CEO and founder Ed Butler noticed his Y4 son was increasingly frustrated at not being able to log onto his school VLE. So we decided to made additional IT infrastructure available to education platforms for free, helping to manage the huge upsurge in user traffic and minimise any disruption to kids’ home-schooling in this time.
Think human to human, over B2B
Again, people are craving connection in lockdown. Now’s the time for marketers to dig deep into the expert brains in the business, to create the technical content that can make a difference to your audience right now. Take the time to understand what’s needed and bringing solutions to those knotty problems and overwhelming challenges your customers are facing.
Reinvent and repurpose
Take your marketing plan and re-adapt it to respond meaningfully and creatively to the current marketplace. Don’t rush to react - a free consultancy check-in might be more valuable than a group-wide webinar for a stressed out client. As B2B businesses, we also have incredible user data at our fingertips. Lean into this and ensure you’re reaching your customers in this way.
As lockdown continues and the market changes, pivoting and flexing strategies will be essential – things are moving fast right now, so agility is king. For marketing leaders, it’s about staying the course. We will be looking to move towards recovery, and it’s going to be noisy out there. Your marketing strategy will need to be more robust than ever.
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.