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B2B Marketers: What gets us through this?

Written by Alex Embling

Mar 24 2020

B2B marketers: what gets us through this? Strategic IC CEO, Alex Embling, outlines key elements that marketers should look at in light of today's extraordinary circumstances.

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I’ve been giving a lot of thought as to what the next few weeks and months look like for Marketing and Sales teams and how the B2B buyer journey is being both temporarily and potentially permanently disrupted.

We’re living through unprecedented and turbulent times where we are having to rewrite or throw out the playbook we had carefully designed only a matter of months ago.

Many CMOs will be asking searching questions of their marketing strategies and investments as major pillars such as in-person events and physical direct mail are now becoming irrelevant. Equally, CMOs are being asked to justify planned spend, and, in some cases, reduce spending on certain marketing activities.

Related: Your Business Event is Cancelled - Now What?

Many CMOs will be asking searching questions of their marketing strategies and investments as major pillars such as in-person events and physical direct mail are now becoming irrelevant.

In times of economic uncertainty it is normal to draw parallels with previous economic downturns such as those caused by the dot.com bubble or the 2008 credit crisis. What is different this time around is that businesses did not create this through underlying weaknesses or poor business practices. This crisis is more a natural disaster on a scale unwitnessed in living memory and one that affects us all.

With a quarter of the world’s population on lockdown and employees now working remotely from home, businesses are looking to ensure they survive and continue to service their clients. 
Marketing has an important role to play in this - whether it be in communicating clearly to customers and the wider community or continuing to develop commercial activity for the organisation.

Let’s be clear. This crisis is not a marketing opportunity that any brand should seek to capitalise on.

Let’s be clear. This crisis is not a marketing opportunity that any brand should seek to capitalise on.

Here are my initial thoughts on what B2B Marketers should be doing now in light of these extraordinary circumstances in which we are living.

What B2B Marketers Should Be Doing Now

Brand

Your brand is now more important than ever. The investment you make now and in the coming months will be critical for the long-term future of your organisation. Think carefully about how you communicate with your customers and the market.

Above all - stay human and unique. What role does your brand play in your customers’ lives and how can your brand help during this crisis? Be considerate and thoughtful with your tone of voice - is that cleverly designed and humorous campaign the right one to run just now?

Think carefully about how you communicate with your customers and the market. Above all - stay human and unique.

It is also key to remain relevant to your audience. Review tone, review message, and continue to be truly helpful to your audience's core needs. A good example of this in effect, is Slack:

be human and relevant

Value

The chances are that most of your current campaign offers, value propositions, and CTAs are out of date and not contextual to the current climate. Upgrade, tweak or design new ones that have little or zero friction in them. Now is not the time to be gating "trust building" content.

Think about your offering. Are there things that you can be doing and offering to your clients that will help them?

Upgrade, tweak or design campaign offers that have little or zero friction in them. Now is not the time to be gating "trust building" content.

Trust

Now more than ever you need to build trust (a.k.a. goodwill) with your clients - current and future. Your content and messaging strategy must reflect this. Review any marketing you have programmed (particularly marketing automation) and ensure that it does not in any way have a detrimental impact on your brand in light of the current environment.

Don’t take advantage of this situation in exchange for a few more leads or deals. Your customers will not readily forget it.

Review any marketing you have programmed (particularly marketing automation) and ensure that it does not in any way have a detrimental impact on your Brand in light of the current environment.

ROI

Focus your spend on those activities that will not only build brand and trust but also generate conversations of value with your clients and prospects. While some clients may not be in a position to purchase from you right now, you can build invaluable relationships with them (and provide important value to them).

Focus your spend on those activities that will not only build brand and trust but also generate conversations of value.

Data

use intent insight

Never before have we had such powerful and insightful data to influence and direct our marketing strategies and targeting. Monitor market sentiment, use buyer intent data to understand the changing buyer behaviour, maximise your first, second and third-party data.

Review your targeting strategy in light of the shift to remote working. Are you able to identify anonymous website visitors or potential buyers who are actively looking to purchase solutions that you provide?

Related: How to Use Intent Data in B2B Campaigns

Monitor market sentiment, use buyer intent data to understand the changing buyer behaviour, maximise your first, second and third-party data.

Agility

Using the data then having the agility to pivot and respond in a timely manner has never been more relevant. Build your sales and marketing processes around these micro data points and allow your internal and external resources the freedom to move fast.

Focus

Now more than ever we need to focus our resources. Data can help us to focus our marketing spend on those accounts that are in an active buying journey, shortening sales cycles and providing the very necessary ROI and revenue that your company needs in the testing times to come.

Now is not the time for cold and unsolicited sales pitches. Use the data to focus your efforts on those accounts that are actively looking for help, then provide that help to them.

What Gets Us Through This

In short, surround yourselves with those you trust and whose opinions you value. Stay true to your brand and most importantly, look after those around you.

These are just some of my initial thoughts. - would be interested in hearing yours.

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