B2B Marketing During the Downturn: Staying Ready + Relevant in the Coronavirus Crisis
How to Stay Ready + Relevant: B2B Marketing During the Downturn
We’d like to offer some advice and observations to our fellow B2B Marketers during this chaotic and concerning time. So, here are a few thoughts and observations to help you recalibrate and refocus your B2B marketing plans, programs and priorities with the goal of staying relevant to your buyers and customers in our uncertain future.
Shift your focus and budgets to top and bottom of funnel
If you believe this “recession” will last for more than a couple of months, and we do, it will be beneficial to elevate your brand building / thought leadership / community advocacy efforts to become more of your mix than demand gen. Typically we see a 40/60 split in B2B (brand/demand), but that should skew to 70/30 or at least 60/40 in the coming months. Sounds counterintuitive, but it will pay off later.
Cut down mid-funnel spend and focus on seeding the top and closing the very bottom. The prospects in the middle won’t move much for a while. SEO / SEM / Social + Content efforts will be key, both paid and organic. Display can help build brand, but don’t expect much for results until much later.
Enhancing digital experiences and creating reasons to stay connected will be vital. Supplement longer-term website updates/upgrades with buyer-driven landing pages with relevant content and features in the meantime.
Event dollars should to shift to digital experiences (not just your website, or you’ll miss out on meeting new prospects and buyers). Direct mail may not work short term as everyone self-quarantines at home (unless you can get their home address by promising to send them something of value).
Finally, focus on sales enablement content and tools to help convert bottom of funnel prospects who may pull back, but are closer to buying than any new prospect you generate.
Shift your tone, messaging and content
It’s not an exaggeration to say everyone is collectively scared for our loved ones, lives, and livelihoods. So, it’s not the appropriate time to inundate your prospects with sales pitches that aren’t relevant to the situation and emotions at hand.
Work on a messaging/tone audit of your marketing content/ads/assets, plus review all paid ads plus organic/paid social content ASAP. Adjust a few, hold a few back for a bit, and think about what new ads/content you do next. Same goes for your content calendars, and even your sales collateral and presentations.
Readjust and refocus your media channels, looking at narrowing your targeted personas + geographies to those that are performing the best. Doubling down on your core influencer persona who still has a job to do and budget to manage is primary.
Hard to do this next one quickly, but put out a video or at least a web page that signals your awareness and commitment to helping customers’ through these challenging times.
Don’t just do one social post, create a series that tailors your specific solution or ability to be HELPFUL and solve their immediate problems. Be as specific as you can be about their needs and your ability to help.
Shift your short-term thinking to long-term planning
B2B companies have a little more luxury to weather this storm than B2C, our buying/sales cycles are generally much longer. So as you recalibrate your short term plans, don’t forget to keep planning your long term ones.
Maintain a steady-as-she-goes attitude and approach, because generally your buying cycles will be longer than this downturn. But don’t just wait it out, focus on building brand/market awareness and adoption not just driving short-term revenue. This is a great strategy a for an industry leader or challenger who wants to use this opportunity to build mind share now, so they can own market share later.
Product launches that are six months away still need the same diligence now as they did a month ago before you started to consider delaying. And when we start to emerge from this downturn, you’ll thank your lucky stars that you didn’t short-change your budget, timeline or efforts.
Perhaps it’s not meant to be said out loud, but banking some budget with your agency is a smart move, as long as you believe that agency can service you during this time and stay solvent through it (we can / we will). Nothing will relieve the anxiety over wondering what to do next like having a plan and budget for doing what comes next. Plan it, get a PO for it, and get to it!
These Strategies Will Eventually Shift Buyers to Your Brand
We believe B2B marketers’ budgets should tip toward longer-term demand creation and brand building for now, and away from lead gen and conversion programs for a while. So far, we’re not seeing any of our clients pulling back. We’re hearing that B2C agencies’ clients are pulling back, especially media/fees in high-touch industries like entertainment, retail, restaurants.
We hope this information and these ideas helps you successfully navigate the next! We’re here for you + with you. Good luck + good health!