A guide to B2B marketing in a post-Coronavirus world

Posted by Michael Madden
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Businesses throughout the world are facing new challenges as the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic starts to hit home. 

In order for B2B businesses to keep the lights on, we all need to work smarter to tackle the challenges ahead.

During uncertain times, businesses are tightening budgets, making sure investments are worth it and looking at ways to innovate and become even more efficient at delivering products and services. It is likely that the marketing budget is one of the first to be cut. We saw this during the oil and gas downturn, and we can expect to see this again during the Coronavirus fallout. But that is a short-term fix that will have long-term consequences. Maintaining visibility is essential for long-term profitability and continued investment. 

Your customers are still spending money. They don't want to spend carelessly; they want to buy sensibly from brands they can trust. So here are five steps that you can take to prepare your B2B marketing activity for the difficult months that lie ahead for us all.

1. Work harder to retain your existing customers

We all know that it costs five times as much to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one. Right now you need to keep in touch with your customers or risk losing them. 

In today's digital world, nothing replaces human interaction. As social distancing becomes more and more common, the novelty of meeting face to face with your customers increases. 

To keep up face time with your customers, you need to make sure that you have the required technology to do so. Microsoft teams, Skype and Zoom are all technologies that can digitalise your usual meetings and keep up contact with your customers. 

Engage with your customers by switching your digital strategy towards ABM, personalisation or targeted messaging and create a stream of content that is either insightful or helpful. Share any business innovations that you are making that differentiate you from your competitors, and promote the good news stories that you are generating.

(Click here if you need help developing a content strategy) 

2. Increase visibility with your target market through digital channels 

Now is the time you need to be building brand awareness and increasing visibility. This means increasing your presence on social media, investing more in PPC and developing a flow of new and relevant content.

If you haven’t already done so, spend some time researching your customers sales journey and identify the different stages that your content should be visible, from initial awareness through to the final purchase. Then consider the following options for increasing visibility:

  • Focus on developing high quality conversion content that will be shared or downloaded.
  • Identify any key phrases that you want your brand to be ranked for and produce relevant content. Answer the Public is a useful tool for generating content ideas based on common search terms.
  • Repurpose existing content. If content marketing is part of your marketing toolkit, then you will have a library of content that still provides value to your customers. Now is the time to revisit your content, update it and republish it with the objective of improving your SEO ranking.
  • Use social listening to engage in any conversations where you can add value or insight.

3. Focus on topping up your sales funnel

If your business has a long sales cycle, you need to focus on topping up your sales funnel. Even if you’re busy right now, you need to devote extra time to prospecting and lead generation.

Research is always a good place to start and tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, HubSpot and Lead Forensics will help you understand your target audience further and develop key target accounts.

Once you have developed a target list, lead generation or inbound activity should now be your main focus. Review your social media channels and distribute content through a combination of paid and earned tactics. Focus your attention on developing content that will be shared amongst your target audience and optimise your CTAs.

As our audience moves to remote working, the barriers around video prospecting are now much lower than they have ever been before. If you can use technology to provide product demos or take prospects on digital tours of your business, now is the time to promote these.

4. Measure the impact

Now is not the time to invest time and money into anything that does not provide a solid ROI. If you do not have SMART goals or objectives identified, then you need to define these and review your progress against them on a regular basis.

Tools like Report Garden and DataBox can prove to be useful as they collate analytics from your various channels into one dashboard for quick and easy analysis.

Now is a good time to test different types of organic content whether that is different messaging, imagery or using video to see if there is anything that works better than what you have previously used.

When you identify channels or content that perform particularly well, make sure to share your results with the wider team.

5. Refine, review and repeat

And finally, there is no end point to innovation.

This will be a continuous process. If you create something new and then leave it how it is, it will quickly become dated and your competitors will develop something better.

If you are following step 4 and measuring your impact, you should be able to make incremental and sustainable changes to your processes and strategies over time. Ensuring you are continuing to innovate. And if something is not working, then kill it and try something new. Work smarter.

Navigating out of this global downturn is new to all of us and it will likely be a long, winding road to get back in the full swing of things.

But don’t worry–we’ve marketed our way out of a downturn before, and we will do it again.

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