The Coronavirus pandemic has been scary, to say the least. The unpreparedness of the world has brought us at a juncture where the future appears hazy and uncertain. Everyone is affected by the outbreak in one way or another. Schools and colleges have shut down. Employees have either been laid off or are working from home.
What the Coronavirus Pandemic Means in the B2B Landscape
While the COVID-19 pandemic influences us in some shape, size, or form, it has damaged some sectors more than others. For instance, the travel and tourism industry or retail have dipped to an all-time low and may suffer from long-term losses.
Several enterprises that had been functioning like well-oiled machines have come to a grinding halt, while small businesses are forced to shut down. While the knee-jerk reaction of isolation and lockdowns are helping to plank the curve, the imminent economic slowdown is also something worth worrying about.
However, now is a good time as any to buckle up, pull up your socks, and get hustling. Gearing up and working on your business during trying times like these is what will differentiate your business. Think of this obstacle as a challenge to reengineer your processes to breathe a new life into your business.
Considering that sales and marketing will be worst-hit by the pandemic, adopting a few proactive measures can turn the tables around. First things first, B2B companies must acknowledge that all traditional marketing models have been disrupted. Brands are now opting-in for online marketing and digital ads over other alternatives. There are various changes that B2B organizations will have to incorporate to adapt before they perish.
Thus, if you are looking for ideas and inspirations, this post covers the B2B Marketing and Sales Strategies to get you inspired and started!
B2B Marketing and Sales Strategies During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Many panic-stricken business owners have started to halt their marketing operations. Sure, your business will experience revenue erosion in the months to come. However, adopting such a strategy will make it harder for your business to recover in the long-term when things become normal.
In fact, nobody knows when normalcy will resume. However, there is absolute certainty in the belief that we are in this together, and we will recover. The competitive landscape has made it almost mandatory for companies to stay active. Thus, if your business is stagnating in the marketing sphere, it will start falling behind.
Now is the time to diversify your B2B Marketing Strategies, and here are some tips and tricks on how to make the most of the current situation:
1. Revaluate Marketing Budget
As a rule of thumb, The US Small Business Administration recommends that companies must spend about 2% to 5% of their sales revenue on marketing. While this figure changes depending on the size and nature of your business, allocating 7% of your gross revenue for advertising is a bare minimum.
It is suggested that you stick to this marketing investment rule for maintenance purposes, even during the Coronavirus pandemic. Even though your business growth may be slow, do not budge from this number. However, redistribute the marketing budget more smartly by choosing to pragmatism over emotions.
For example, you can cut down on paid advertising as your customers can no longer physically visit you. On the other hand, you can allocate this budget to inbound marketing and SEO, as they will continue to reap benefits even in the long run.
Gaining organic traffic will enhance engagement and build a loyal audience base. You can gain traction across various channels by producing high-quality content. Once your website starts to rank higher, it will easily overtake your competitors. Thus, you can bounce back faster and emerge on the top when things are back on track.
Expected Marketing Budget Shifts due to Covid-19 Pandemic Source
2. Be There for Your Customers
Every marketer worth their salt knows that it is easier to retain existing clients than carry out outreach campaigns for new customers. Hence, connect with them and make them feel invaluable. Check up on your loyal customers in the form of emails or newsletters.
Feel free to be vulnerable, raw, and honest with them. Talk about the current global situation, how it affects your client, make them feel safer and calmer, and, most importantly, offer them help in any way possible. You don’t have to make high promises that you cannot keep. However, do make an effort to maintain transparent and sincere communication with the customers.
You can let them know if your business is partnering with organizations or diversifying its role. Hence, you can market newer services that you are offering in addition to the existing ones. Alternatively, you can announce bulk ordering facilities, discounts, or free deliveries to encourage sales. However, avoid exploiting this situation. Businesses must practice empathy while marketing their services. Refrain from trying out anything too dramatic and salesy that neither reassures your clients nor adds value to their lives.
Focusing on your existing clients is a critical marketing tactic. On the other hand, empathizing with them is Humanity 101.
3. Run Innovative Marketing Campaigns
If there are some stellar marketing ideas that your company has been meaning to test out, it would be smart to act upon it now. A mix of innovation and creativity in your B2B Marketing Strategies can drag you out of this rut. In fact, you can utilize this opportunity to give your brand a complete makeover!
Marketers are creating rapid-response operating models to make a statement or to spread a social message. It allows you to connect with individuals on a personal level and express that you care. Redefine your branding and make changes to your logo or tagline to promote public safety. Appeal to the masses to stay at home, practice social distancing, and other safety measures.
At the same time, try exploring new channels through which you can reach out to more people. Try modifying your media mix to capture the consumers that flit through platforms. Clearly, social selling is at its peak, and investing in it will pay off. However, you must also consider advertising on video streaming platforms or mobile games to capture that segment of consumers. Alternatively, marketing your products on websites hosting news is also effective as several concerned individuals jostle on these platforms to stay up to date.
Experiment to find new ways to connect with your clients.
4. Plan Out Virtual Events
The Coronavirus pandemic resulted in the scrapping of major marketing events like global summits, conferences, and tradeshows. B2B companies rely heavily on these events to capture leads. To adapt to this change, marketers will have to start thinking outside the box and discover several digital channels to connect with prospects.
You can incorporate educational content, product demos, and other gated content forms on microsites, virtual trade shows, and landing pages to attract more leads. Record videos of guest experts, participants, and key speakers, allowing them to repurpose the speech that they had prepared for the scheduled events. Alternatively, hosting virtual AMA (Ask Me Anything) and conferences can help the attendees connect with subject matter experts, and learn new things. Considering that webinars are one of the most preferred B2B Marketing strategies, you can easily tap into this segment and use breakout session materials.
However, for your virtual event to be successful, your marketing team should be capable of creating sufficient buzz around it. For this purpose, you can rope in social media influencers and media contacts to share the news. Furthermore, these events have to be planned thoroughly. Planning would involve having a defined budget, a clear course of action, set out a target audience, and key performance indicators to measure the success of the event.
5. Focus on Content Creation and Content Marketing
The need for high-quality, engaging content has intensified more than ever in the past few days. Consumers are turning to content to gain information, acquire skill, seek reassurance, or merely for entertainment. Your content does not have to be Coronavirus-related. It just has to be interesting. Additionally, social media can be a great vehicle to carry your brand voice to the masses.
The fact that the global pandemic has severely disrupted businesses, B2B customers are looking for content that can help them take stock of the situation and act accordingly. Thus, one of the key elements of your B2B marketing strategies must include the creation and marketing of content.
B2B professionals seek actionable insights on how to proceed with the situation. Hence, they are actively looking for blogs about best practices, industry trends and predictions, how-to guides, and solution case studies. Naturally, if you are successful in engaging them, you display the expertise and the authority to help them in this crisis. As a result, these leads are more likely to transact business with your firm.
Content creation is also one of the best B2B marketing strategies to rank highly on search engine result page (SERP), attract organic traffic, and make your website search engine optimized. So get working on producing original, well-researched content to educate your readers.
6. Create Engaging Videos
In addition to textual content, visual media must be the ammunition in your arsenal of B2B sales and marketing strategies. Interestingly, about 87% of B2B clients expressed that they would like to see more video content from marketers.
Videos allow you to leave behind a lasting impression on your customer. Producing videos does not necessarily have to be an expensive affair. You can easily convert slideshows into engaging explainers and basic animation video. Just remember to keep the video concise, relevant, and in line with your brand voice, and you have the recipe for success.
B2B generally have plenty of content available on their website. Hence, the easiest way to get started is to reuse this existing content and present it in the form of videos! Plus, even if you do create fresh videos, there are a million other ways through which you can repurpose them.
For example, you can embed them on your landing pages and websites along with an appropriate title or snippet. Further, you can employ an AI to transcribe the video and include the transcript. The written content can be enriched with target long-tail keywords. The screenshots of the videos can be published over your social media handles and backlinked to your website. Finally, the key highlights of the videos can be designed as quotes and posted over Instagram or included in other blog posts.
7. Audit and Optimize Your Website
Given that the world of marketing is highly dynamic and fast-paced, there may be several low-priority tasks that may have piled up on your “To-Do” List and stayed there forever. Fortunately, you have now gotten the chance and the opportunity to address them.
Start by conducting a content audit on your website. Given that your website is the first point of digital contact between you and your client, you would definitely want to make a good impression.
- Does your website do justice to your brand story?
- Are your contact details readily available?
- Does it list out the services at-length?
These questions will help identify the vital elements of your website. It is essential to update this information as much as possible to create a holistic online persona for your business.
You may also consider redesigning your website, updating the images, and trawling the website for any missing or broken links. Post blogs and fresh content and optimize the entire website to load faster and rank higher.
You can also conduct a conversion rate optimization (CRO) audit to monitor the effectiveness of your call-to-action (CTA) buttons. Your website is your biggest asset, and you should invest your resources into keeping it at its peak performance.
At the same time, it would also be wise to update your Google My Business Profile for local customers. You should also update your contact details on every digital platform so that people can reach you without any hassles.
8. Manage Reviews and Testimonials
About 97% of B2B buyers believe that user-generated content (UGC) such as reviews and testimonials are more insightful than any other content. Hence, it is safe to say that UGC plays an important role in supporting B2B sales and marketing strategies.
Online reputation management tools like reviews and testimonials can tip the scales in your favor when a client is mulling over whether they should make the purchase from you or otherwise. Naturally, as the capital involved is rather significant in B2B transactions, businesses are wary of purchasing from shady vendors with no reviews.
While you may think that customers blasting you with 5-star reviews is the dream goal, the reality is quite different. As per trends, these reviews must be a mix of negative and positive reviews. Negative reviews not only help build credibility but also offer insight into the product. Thus, you can politely ask your customers to spend their valuable time writing a review or a testimonial. However, avoid getting too pushy.
Marketers can utilize this break to respond to the reviews dotting the internet and answer them in the most professional ways possible. You could set up a reviews policy wherein you can train an individual to track all the reviews and respond to them in a uniform, consistent manner.
9. Nurture Stalled Deals
A whopping 58% of deals in the B2B sales pipeline end up inconclusive and do not attract any sales decisions. Needless to say, that is a significant chunk of stalled deals, and no salesperson would like that! Of course, not all stalled deals can be worked around for a win, but given that as little as 5 to 7% of deals end up in sales, there is true potential in these stalled deals.
It’s an established fact that B2B decisions require a well-outlined process, and any misstep could have triggered the Domino effect where you end up getting a stalled deal on your hands. However, the primary culprit in most of these cases is pushing early-stage leads for sales before they are ready.
Given the current global situation, B2B marketers can dedicate their efforts to work on these stalled deals and retarget them. Utilize this time to touch-base and follow up on your lead. Stay persistent to nurture them until they are sales-ready so that the sales team can swoop in and bag the deal with a few solid B2B sales strategies.
10. Be Good, Do Good, Stay Good
Businesses and individuals will remember brands for their responses during times of crisis, especially if it is an act of goodwill and generosity. If possible, your company could take up humanitarian causes such as providing free products to the healthcare industry, donating to the food banks or relief camps, or even the simple act of paying your employees even though the business is shut. Such measures that reflect solidarity with the community will help your brand associate with good.
For example, Adobe made Creative Cloud available for free to K-12 institutions as an acknowledgment of the fact that profiteering during the Coronavirus pandemic is unethical.
Several businesses are struggling to make ends meet, and if you wish to establish long-standing relationships, now is the time to come to their rescue. Something as simple as 24-hours technical or customer support to something as defining as a free of charge services can go a long way to feature in your clients’ good books. Offer attractive deals and offers to target the customers who are having to make tough decisions regarding resourcing and expenditures.
Moreover, let your clients know about the initiative that your company has undertaken, right from simple safety and preventive measures to donation drives to promotional offers. You may partner with reliable organizations that are facing the same pains as your business. At present, the world is banking on feel-good content to contain their anxiety. As always, remember to stay genuine and empathetic.
11. Track Future Trends
It goes without saying that the Coronavirus pandemic shall redefine B2B buyer behavior not just for now but also in the long run. For instance, businesses will operate largely on digital platforms. So it would be wise to establish an online presence if you haven’t done that already.
Additionally, companies would be on the lookout for B2B solutions to facilitate remote working and digital safety while working from home. Thus, it may be anticipated that demand for IT solutions such as videoconferencing software, VPNs, firewalls, etc. will surge.
On the other hand, with the recession looming ahead, businesses will have to make aggressive budget cuts. As a result, products and services that are not essential to businesses would be the first to go.
Thus, marketing campaigns should work towards highlighting the usefulness of your offerings without putting off the clients. Present your product as a solution to short-term and long-term issues for businesses, and they would be keener to stick around.
Most importantly, be patient with your clients as they make hard decisions.
Keep Calm and Market On
“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.”
“If” by Rudyard Kipling.
Everything that we are experiencing right now may not be easy. However, you can take solace in knowing that it is temporary. No matter how hard it gets, we will emerge out from this in a stronger and more resilient manner. All one needs to do is accept the situation and pivot around it.
The Coronavirus pandemic is a cry for maintaining agility and has unlocked new avenues for B2B marketing. As a result, companies should utilize this time to restructure their B2B sales and marketing strategies. They should also run parallel operations to double down on their marketing efforts to enhance its brand position and value.
Everyone knows the adage, “Slow but steady wins the race.”
Consider the pandemic as the point where the hare takes a break during the proverbial hare and tortoise race. As businesses reel under the impact, businesses like yours can toil on towards the finish line!