B2B marketing in uncertain times

Author - Alex Price

Posted By Alex Price

Date posted 17th Mar 2020

Category Marketing, Blog

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We’re in unprecedented times. What should B2B marketers do?

Hit pause? Spend less? Double down? Get louder? Shift budgets?

These are my B2B marketing predictions for the next few months:

  • Marketers will be in analysis mode the next couple of weeks. CMOs, CFOs and CEOs alike will be wanting to know the plan. Louder or quieter? More ad spend or less?
  • Overall, the plan will be massively dependent on how leveraged a company is to certain sectors/industries/verticals. If they are selling a solution into mainly travel, hospitality etc, ad spend has likely already been paused entirely, let alone just cut back.
  • If the immediate impact from the point above will be limited and companies are looking to keep pushing on, then marketing budget otherwise put to one side for trade shows/events/conferences will shift into other (mainly digital) channels.
  • Brand and messaging is going to be more important than ever in B2B over the coming months. We’re all going to be looking for deeper connection from everything during this storm.
  • Those brave enough to invest in building the top of the funnel over a difficult next few months will be at the front of the grid when the lights turn green again. The key word here is: invest.
  • Obvious maybe, but those with strong data and able to draw actionable insights from the last few months will be well prepared for the next few months.
  • The more advanced marketing teams who have been experimenting with things like B2B intent data are the ones who will already be using data to truly understand customer intent, where demand originates and the detail of their buyer journey. These are the fine insights that could guide businesses through the make or break.
  • Paid social channels will be on the rise, with more B2B businesses willing to test out ‘traditionally’ B2C channels (Facebook, Instagram etc) to reach a captive audience whose screen time will fly up over the coming months. Costs for advertising on these platforms could potentially drop initially as there is a surge in people’s social activity, but then CPC/CPM would likely increase again as demand increases.
  • For companies doing paid social, it’s time to optimise your targeting settings and make sure you’re ready for the above whilst keeping an extra eye on the numbers that matter.
  • Again with an increase in screen time likely over the next few months, it could be worth exploring doubling down on retargeting/remarketing spend and strategies.
  • Could we even see closer sales and marketing alignment? Sales are going to have to do more nurturing from a distance, and marketing are going to have to help them do this. After all, content is king.
  • The above could in turn see more businesses taking an ABM approach to marketing in general (and not just for existing accounts, but new customers too).
  • Direct mail campaigns have been re-emerging again recently, but the right people are going to be hard to reach if we all move to working from home for a couple of months, therefore also potentially putting this on pause along with events/in person activity.
  • Thinking about using COVID-19 related messaging in your marketing? The general consensus so far seems to be mainly rolling of eyes and sneering at most who have given it a go. You’re going to have to get your messaging absolutely spot on to make it land. Projecting stability and calmness is going to be much more effective than appearing to take advantage of the situation.
  • All B2B marketers already have a never ending to do list, so any respite will be a good opportunity for consolidation and experimentation. Content planning, MarTech, automation, personalisation and all the other things that have been on the ‘rainy day’ list for months.
  • And lastly, if you’re planning a ’10 tips for home working’ blog post: PLEASE STOP.

We know for a fact that uncertainty is here to stay – short to medium term thanks to COVID-19, and looking ahead the longer lasting impact to the general health of the economy.

As an agency, we know it’s our job to be even more consultative and to work even more closely alongside our clients to help them navigate rough seas.

You can read more about our own business continuity planning here.

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