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    B2B Marketing During a Global Crisis

    Written by Anne Marsden on April 2, 2020

    B2B Marketing During a Global CrisisEVERYTHING has changed in the last month. There’s not a single person, organization, or business that hasn’t been suddenly and drastically shaken by the urgent need to fight the pandemic. For many of us in the U.S., “sheltering in place” is now a mandate where gatherings of more than 10 people are banned, and city-wide curfews are on the rise.  


    At Marsden Marketing, we’re well into our third week of working from home, and it’s now clear we will be doing so indefinitely. Thank goodness we’ve been working virtually with most of our clients for several years and had a number of the tools and processes in place. But it’s far from normal. 

    What has been consistent across our client base are the conversations focused on how to adjust their marketing to customers and prospects during this unprecedented global crisis. There is no one right answer or approach. Each business has a unique intersection of the markets they serve and the value they provide. Yet there are common threads that apply across the board.

     

    Now Is the Time to Plan Your Marketing

    If you have automated programs running (emails, ads, social postings, etc.), be sure they aren’t now out of date (e.g. a conference that was canceled) or worse, tone deaf. If something feels like it might be taken as insensitive, hit pause.  

    It’s pretty likely that you’ve had trade shows or other face-to-face events canceled or postponed. Have you had any product launches put on hold? Many marketing activities have been disrupted, and after the scrambling to adjust, this is a perfect time to reevaluate your marketing mix, messages, and channels.  

     

    Seek to Serve, Not Sell 

    As every business evaluates their operations and makes plans to ride out this crisis-- for however long it lasts — it’s tempting to go into hard sales mode. Do you cut prices? Offer deals? Blast emails?   

    Before you do anything, look at how you can best help your customers and prospects. What knowledge, skills, capabilities, or products do you have that can better support their most pressing needs? Approach all your marketing – and sales -- activities from the perspective of helping those you serve (customers, prospects, and employees). 

    We’ve all seen restaurants selling gift cards with 100% of the proceeds going to support their staff. We’ve seen small manufacturers retooling to produce critically needed Personal Protective Equipment. We are working with clients to adjust their offerings and their messaging to better communicate how they can be of service. And the payoff goes beyond short to mid-term revenue. 

    Your target audiences will remember when your company stood up and offered meaningful ways to help. The flip side is also true – if your communications are salesy or ring of taking advantage of the crisis, you should expect an equally negative brand impression to be attached to your brand for a long time. 


    Your Digital Presence IS Your Brand Now

    Take a fresh look at the following key elements of your digital footprint and prioritize them to be current and on point. 

    Website

    This is your most valuable marketing asset – how well is it working for you? 

    • Is your SEO bringing in the right visitors? 

    • Is your messaging up to date? 

    • Is the user experience on your website guiding visitors to learn more or driving them away

    Use data to understand, prioritize, and optimize your web performance. If you have a solid tech stack to evaluate performance, great. If not, Google Analytics, SEMrush, HotJar, and HubSpot offer free and/or nearly free tools to get started with your most important performance issues.

     

    Social Media

    Social media offers a powerful means of getting your message out to your target audiences (both free and paid). Not every social media channel is right for each business but doing a little research can yield some useful surprises. Did you know that civil and electrical engineers are surprisingly engaged on Instagram? 

    • Take a fresh look at your strategy and plan on how to use each channel and define how you measure success for each one. 

    • Do you know which social media channels your clients and prospects are on regularly?

    • Do you have a brand voice/personality/cadence for each of the channels you’re using?  

    Review Sites

    The use and importance of review sites for B2B companies has grown significantly over the past several years, and in many cases these sites are now beating established firms’ own SEO.  If you haven’t prioritized managing your reputation on key review sites for your industry, you need to now.

    • Do your research on which sites are the most used and credible for your industry and prospects.
    • Understand the process for submitting reviews for each site and prioritize submissions by level of importance.

    Content

    This is the fuel that drives all of your digital marketing.   

    • Fresh content is the biggest influencer for improving SEO. 

    • Informative content is the most effective means of connecting with customers and prospects. 

    • Personalized content increases both engagement and conversions. And personalizing content isn’t just inserting an email recipient’s name in the salutation. Content that speaks to particular industries, pain points, and buyer personas consistently outperform general marketing messages.

    Content Updating, Repackaging, and Repurposing

    Now’s the perfect time to audit your existing content and prioritize a content refresh plan.   

    • Been blogging for a while? Which of your blogs are still relevant to your audience?

    • Which blogs can you update, refresh, and repurpose to speak to specific buyer types or industries?  

    • Do you have blogs that can be woven together into a larger, more impactful guide?

    • Look at all your content types and ask – how can I increase the utility of this information and its reach? 

    Take a Fresh Look at Your Content Options

    Video conferencing, video email, and short webinars are on the rise. Getting timely information and feeling physically connected have become more important than perfect lighting and crisp sound since we’ve all started working from home. Consider how these lower-cost platforms can add depth to your communications and across your owned and earned channels.   

     

    For Now and for the Future

    To say we’re in uncharted and unsettling times is an immense understatement. There is a natural inclination to pull back on marketing spend during times of uncertainty, and each company has to make tough decisions on where to cut and where to invest.  

    Smart decisions on where to prioritize investments of time and budget will help you weather the storm and they can make the difference in how your brand is perceived and can improve your positioning for when we get through this time. 

     

     

    Topics: Marketing Strategy

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