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A new lens on B2B marketing

The coronavirus pandemic is proving a powerful lens through which to view your comms – highlighting strengths and weaknesses as never before.

Businesses that have invested in quality online content and built thriving social communities are finding that they are in good shape to continue to connect with their audiences in lockdown – and thrive post-pandemic.

Those that have taken a scattergun approach to their online content and social media are finding life harder.

So, what are the biggest lockdown learnings you need to take away – and how can you act on them?


1. Adapting to ‘presence-free’ living

Physical distancing means your customers are getting used both to working and living remotely. As lockdown eases, it’s likely that new tribes of businesses and consumers will emerge who actively prefer this way of interacting to face-to-face contact. This means e-commerce and self-serve will become more important than ever in this new era of ‘presence-free living’, as the most recent Foresight Factory insight terms it.

What this means for the B2B marketer

Look at your customer journey – from awareness to sale to after sales support. What processes and interactions could you turn into outstanding virtual experiences instead of or as well as physical ones? For example, could you replace sales visits with online product and service demos? Instead of attending conferences and trade exhibitions, could you hold interactive webinars, or is there even a better way of achieving your objective? Some Clients are really ramping up their account-based marketing, with helpful content at its heart and taking control of the sales narrative. Would this be an even better use of your budget?

When it comes to delivery solutions, now could be the time to look at more advanced supply chain optimisation e.g. multiple shops bundling deliveries to the same household or street.

And does Covid-19 offer new opportunities to distinguish yourself from your competitors? For instance, car manufacturers virus-proofing their vehicles like Jaguar Land Rover who has already spotted the potential of UVC light to sterilise environments. Back in 2019, it announced plans to integrate UVC emitters in hidden ducts and vents on car dashboards. Could you now continuously think more broadly across product, marketing and sales?


2. Push B2B digital boundaries

In the new physically distanced world, your audiences are spending much more time on digital platforms. In fact, it’s estimated that we’re all spending 20% more time in apps. Your customers may also be discovering new platforms that they haven’t been on before like TikTok.

At the same time, there’s been a significant rise in online gaming, to the point where it’s now argued that ‘gaming is no longer the preserve of the anti-social, geeky stereotype (but ) …a mainstream cultural passion point, overtaking sport in the hearts of 18-34 year-olds’.

So how you can best tap into these developments?

What this means for the B2B marketer

Take a fresh look at your social media approach and content. Be honest with yourself. Is your content of the right quality? Do you have good influencer partnerships in place, for example? Or are you still struggling to leverage the potential of social media? If so, then invest in proper creative ideas and be realistic about the professional management that these ideas require.

Also, consider new platforms that you might not previously have engaged with like Instagram and TikTok.  Find out what your competitors are doing and the conversations that they are having on these platforms. If your business were to embrace new channels, what would your strategy and content look like?

Finally, take a serious look at how your brand could get involved in gaming. A good consumer example is the creative approach taken by burger chain Wendy’s with its freezer-bashing character. Other possibilities include the partnership approach such as that taken by DHL with ESL One.


3. Stimulate fresh thinking in your team

The coronavirus has unveiled a huge wealth of free and on demand webinars and courses out there covering everything from leadership skills to the role that creative industries can play in addressing climate change.

What this means for the B2B marketer

Encourage your team to tap into these resources and share those that they find most useful – perhaps on a regular lunch & learn Zoom call. Also, consider how they can make better ongoing use of online resources post-pandemic to strengthen their continuous learning.

Check out:

  • The webinars on offer from our friends at B2B Marketing. Current opportunities include  ‘ABM in a box’ and ‘How to transform your channel marketing’.
  • The many free google courses including ‘the basics of machine learning’ and ‘leadership skills’
  • The Drum’s digital transformation festival including what the marketer of the future will look like.


4. Sharpen your product marketing focus

There’s been a lot of talk in lockdown land about spring-cleaning. Your brand and products portfolio can suffer the same fate as the nation’s drawers and cupboards, becoming cluttered and over-full. And yet the old 80/20 rule that 80% of a company’s profit is made by 20% of its product is as true now as it’s ever been.

What this means for the B2B marketer

Take a good hard look at the way you’re presenting your portfolio. How can you improve focus? Are you trying to be all things to all businesses or should you be concentrating your marketing power in fewer areas? And does your brand’s single-minded message still do the job or could it be more powerful? This is about taking more control so you emphasise the products that offer the best margins.


5. Identify the right creative partners

Covid-19 is shining a light on business relationships, exposing weaknesses and deficiencies you may have been aware of before but prepared to overlook. It’s also underlining the critical importance of digital ready comms and effective online tools in helping you continue to do business and face the future with confidence.

What this means for the B2B marketer

Ask yourself how flexible and agile your creative partners have proved in this period. Have they established processes to help you cope with the challenges you’re facing? And how resilient have they themselves been as a business – have they still had a full team working? Generally, how well do you feel aligned and understood?

If you’re feeling underwhelmed by the way your creative partners have responded to your needs, identify agencies that might serve you better. Set up intro calls and explore what they could offer.


Moving forward after lockdown

Acting on these five lockdown learnings will help you get into better shape to face the future post-pandemic. The ‘new normal’ awaits – make sure your business will thrive in it!

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