How to Adapt Your B-to-B Marketing Strategy to Unparalleled Societal Change
Marketing in the midst of a global pandemic is far from business as usual. As social distancing and remote working have become the new normal, the world is experiencing a widespread societal shift that's impacting almost every aspect of our daily and business lives. In fact, Gartner predicts that more than 70 percent of companies plan to permanently shift to more remote work post-pandemic. When it comes to marketing, many businesses are struggling with how to best connect with their customers. During this critical time, it's more important than ever for organizations to be agile and continually re-evaluate their strategies to best navigate this new reality, sometimes daily if needed.
Without a doubt, taking the appropriate steps and communicating the right message is easier said than done in times of rapidly shifting market conditions. Marketers must not wait for issues to arise, or the pandemic to play out, before adjusting their plans. Here are four areas in which marketers can take a proactive approach to shift their B-to-B strategy:
1. Empathize with your audience.
In our current environment, a “we’re in this together” mentality will go a long way. Being tone deaf will cripple a brand, so marketers should infuse empathy into their marketing communications to form a partnership with their customers and prospects. Take the time to closely examine your audience. Ask how you can help them and connect with them to grow your community authentically. If you have a specific community forum or platform, you should make sure to leverage this fully to provide helpful content and guidance for customers and prospects. Maintain regular contact with your customers, and keep in mind that timing and sensitivity are critical when reaching out to them.
Remember that now is not your time to shine — it's the time to put your customers’ needs first. Be transparent, helpful and kind to help your brand emerge with a dedicated customer base and engaged prospects.
2. Focus on a high ROI messaging track.
It's important to balance your long-term marketing strategies that have proven to be successful, while adapting short-term efforts to address current concerns of your customers. No matter what industry your customers and prospects are in, budgets and resources will continue to be constrained in a post-pandemic world. This makes the focus on cost optimization and efficiency a top priority. It’s not just about cost savings; it’s also about putting that money to more effective use, especially as it relates to accelerating digital and cloud initiatives, which are more critical than ever in adjusting to the new tomorrow.
3. Leverage digital marketing tools.
Your audience is spending more time than ever in front of a screen, so aggressively adjust the ways you're engaging with them. Begin by expanding your use of digital tools such as asynchronous messaging, self-service tools and chatbots. As prospects opt in, look to virtual events, roundtables and even dust off your direct mail, redirected to home offices when possible, to drive lead generation and brand recognition. However, it’s not just about doing more of what you’ve done in the past, it’s about innovating. The in-person interactions that were an important part of the traditional buyer journey now have to be largely replaced. Therefore, think how you can “engage” prospects digitally — e.g., through interactive content or video. And look to new technology platforms that can hyperpersonalize content to a specific audience.
Customer data remains critical, so continue to gather valuable behavioral insights through customer data platforms, and analyze it closely to help course correct your strategy. A digital focus allows you to adjust your strategies based on real-time data, enabling you to deliver the right message, paired with the right call to action, at the right time.
4. Prioritize measurement.
Driving results and meeting key performance indicators have never been more critical. Ensure your team is aligned on goals and how progress is measured, and hold each other accountable through consistent team check-ins. Enforcing strong measurement techniques, such as real-time data analytics, will instill a level of focus and trust across your team, especially with many of them contributing from remote locations for the foreseeable future.
During this time, it’s really important to keep in close communication with field, channel and business development representatives (BDRs). Gathering real-time insights and data from these internal stakeholders on what's resonating with customers will help drive strategy going forward. Quantitative data is good to have, but also ensure you have qualitative data so that you can measure success and make any necessary changes to your approach.
As the new normal for organizations continues to unfold, marketing teams will need to remain agile and keep a close watch on the pulse of both their customers and their teams. Taking a proactive approach in shifting business strategy to address these four areas can be the difference between success and shuttered doors in the current volatile business landscape.
Karl Van den Bergh is the chief marketing officer of Gigamon, a company that aggregates, transforms and analyzes network data to solve for critical performance and security needs.
Related story: Why B-to-B E-Commerce Will Explode in Growth