Three B2B Marketing Lessons Learned From COVID-19

What wasunited-nations-covid-19-response-fWYgXKMCqo0-unsplash once considered, “normal” has become a thing of the past — at least for the foreseeable future. COVID-19 has significantly altered the ways we dine out, socialize and live than when we rang in the New Year over seven months ago. It’s also altered our marketing.

Of the many critical lessons COVID-19 has taught us as B2B marketers, there are a few standouts. Treating your current and prospective customers like people, not faceless organizations; living up to your brand purpose; and building and maintaining trust are necessities B2B marketers need to incorporate into their marketing strategies to survive and thrive in a current-COVID-19 world.

Here’s a round-up of thoughts and examples from industry experts across B2B marketing in a COVID-19 world and beyond.

1. Humanize B2B Marketing

Liam Parker, Head of Design and Web at U.K. digital marketing agency, Boss Digital, summarizes the case for humanizing B2B marketing. 

“As the great marketer, Dave Dye stated in an interview last year, [In B2B, you’re still] talking to human beings. They’re a bundle of emotions held together by cello-tape and string. They’re driven by all the same underlying insecurities, pressures and dreams as any consumer audience.”

In other words, cut back on the industry lingo and tech jargon in your B2B messaging. Instead, tell the stories of the people purchasing your products and how your products have made a positive impact on their lives.

Parker gives the example of a small business owner purchasing accountancy software. The customer didn’t buy this software, “just because.” The customer bought it for control over their employees’ wages, peace of mind and the ability to pay their mortgage.

“This messaging is becoming particularly important within a lot of B2B technology sales where the target is no longer a senior executive with a $5 million budget, but a mid-level manager or specialist looking to purchase a flexible, low cost and subscription-based solution. If you don’t know why these end-users are making the purchase, your marketing has failed before it’s begun,” states Parker.

2. Focus On Strengthening Your Brands Through Your Actions 

It may seem like there are bigger items for your business to focus on instead of brand building. However, a study from the Advertising Research Foundation notes its critical importance, stating, “Brands that ‘go dark’ take 5 years on average to recover market share.”

While reducing marketing dollars may have been inevitable for your business, branding expert, Denise Lee Yohn shares that instead of using your financial resources to tell people about your brand, use your business’s actions to bring your brand purpose to life.

“Ensure every touchpoint, every activity reinforces and interprets your brand positioning and personality. Think of how you can turn your interactions with employees, business partners, communities as well as customers into powerful messages about your brand. Transform your company’s everyday actions into extraordinary ones and you’ll naturally attract attention and improve your brand perceptions.

With all the talk lately about brand storytelling, story-doing has a lot more impact. You don’t need to run ads telling people you care about them and their communities. Take action to actually help others and you will be strengthening your brand far more effectively and sustainably.

3. Credibility Is More Important Than Ever Before

While positive customer reviews have always been important, research from PowerReviews, reported by Forbes, shows reviews have become even more critical in the COVID-19 era. Consumers are engaging with review content twice as much as they were before the outbreak. With tighter budgets and fewer resources, consumers need to be confident in the purchases they are making.

If your business has positive reviews, use them to your advantage by marketing them across your website and digital platforms. And if you don’t have them, simply ask buyers you have a strong relationship with to leave your business an honest online review.

If your messaging at the beginning of the pandemic included sentiments like, “We’re here for you” and “Supporting our customers is of the utmost importance to us,” then you need to live up to those statements.

Your clients may be under different kinds of stresses and you may not know exactly what they’re going through. Your reassurance of being there for them and putting an extra effort towards acting on such reassurances will go a long way in strengthening their trust in you,” says Paras Chopra, Founder and Chairman of digital marketing firm, VWO.

On top of that, Chopra also adds that if possible, try to be flexible with payment terms with clients who may be struggling at the moment. If you can afford it, do not lose a client just because they’re not able to pay you during this period. If you show flexibility now, they’ll remember it and will likely reciprocate in the future.

COVID-19 has forced us to adapt. From wearing a face mask to the grocery store to avoiding large social gatherings, things are undoubtedly different.

As B2B marketers, we’ve been forced to adapt as well. Whether your business’s language has shifted from addressing a corporation’s needs to addressing a human’s needs, you’re living out your company’s brand purpose through your interactions with customers or you’re focusing on building credibility, these changes are necessary and are guaranteed to make your business stronger in the long run.

Do you have questions about your COVID-19 B2B marketing efforts? We can help.