New Normal: Adapting B2B PR And Marketing During Covid-19
Industry experts are sure that the globe will never return to its pre-pandemic state. The "new normal," as the media refers to it, emphasizes more socially distant relationships and dependence on technology.
For business-to-business firms, this implies shifting their focus from promotion and marketing to sustaining consumer engagement, selling, and other activities.
But, in a post-COVID world, how can B2B firms alter their marketing tactics to maximize engagement? What obstacles will they confront in attracting consumers and connecting with customers? Fifteen Forbes Agency Council specialists investigate some of the changes that B2B business marketing must undergo in order to flourish in a post-pandemic world.
COVID-19 had an impact on all aspects of our lives in some way. Some modifications may be transitory, while others may be permanent.
Although our imaginations automatically portray a bleak image of the changes this epidemic has brought about in our lives, some good aspects may be here to stay once we've tamed the Coronavirus beast.
Changes in society have always had a significant impact on the B2B sales sector, as have changes in customer behavior. And, if nothing else, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on how customers connect with companies.
The data reveal a distinct difference between the pre-and post-COVID B2B sales environments.
Tactics and behaviors that began as crisis responses have evolved into the new—or should we say, the next—normal. The consequences of the pandemic's massive move toward digital imposed on B2B customers and sellers are far-reaching than the shift itself, which is almost certainly here to stay.
This "new" or "next" normal will place an emphasis on qualities that will make firms more robust, flexible, and "user-friendly," such as:
- More assistance for individuals, consumers, and suppliers.
- A company refocuses in order to resist new challenges and capitalize on new possibilities.
- The ability to negotiate fast alterations in cultural norms, beliefs, and behaviors.
Let's look at some of the trends and insights highlighted by the McKinsey & Company study. We'll next go through the five strategic actions to take right now in order to gain market share while keeping up with continuously changing client demand.
The new digital reality will be with us for a long time. More than 75% of consumers and sellers said they "now prefer" digital, self-guided service, and remote human contacts over in-person encounters. Even after the lockdowns were lifted, this tendency remained.
B2B sales executives around the world have progressed from being "forced" to use digital as a response to the worldwide COVID-19 epidemic to growing confidence that digital is genuinely the way to go. In fact, more than 80% of B2B buyers do not want to engage in face-to-face conversations again.
B2B buyers are showing a degree of comfort when making significant new purchases and reorder online, demonstrating the maturity of digital sales today.
E-commerce is no more just for small-ticket products and fast-moving parts; now, 70% of B2B decision-makers indicate they are open to new, completely self-serve, or remote purchases over $50,000, and 27% would spend more than $500,000.
This indicates that online remote selling is just as effective as in-person sales. Sellers share this sentiment, with the majority believing that digital prospecting and social selling are just as productive as their traditional equivalents.
COVID-19 provided the whole globe a tremendous push toward digital transformation, establishing video and live chat as the most prevalent means for communicating with and completing transactions with B2B clients. Customers have also said that they prefer video communication over a phone conversation.
E-commerce and video conferencing account for an eye-opening 43 percent of all B2B income. Since April 2020, the amount of money generated by video-related interactions has increased by 69 percent.
Nine out of ten decision-makers polled around the world believe that the new digital go-to-market sales and commerce techniques created during COVID-19 will be a permanent fixture in 2021 and beyond.
This mindset is reflected in multi-year plans for increasing OpEx and CapEx investment.
COVID-19 has caused chaos all across the world, with individuals exercising "social distance" and remaining at home as much as possible. Let's look at how this will impact your B2B marketing tactics.
As organizations, we must understand how to communicate effectively with our consumers based on our particular strategy. During this period, we must realize that our public relations and marketing activities must adapt and collaborate.
Stay Relevant to your Audience: Look for ways to address the needs and concerns of your audience, including how you can support the workforce which is now suddenly almost exclusively remote. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack, for example, have quadrupled their ad expenditure advertising their remote communication tools.
Stop Irrelevant Press Releases and Launches: Press releases and launches are critical components of any B2B strategy. But now is not the moment for your most recent news. People are more concerned with the present situation than with the latest news from your firm. So, for the time being, postpone the launch.
With in-person events off-limits, seek for alternatives to assist your B2B marketing initiatives online. Create virtual events and webinars that individuals may participate in from the comfort of their own homes.
Engage your audience by doing a live video on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Take the time to create films that will assist your approach long after COVID-19 has passed.
Build your social media presence: Social media is a must-have for everyone who is remaining at home during this period. And it's something you can work on and enhance behind the scenes. Check that all of your information is current. Look for methods to make your social accounts and feeds more interesting. Upload relevant material that not only keeps you and your business in mind but also speaks to the requirements of your target audience.
Optimize your Digital Spaces: Clean up and improve your blogs and webpages, as well as your SEO, to ensure that your present material is as visible as possible. Refresh outdated information. Analyze your plan and make necessary adjustments to your tactics and budget.
With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the odds against telemarketing have risen. When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proclaimed a state of emergency, he also barred unwanted telemarketing calls during the period, claiming that telemarketing during emergencies might impede residents' ability to obtain safety information.
Even in places where telemarketing is not prohibited, reaching your target audience might be challenging because many people work from home.
As B2B marketers reassess their ad expenditure, roadblocks for telemarketing open the path for email marketing. Email already provides a plethora of advantages, including:
- Targeted and customized emails offer a 74% higher probability of generating consumer interaction.
- Customers respond more favorably to personalized emails than to telemarketing.
- When using email, there is the possibility of following up if the initial response is ineffective.
Enhance customer loyalty, experience, and engagement by personalizing your communications, content, and website.
With COVID-19, marketing organizations have greater hurdles than ever before in maintaining sales pipelines, minimizing business impact, and sustaining growth during this health and logistical catastrophe. The good news is that ad expenditure is really increasing in certain areas, notably technology.
Here are some pointers to assist the B2B tech industry continue to expand and other industries recover as fast as feasible.
Begin with LinkedIn: 95% of B2B marketers currently use LinkedIn to develop their company. Find your ideal customers on LinkedIn and connect with them.
Convert your existing communications into the video: Video will increase social media engagement while also providing an option for in-person conversations.
Begin a podcast: Podcasts are the fastest-growing type of B2B content. Podcasts are used by 74% of individuals to learn new topics, according to a survey. Create podcasts to teach your prospects more about your products and services while allowing them to interact remotely.
Bring back the webinar: 73 percent of B2B marketers now believe webinars are the most effective approach to create high-quality leads.
Implement ChatBots: We're approaching the point where 85 percent of consumer conversations will take place without human interaction. Chatbots utilize artificial intelligence to ensure that your sales and marketing operations are manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
By using customized account-based marketing strategies, B2B marketers have become considerably more efficient. These campaigns rely on being able to reach out to potential consumers at specific firms via data partners in order to generate promotions.
In many situations, data partners may also assess intent and discover growing accounts and potential consumers.
So, if the persons targeted are now working remotely, can they still be reached? The simple response is "yes." When establishing a target's domain, most data partners employ a number of data points, including:
- IP Address (the same as a remote worker calling into their company's VPN)
- Databases for Publisher Registration
- Offline Partners
Some suppliers are reporting a small decrease in their ability to hyper-target certain target clients, mostly SMBs. However, as the number of internet users grows, suppliers are witnessing a 50 percent rise in digital activity.
You may also be more efficient with your money by focusing on areas that are growing right now (healthcare, biotech, etc.) and avoiding slower industries (travel, hospitality, food/restaurants, etc.).
We all have projects that we put on the back burner until things calm down. Now is the moment to dig out those projects and devote your whole attention to them.
Writing a book, changing your brand message, building and releasing a new website, making a video or podcast, designing a new product, or even forming a thought leadership strategy may all fall under this category. Whatever it is, now is the moment to act.
There are comparable identities that B2B firms, particularly in tech, may assume to demonstrate their support for clients and their sectors during this time:
Supporting businesses via fast innovation: We all need to adapt, and firms that can update goods or services to fit how we find ourselves working and functioning should. Microsoft Teams and other video conferencing and collaboration solutions are excellent examples of firms that swiftly updated and improved their services to match today's corporate demands. Fast innovation should be a focus for those who can demonstrate it at this period, and these firms should promote how they help consumers and end-users.
Offering reduced or free items and services to help people who have been affected: B2B firms, like B2C companies, may express their support and advertise free products or services to industries that have been severely hit by the virus. For example, our client EXFO is providing its TestFlow test and measurement solution to telecommunications service providers for free for three months, while SolarWinds is providing it is Take Control Plus remote support solution for free for 90 days. Publications such as Tech Radar Pro are compiling lists of firms that are providing free products or services during the epidemic, mostly to the healthcare, public, and education sectors.
Using martial resources to help those in need: Offering free goods or services isn't the only method to show your support. Businesses make donations as a result of a surplus or as a by-product of their primary business offering. Our customer HYLA is providing phone chargers to hospitals, which it collects as part of its gadget recycling business, allowing individuals in the hospital to keep connected to their loved ones.
Sharing insights to maintain business: Having insights into markets and industries is more important than ever. Sharing your opinions on the impact on your industry and consumers would be appreciated, but do it with caution. What data do you have regarding the virus's impact that would be useful to your customers? What distinguishing data do you have that your competitors do not? This new perspective will assist organizations in better understanding the terrain, their possibilities, and how to handle difficulties. BearingPoint/Beyond recently re-engineered a content marketing strategy to help telcos think about COVID-19.
Here are some helpful hints to assist you to expand your consumer base.
- Learn about your consumers
- Provide excellent client service
- Maintain existing clients while looking for new ones
- Make use of social media
- Participate in networking events
- Organize events
- Give something back to your town
- Measure what works and iteratively improve your strategy
The worldwide Covid-19 epidemic has certainly accelerated digital migration more than any other catastrophe in human history. Consumers of all ages have been compelled to accept the digital world, including e-commerce and working from home, and as a result, they have welcomed new channels and methods of living and working.
The baby boomer group, individuals aged 50 to 64, have experienced the most behavioral shift. This generation is not only embracing social media, e-commerce, and the digital world in general, but it is also becoming quite influential in this field.