The Post-Pandemic Marketing Landscape
Where do B2B Brands go from here?
This spring the ground shifted underneath our agency, our clients, and the world we live in. Collectively, we’re all Zooming more, going out less, and, if you have school-age children, taking on a new role as math/science/English teacher (at least for now). At birdsong gregory, we’re lucky enough to have a workflow that lends itself to remote collaboration and video conferencing, and while we’re eager to get back into our newly-renovated office and resume the camaraderie of expanding our creative team, we’re keenly aware of how things will never quite be the same as they were before. As we all anxiously gaze towards the horizon, it is not yet clear what kind of long-term damage Covid-19 will inflict on the economy, but we will have continued disruption, lasting changes in consumer behavior, and the threat of returning to lockdown at a moment’s notice – at least until Big Pharma sorts out a vaccine.
Part of our job as branders and marketers is to figure out what the path to growth looks like in the post-pandemic era. So, having wiped down our crystal ball with Lysol, here are three fundamental long-term changes B2B companies will need to make in how the communicate with their customers.
1. Present with empathy but also clarity
People feel vulnerable right now, and letting them know your brand understands their current emotional state is important. Which is why a priority should be to audit existing 2020 marketing plans. Is there any irrelevant or insensitive content, given the new reality of COVID-19? If so, rework it to better reflect the times we’re living in. There’s a lot of maudlin piano music and “we have your back” platitudes coursing through marketing channels right now, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But think forward. How can your brand messages and marketing add value – not noise? Is there a way to pivot in an authentic way to show how your company will be able to more efficiently and reliably serve customers affected by the pandemic?
B2B marketing has always been good at saying “here are our products and services.” but now, more than ever, you should be asking “how can we tailor our offering to help you solve your specific challenge?” With a recession looming, your customers may be considering ways to cut spending and mitigate losses, so taking a more consultative tone of voice and providing in-depth examples of how you’re helped other customers adapt to the current business condition may not deliver an immediate boost to your sales – but it will help you build valuable long-term customer relationships.
2. Connect with customers in new ways
To quickly adapt your marketing campaigns as circumstances change, B2B brands will want to build more rapid-response operating models internally and with their agencies. Access to trusted remote creative teams and production resources will become particularly important as the crisis evolves. Beyond a more agile creative workflow, however, the mix of actual media platforms used by post-pandemic B2B consumers has changed, and you should consider modifying your media mix accordingly.
Face-to-face meetings are, for the most part, on hold these days, which puts sales teams at a big disadvantage…or does it? I think we’re all spending more time than we would like in group video conferences, but what about using professionally produced videos to expand your sales team’s reach and showcase your company’s capabilities? Until in-person contact opens back up, video and virtual media offer a sophisticated, compelling way to promote facility tours, product demonstrations, service capabilities, the future of IoT, and comparisons of your product versus a competitor’s, etc. In addition, the investment in a deeper library of digital content will pay dividends into the future, as customers and prospects find and watch them well after the crisis has passed.
3. Demonstrate social responsibility
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become the new standard of how ethically a brand interacts with employees, customers, and communities. While the importance of CSR varies from company to company and vertical to vertical, supporting the common social good has become just as important as delivering shareholder value and profitability, which is timely, because those values are in demand more than ever during this period of uncertainty. One of the basic elements of a successful CSR strategy is showing the world how well you take care of your own people, and in complex industries that rely on trusted partners for technical and field support, your vendors, customers, prospects and employees all need to know the steps your taking to keep your workforce – and theirs – safe, healthy, and productive.
We hope you find these insights to be helpful as you begin to plan for the post-pandemic marketing landscape. Please remember that we’re all in this together, and while we’re here to support your brand and your team during this crisis, you have a singular opportunity to retool your marketing platform for what lies ahead. After all, once the economy bounces back from impacts of the pandemic, there will be pent-up demand and tremendous opportunities to regain lost sales. Our world has changed forever, which means the way that B2B brands communicate has changed forever, and birdsong gregory wants you to be ready.