You’ve probably heard that the only thing we can control in life is how we react to the things we can’t control. For B2B companies deeply embedded in a pandemic- and recession-shocked economy, this sentiment is true now more than ever.
In this article, we’ll look at how businesses are reacting to the current normal and explore some strategies to help B2B marketers navigate uncertain times.
The Current Normal For B2B Marketers
Although we don’t know when we’ll arrive at the “new normal” or what it will look like, we do know that normal marketing budgets are being scrutinized, and some businesses aren’t making long-term commitments or partnerships. Chances are you’re in one of these three positions:
- Organizations focused on surviving: These businesses aren’t spending, but they are cutting jobs and costs wherever they can while they still can.
- Organizations focused on adapting: These businesses are finding new ways to do what they’ve always done, such as by moving in-person events online.
- Organizations focused on innovating: These businesses have products or services that are vital right now, and they’re leveraging the need to grow their businesses and create innovative solutions.
No matter which of these three categories your company falls into, the reality is that the C-suite is asking more “what if” questions — primarily about the bottom line. B2B marketing and sales leaders should prove positive outcomes from all investments in order to survive a post-crisis world. Let’s explore how B2Bs can dig deep and put these qualities to work in order to stay afloat.
Six Ways B2B Companies Can Adapt
Without marketing, the sales pipeline dries up, which means dollars need to work harder right now — and B2B marketers may need to accomplish much more with less. Big businesses that aren’t used to being agile may struggle, and smaller businesses or those with more flexibility baked into their operations can survive with the following strategies:
1. Get Back To Basics
The name of the game has always been new and shiny strategies to accelerate growth, but crises are the time to get back to basics. Redefine your definitions of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs). Look at your strategic account management to ensure proper marketing and sales alignment. Evaluate how (or whether) you’re managing customer success, and create centers of excellence to bring together disparate teams and avoid creating silos as your company scales.
2. Give Account-Based Marketing A Try
Many companies are addicted to the demand-generation model, but you may need to say goodbye to goals focused solely on MQLs and SQLs. Now is a good time to test account-based marketing (ABM) strategies, which treat each individual prospect or customer as a market of one. Although ABM may seem intimidating, the strategy allows your marketing and sales teams to focus on securing the right leads as opposed to chasing MQLs or SQLs that may not be qualified at all.
3. Make Sure Your Messaging Is On The Money
You can’t dive directly into sales tactics and only follow up later with marketing support — you should start with a marketing strategy built on well-researched and documented buyer personas. But you should also consider the different generations that may be part of your target audience. Millennials speak, think and operate differently than Gen Xers and baby boomers. Stratifying a message by buyer persona, generational expectations and tone can be a powerful way to personalize your marketing message.
Also, be sure you’re messaging with empathy and creating community through value-based conversations. There’s a lot of pressure to grow top-line revenue, but if you don’t come across as helpful, you’ll likely be viewed as self-serving, and people will tune you out. You may not be closing deals or generating revenue from your marketing efforts right now, but adding value to the conversation and being helpful can pay dividends in the long run.
4. Nurture More Stable Verticals
If you’re working with or nurturing businesses that are currently in survival mode, consider pulling back on those relationships and efforts. Instead, focus on more stable verticals that are adapting and innovating — just make sure to adjust your messaging.
5. Audit Your Tech Stack To Maximize ROI
Today’s B2B marketers are in a pressure cooker of expectations to deliver qualified leads to the pipeline and prove marketing ROI. Why? There are more technologies than ever that let you track a lead from end to end, which is cool and exciting, but if you don’t have a firm strategy with goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) in place, you could drown in data. Now is a great time to audit your tech stack and make sure every technology you’re using can help you scale when the time is right. With a firm strategy and the right tech in place, you’ll be able to answer the C-suite’s questions about performance and rationalize marketing investments.
6. Make The Story About Your Customers
A hybrid ABM and demand-generation strategy that B2B marketers can put into practice now is to shift messaging in order to build a story around your prospects. At times when empathy and understanding are paramount for brand messaging, make your prospects and customers the heroes of your story by asking the following questions:
- Who is the person you’re solving a problem for?
- How can you speak their language?
- How do you align your company’s story and value proposition with your prospect’s needs?
Instead of forcing prospects and customers into your narrative, rebuild the narrative around them.
Take The Reins And Adapt To The New Normal
Don’t sit back and wait for the “new normal” to knock on your front door. We may not be able to return to the way things were, and we don’t know what the future holds. Now is the time to adopt the strategies that will allow you to do more with less, so whatever you do, keep marketing, and never go dark.
This article is written by Jen Spencer and originally published here