B2B Marketing Through a Pandemic: The Answers Have Changed, but the Questions Shouldn’t
The smartest marketing initiatives always start with a series of questions: Who is the target audience—and what do we know about them? What are their pain points? How can our product or service help address those pain points? And how can we best reach our audience given the available resources?
With the drastic changes in the global business and consumer environment over the past several weeks, marketers are having to reassess their communications plans. In doing so, it will be important for teams and their agency partners to look beyond the logistical changes (moving an offline event online, or delaying the mailing of a campaign) and instead to re-evaluate each of these critical questions so that marketing efforts can continue without coming across as tone deaf.
1.) Who is your target audience—and what do you know about them?
Your prospects’ names and titles probably haven’t changed since you wrote that Marketing Brief, but their profiles certainly have. Their day may look quite a bit different than it did just a few weeks ago. It will be important for you to know what has changed and how that could impact the way you reach them, and the way you speak to them. Is your prospect now working remotely—or not working at all? Has her role changed? Is he on the frontlines of the global pandemic?
Now would be a great time to talk to your sales team about what they are seeing in the field. A smartly executed survey or series of customer interviews could help round out your findings.
2) What are their pain points?
All of us are facing new challenges on a daily basis. A hospital CFO is facing a very different pain than he was 2 months ago. So too, is the brick and mortar small business owner. A sure-fire way to sound tone deaf in a pandemic is to keep focusing on the pain points that mattered yesterday, if what matters today is something completely different.
Again, if this information is not easily accessible to you, a quick qualitative survey or interviews could get you some needed answers, while also showing customers and prospects that you are ready to listen.
3.) How can our product or service help address those pain points?
Is there a facet of your product or service that may be more relevant today than it was a few weeks ago? What is your competition doing to stay top of mind? Information gleaned from an updated marketing analysis could be useful not only to the sales and marketing team, but also to the product development team in helping prioritize product changes or enhancements.
4) How can we best reach our audience given the available resources?
There is no sense in sending a direct mailer to a business address if the business is closed. Digital avenues such as email may be the right approach for some—but not every tactic is right for every audience. A marketing email to an IT Manager whose inbox is flooded with requests from his remote workforce is likely to go unseen.
A smart agency or media partner should be helping you think creatively and strategically when it comes to reaching your audience where they are today.
Whether you are looking to re-purpose an existing program or start over from scratch, revisiting your Project Brief should be the first step. Ask yourself—or better yet, ask your target audience—if the assumptions you made last week or last year have changed. Chances are good that they have, and your marketing programs need to follow suit.