Post pandemic b2b marketing plan - Top 10 takeouts
- Prioritise listening
- Bring the proof
- No hard sells
- Few are buying, but everyone is listening
- Quick wins in content
- Customer marketing
- Sales enablement
- Tech stack review
- Monthly or quarterly planning
- Keep your brand in market
As we start to emerge (but not really) from the strangest period many of us have lived through, we’re faced with the job of creating a b2b marketing plan in a post-pandemic reality - and quickly discover there is no handbook for this.
When handed a task with no precedent, it helps to look for similar situations in the past and what we can learn from them. And that’s exactly what we did in our surprisingly popular webinar: The dos and don’ts of a post-pandemic b2b marketing plan—we took an in-depth look at the companies that succeeded and failed through previous recessions, and why.
Here are the top 10 take-outs for your post-pandemic b2b marketing plan in TL;DR form.
1. Prioritise listening
You must—MUST—understand how customers define value in your category right now. What they valued most about you in 2019 is almost certainly not the same as in 2020. Actually, it’s even more fluid than that. What they valued most about you a month ago has probably changed since. Whether you do social listening, monitoring, pulse surveys, paid advertising tests or direct phone calls with customers, staying in tune with your market is mandatory for getting your message right.
2. Bring the proof
When budgets are tight and the future uncertain, customers need more confidence in the items they are buying. Case studies, success metrics, testimonials, customer referrals and advocacy are all your besties for the coming 12 months. If your budget for content is tight, focus on this type.
3. No hard sells
Unless you’re lucky enough to be in a growth market, the hard sell will go down like a lead balloon. Take the more human approach: build relationships, create trust and show value. Then keep the relationship warm, providing value over time without the pressure.
4. Few are buying, but everyone is listening
Any message related to shoring up business or creating strength, certainty and resilience during uncertain times is engaging audiences across the b2b board. Try to talk less about your product and more about how your brand is caring for or helping a community. Don’t forget, many humans and organisations have been severely impacted by the pandemic, so bring sensitivity to your message.
5. Quick wins in content
There are ways you can really win quickly with content right now. Social media polls, webinars and live Q&A sessions with experts are all kicking butt in content land, and they don’t take forever to pull together. Most of these will also get you some instant market feedback—win, win.
6. Customer marketing
Customers who already love you are a rich source of revenue, advocacy and referral. A Net Promoter Score (NPS) program is easy to set up and will help you identify opportunities and reduce churn. Don’t forget that new leads will take longer to convert during a downturn, so look after what you have and make a proactive plan to grow this segment.
7. Sales enablement
Unless you’re in healthcare, online collaboration or remote work, sales will be working twice as hard as normal to achieve the same conversions during the downturn, so do what you can to improve their efficiency and empower them with knowledge. Battle cards, sales automation, video demonstrations, templated proposals or rate cards, email templates and sequences are all tools marketing can provide to help sales in their every day work.
8. Tech stack review
Make sure your tech stack is working effectively and efficiently for you. Don’t put up with cobbling together five different tools for your work, and hours or days for reporting across platforms. There simply isn’t time for that any more. Show your stakeholders the time and money you’ll save and the rich data you’ll reap with a strong tech stack. Look for one that has everything you need in one place, as well as user-friendly analytics to boot. We, of course, recommend HubSpot and use it for our own marketing. [Note: We’ve used and supported nine or ten other automation systems for clients over the past decade, so we kinda know what we’re talking about.]
9. Monthly or quarterly planning
If you have to put in for a 12-month budget, make sure there is money in the kitty for customer marketing, tech stack and research, if nothing else. But only detail plans out for the short-term—so much is changing and you don’t want to waste intricate planning time only to find the market has taken a different turn. Our advice is to do a high-level 12-month roadmap for budget, then a weekly action plan for the coming 8 to 12 weeks, and report outcomes at the end. Then use these insights to plan the following period, rinse and repeat.
10. Keep your brand in market
We challenge the premise that marketing budgets are the first to go in a downturn. Perhaps once, when marketing did not hold the data on the customer and was thought of as the colouring in department, this was true. But now, marketing is uniquely placed to understand and advise on what the market is up to—essential to strong decision-making, business survival and growth. If you’re showing your value with market intelligence, community-minded brand messaging, sales enablement and customer growth during this period, the budget should be yours.
This is not the time to go dark on your audience either. During tough and uncertain times, people need to see the brands and voices they’re familiar with. They need to know you’re still there, you’re still strong and you’ll be ready to go when they are. Fight hard for your budget—not because you want to do cool things, but because it is the right thing for your audience.
If you want more evidence that these strategies will work in a downturn, check out our on-demand webinar, where we feature case studies of companies that have grown and diversified during previous recessions using our top ten take-outs.