The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the marketing industry. In this time of crisis, B2B marketers are facing unprecedented challenges and looking for innovative ways to cope with them. Due to declined sales and recession, the marketing budget of almost all the brands has gone down considerably. Moreover, the lack of marketing resources and a sudden shift to online marketing have worsened the situation. As a result, it becomes extremely important for CMOs to navigate the ever-changing waters of online marketing.
Having said that, this article not only covers the challenges faced by B2B marketers but also gives them the best advice by some of the well-known marketing and CS executives to get out of the current situation.
One of the biggest challenges faced by B2B marketers is to reopen the sales of their brands. Many brands have faced a massive backlash in the pandemic. Hence, reopening becomes a significant problem.
In this regard, Alon Ghelber, CMO at Revuze, says, “Customers are buying your product's features and not your brand, focus on the features that make your product great and use them as that base point for your marketing activities. Unless you are fortunate enough to have a well-established and recognized brand, feature marketing will always deliver better results, especially during this new normal.”
On being further asked to share his best advice to CMOs trying to navigate the ever-changing waters of online marketing, he suggests to “innovate and listen to the voice of your customers, analyze what they have to say about your product's features and overall experience. Using this goldmine of information to base your campaigns yields higher ROI on your campaigns and overall greater customer lifetime value.”
When asked the same question, Gily Netzer, CMO at Cymulate, advises CMOs to follow a different marketing approach. According to her, B2B marketers should adopt a Business-To-Human marketing approach. He believes that in times of crisis, your marketing approach should be unconditional.
In her own words, she says,
“I suggest adopting Business-To-Human Marketing during difficult times as people buy from people. With the challenge of getting through to the minds but also the hearts of prospects, companies are choosing to unconditionally help and delight without being able to forecast the return.”
In regards to online marketing, she recommends CMOs to make the best use of what digital transformation has to offer. Since spending on physical events, conferences, and promotions is no longer an option, Gily sees online marketing as imperative. She suggests marketers invest in online programs such as intent-based lead generation that cost more but have faster conversion rates.
While Gily Netzer advises CMOs to invest in online marketing, Melissa and Haim Pekel, VP Marketing and VP Growth at Ongage, advise them to follow a unique tone and strategy. For them, the right strategy is the key to navigate the ever-changing waters of online marketing.
Elaborating their point, they add, “There's now a real chance to make some impact with the right strategy. Nobody cares about what you're offering if you're not coloring it with a unique tone. If you're not standing out, talking to people, carving a niche for yourself and your brand, and even taking a stand against or pro. People are looking for authenticity more than ever now, sales marketing voices annoy them, and the usual "buy this," "try that" won't work.”
The same strategy of personalization is what they claim Ongage to follow during the pandemic. Ongage believes in gaining audience engagement through personalization. To achieve the same, they provide their customers with the right content that will have some real impact on their lives. As a result, they are able to keep up with the current crisis by understanding their customers better. And the same personal experience is what they share with other CMOs to cope up with the pandemic.
To add on to their point, Ben Linik, Director of CS at GeoSurf, suggests, "It’s important to listen to your customers and anticipate their needs, we usually use customer surveys for that, but alternative data sources like online reviews already give you a good understanding on where the wind blows."
When it comes to online marketing, Barak Yaari, CTO at Scrapezone, has a different suggestion to make. For him, data analysis and knowing one's market positioning is highly important in the digital world. He advises CMOs to "Focus on data-driven decisions and analyze data aggregated from alternative data sources such as marketplace reviews to understand your market positioning better. If a customer leaves a positive/negative review on your/your competitor's product, there are dozens more with the same thoughts that didn't place a review."
As we have seen, the pandemic offers many challenges to B2B marketers. The major one among them is to adapt to the new ways of marketing, such as investing in online marketing techniques. It's no doubt a difficult task to change the way of operating your business suddenly. Nevertheless, it's not impossible. With the right mind and a unique strategy, the marketing industry can sail through this unbelievable situation.