COVID-19: How you will be forced to rethink new business marketing?
Is this the end of business marketing as we know it or is it the beginning of a new era? [9 minute read]
No matter your view on the current state of affairs and ideas on it blowing over, the fact remains, businesses globally have been sent a message that the established and basic approach to generating new business through cold-calling and face-to-face communications has been severely restricted.
Before you start, you have to bear in mind that ‘change’ cannot be achieved in a few sentences, so grab a coffee, this will only take you about nine minutes to read. What’s in this article:
- What’s going to happen after COVID-19
- How B2Both (Microsoft & Google etc) are rolling out their services
- What B2B organisations have been doing ‘til now
- How to prepare for the future whilst on ‘Lock Down’
- What will new business look like in six months’ time
- How we can help – online & face-to-face
COVID-19 Business Advice: Top 10 Marketing Review Tips
No one knows what the temperature will be when this blows over, but one thing is for certain, no business will want to be as exposed as they have found themselves this year.
We have seen people switch from calmly doing their weekly shopping to auditioning for bit-parts in The Walking Dead or World War Z and acting like zombies buying up toilet paper and soap. My thoughts were, “well that escalated quickly - nothing like the reserved Brits queuing up for their food during rationing in the 1940s.”
It didn’t take long for all travel, events and face-to-face contact to be severely reduced. If, like me you have been thinking, “well, how will my business fair in the next few weeks and months?” Then you might be thinking along the lines of video conferencing and Skype.
I think the Brits will simply ‘Carry On Regardless’…
The likes of WebEx, On24 and Zoom are increasing their marketing, to ‘make-hay-while-the-sun-shines’ (for them at least) and their shares have shot up too. Microsoft have offered their top tier of Teams for free for six months and Google have given free access to their advanced ‘Hangout’ features.
But that only takes care of communicating with your staff and existing customers. What about generating new business? We all have to keep doing that too, as I doubt the government will be throwing multi-billion-pound support packages at SMEs any time soon.
Just because people are sitting at home for the time being, it doesn’t mean all business has ground to a halt.
You already know how difficult it is to find new business and positioning your organisation alongside prospective customers, with or without ABM. The trouble is, they don’t want to know - they rarely do - because you’re contacting them out-of-the-blue. We all react in the same way.
For at least fifty years, business marketing has relied on salespeople to find, meet and close new business. This approach has become increasingly difficult because people, like us, don’t like being cold-called and we also know we can find all the information we need online.
In an earlier article, I explained why Chief Marketing Officers only keep their jobs for about 18 months in the UK. In summary it was because they did what they had always done, got what they had always got, and got fired!
Based upon what prospective CMOs said in their interviews, Managing Directors and CEOs expected their new ‘hires’ to move the needle and generate more new business. Clearly, they didn’t/don’t. This is the reason why tenure for CMO posts in the past five years has remained at approximately 18 months.
Because of the CMOs’ poor performance, business leaders got involved and told them to ‘do what they did back in the day’. The CMOs were compliant and did as they were told because they didn’t have a better idea. And now, in 2020, a raft of businesses are going to suffer even more, because no one has a resilient marketing strategy that can keep functioning, no matter what the world, or China, throws at it.
The marketing options open to businesspeople right now are as follows:
- Sit tight, do nothing, wait and see
- Continue with cold calling and telesales, even if staff work from home
- Review existing operations and investigate new strategies for the future
Before I make any suggestions, try this for starters: -
- The Existing Approach is; I know you exist, and I will try and sell my product, whether you need it or not... (Not much good if you can’t call or meet them!)
- The approach we all need and want is; "I just wanted to let you know we exist and have everything you need online to help you make a decision to buy from us when you're ready..."
The second approach enables you to promote your business differently, and to a greater audience, instead of attempting to drive ‘Lead Generation’ and maintain the KPI calculations everyone applies today.
The only way to promote your B2B organisation is to post online
The fact is, it’s not simply about COVID-19; it is about the reluctance of marketers to adapt to a changing market. They tell business leaders to choose software platforms over content and accept a misleading argument between sales and marketing departments, who blame each other for poor performance.
The current state of affairs in business-to-business terms is an exact illustration why CMOs and marketing leaders have failed business owners and shareholders. I’m also not going to blame this on salespeople, as they have been conditioned to ‘sit and beg’ for leads. When they don’t sell, Marketing says it’s the salesperson’s fault, and vice-versa, until eventually they both get sacked.
That said, how can you adapt now? Firstly, there are two extremely important articles for you to read, not least because no one you employ will ever tell you what we will: -
- Why CMOs have failed and how to adapt to a new internal organisational structure that will change your overall business position.
- How to structure your content and why this is so important for your prospects - no matter what you create (written, video or podcast) or how they find it/you on search engines.
Our recommended strategy is to ensure your business is grounded in such a way that no external situation can adversely damage your stability. The business framework open to everyone is unprecedented, yet it has not been exploited by B2B and many will fail in the coming months.
Whilst marketing teams are at home, now is the time to get them to review what you already have and start planning for the next stage in your business life (and theirs!): -
- Review the overall B2B messaging to ensure that it’s all about the customer
- Compare the salesXchange SEO strategy against your existing articles to ensure they are written to comprehensively answer the questions and search intent of a prospect
- Download and review our Social 334 Strategy to create a timetable of ideas for new content
- Create a timetable for Newsletters to communicate your new content to prospects and customers
- Review existing web copy, brochures, presentation and promotional information to reflect your message and stop lead generation, i.e. attempting to capture emails (more on this a bit later)
- Create a video timetable for content that will replace the objective of cold calling
- Create a podcast timetable to include a list of people or customers to interview
- Create a timetable of adverts (short videos, graphics and memes) to auto-publish every day on social media, pointing to the content already created
- Review how webinars can be used to communicate your business and plan a test run
- Review, learn and plan for live events to be broadcast on LinkedIn Live, YouTube Live and Facebook Live from your offices
The Internet allows you to create content, reduce head count and get more profitable. But it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not just about writing a few blogs and it does involve changing the way you communicate information using video and podcasts and the way you manage and structure your teams.
Some years ago, there was a concerted effort to encourage businesses to allow for redundancy. That included uninterruptable power supplies, secondary telephone systems and all manner of computer-based contingencies, such as RAID and now cloud-based services (thank goodness for them!).
From a practical, new business perspective, organisations want to ensure continuity of income and that can only come from exploiting the Internet. It means providing sufficient and varied content that matches their prospects’ ‘search intent’ and communicates an accurate message demonstrating that: -
- You can actually help them ‘online’ - not just content, but FAQs, Online Chat (real people), Chatbots and responsive emails.
- You’re able to demonstrate you understand their various problems
- You can offer a variety of communications platforms, written, video or podcast, to communicate your company’s expertise by explaining in detail how they can solve their problem by using your product(s) and your services
- Your website will be about them and not about you. Unfortunately, no one cares about you, only themselves. They’re only interested in you if you can do something for them, so play the game and make your website all about them.
- You have sufficient digital integration with apps or guest logins to project management software like Microsoft Teams, Bitrix24 or any other online platforms, enabling full customer integration and communications so they feel part of the implementation program.
Of course, there’s more to it, but it’s not complicated. You need to start thinking about restructuring your business to accommodate prospects who are researching products and not to expect prospects to give you emails, that are euphemistically called leads (irrespective of lead scoring within marketing automation platforms).
We provide consultancy for the following:
- Defining, repurposing or writing your content
- Constructing an automated six-month marketing plan
- Scripting and planning videos
- Scripting and planning podcasts
- Video and podcast workshops and training for your staff to execute your own media shows
- We also provide a full turn-key service and carry out every element required to move your new business plan online and assist with the implementation of digital transformation.
Watch our films (videos), read the book (and brochures and articles) and listen to the podcast(s); whichever way you want to find out more, we’ve got it covered, as you will have your own customers’ needs covered too.
We’ve identified the problem and can offer a complete solution and that’s what salesXchange is all about. From redefining content strategies to planning digital workshops; from consultancy support to bespoke business groups, salesXchange has an exciting and business-focused approach to B2B marketing for technology, software and services companies.
If you want to increase your profitability and restore a sense of direction to your marketing, you can DIY or ask us to get involved. We can even chat via Skype/Zoom or meet dressed up in hazmat suits :)
Stay safe, think long term and it will all work out in the end.
- 8 Reasons: Hiring a Marketing Consultant (before a CMO or CRO) in 2020
- The Essential B2B SEO Guide for CEOs and Directors in 2020
About the Author
Nigel is the Founder & Managing Director of salesXchange and has been helping SMEs for over 25 years to develop their marketing, technologies and infrastructure to generate more profits, more efficiently. His recent book "Integrate! The Essential Business Technology & Marketing Handbook" can be downloaded from Amazon.