I recently read a couple of articles about marketing during a downturn. Both urged businesses to resist the natural temptation to cut marketing during this, or any, crisis. They got me thinking about what marketing should be doing to prepare the business for the eventuality that things recover.
McKinsey recently published a COVID-19 response checklist for B2B marketing leaders. In addition to resetting and recalibrating your marketing activities, the authors advocate redefining your value proposition and value selling strategies to meet customer needs in the current selling environment.
The second article is from Amphora Consulting and is titled Are You Ready to Come Out on Offense? It also emphasizes working on your marketing strategies now to come out stronger later.
Our post focuses on the tactical activities your marketing team can be doing to lay a stronger foundation for future marketing and sales activities.
Spend Your Time Wisely
How you spend your marketing time directly impacts the results of your efforts. And chances are, your team has more time available than usual. Most B2B organizations spend a significant amount of marketing time on conferences and trade shows. Many spring events with more than ten people have been canceled or postponed, and we don’t yet know what will happen with events this fall. Working remotely also frees up time, creating opportunities to strengthen your messaging and value proposition.
Take advantage of this extra time and use it for activities that get pushed aside when things are busy.
Rebuild Your Foundation
Here are five areas your marketing team can focus on to improve results during this downturn and beyond.
1. Understand Customer Needs
It’s always important to understand the voice of the customer (VOC), and now is a great time to gather insights that can steer your marketing and sales efforts. Many B2B customers are working from home, some for the first time, and might welcome human interaction. Their time is likely more flexible as well.
Consider scheduling a phone call or video meeting to talk about their business. Are they focused on short-term gains or long-term strategic objectives? Does your offering have more or less value for their business? You might be surprised by what you discover!
2. Review Website and Marketing Collateral
Have you updated your website and collateral within the last 60 days? If not, now is the time to invest in reviewing your messaging, evaluating how well it is conveyed across all communication channels, and updating where needed.
Is your messaging fresh and relevant? Does it adequately articulate which problems you solve for customers? Is your value proposition presented in a compelling way? Does your website and marketing collateral include targeted content for all customer groups?
3. Strengthen Your Sales Process
If you’re still doing what you’ve always done, use this time to revisit key aspects of your sales process. Talk to your sales team about what is and isn’t working. Are there areas for improvement? What obstacles can be removed to increase close rates? Look for opportunities to improve so that sales will be ready when the market recovers.
4. Update or Build Sales and Marketing Tools
Digital assets and tools are an integral part of today’s sales process. Popular tools include value calculators, assessment tools, and ROI tools. If you already have these sales and marketing tools, when was the last time they were updated? Keeping your tools relevant is critical to presenting prospects with a solid business case.
If you don’t have value selling tools, now is a great time to deploy them. Our colleague, Bruce Scheer, wrote a recent post highlighting why Painfully Obvious Value is more important now than ever. Likewise, every sales conversation eventually turns to money, so you need to be ready to justify your price.
Your top sales performers likely understand the importance of having value-based sales conversations supported by accurate and believable data. Take steps now to enable the rest of the team to up their game when the market turns.
5. Build a Backlog of Blog Content
If you have a blog, then you know how challenging it can be to create new content that is informative and genuinely helpful. Write about the insights you acquired from VOC calls, or perhaps your assessment of the state of your market. Consider topics that demonstrate your thought leadership as well as those that offer practical guidance. Then build out your editorial calendar and write a few months of content while things are quieter than usual.
Don’t let productivity suffer because of remote working situations. Take advantage of this downturn by having your marketing team focus on actively working on your business. Avoid the trap of cutting marketing to save money because the damage sustained could be irreparable. Instead, invest your human and financial resources into rebuilding and strengthening your marketing and selling foundation.
Connect with Darrin Fleming on LinkedIn.
Visit the ROI Selling Resource Center.