Sales and Marketing in the Post COVID-19 Economy
Driving sales and executing a flawless marketing campaign have never been easy. There are too many variables that decide their fate. So, when you add a viral pandemic to that list, navigating the market becomes even more difficult.
But far be it from the virus to discourage you from hitting your revenue targets. With awareness of the change that’s happening around you, adapting to it won’t seem too daunting.
Here is what sales and marketing might be like in the post-COVID-19 economy.
1. It’s okay to use sensitive and emotional messaging
COVID-19 has driven significant shifts in content and tone for marketing.
LinkedIn’s Senior Director and Head of Marketing Solutions confirmed that B2B brands are generating better engagement when their content is high on emotional value. Customers are being more responsive to brands that are focusing on the human element.
So, how can you leverage this opportunity?
Start by thinking about how relevant your marketing messages are in the current climate. Are you clearly demonstrating how you can help potential buyers overcome the range of challenges they are probably facing? Are you meeting the emotional and rational needs of the buying committee?
Content trends on LinkedIn show that brands are generating greater engagement when their content is uplifting and inspirational. Around 40% of B2B marketers say they’ve adopted a more emotional creative style as a result.
The golden rule of running a successful business has always been building relationships. If you’ve historically chosen money over people, the post-COVID-19 economy won’t be kind to you.
But whatever you do, make sure your message is unique…
2. Give people a reason to spend
Most of the world is in the middle of an economic dip. But two of the biggest markets in the world are anticipating an 18% and 25% hike in their income, respectively after the lockdown is over.
Being a luxury brand, Hermes’ flagship store in China witnessed $2.7 million worth of sales in just one day after lockdown was lifted. So, if that’s any indication of pent-up demand and willingness to spend, the next twelve months could be economically very promising.
Rewarding B2B buyers who choose to buy from you in lean times can be a great way to drive revenue and build loyalty, particularly if you operate a recurring revenue business model. Exclusive sign-up offers and service discounts are hugely effective during times when money is tight.
Running exclusive deals and limited-time offers for your customers is a also good way to persuade them to buy from you.
Whilst your profit margins will take a temporary hit, you should reap the rewards later down the line and your customers might just pass on the word to their suppliers or customers.
3. Invest in digital. It will pay off
Most B2B seller interactions have moved online. So, increasing your online presence and digitising the way customers can buy from you is key to sales and marketing in the post-COVID-19 economy.
In many parts of the world, online retail experienced a 21% rise in sales amid the quarantine. While order values have generally declined, e-commerce platforms continue to remain profitable even during the lockdown.
There’s a common belief amongst analysts that ‘hesitation’ is one of the causes for the boost in online sales. Customers are doubtful about returning to physical stores for “some time.” Understandably.
Although it is a concerning sales trend, it’s a cue for offline businesses to finally get themselves online now. And for the businesses already online, it’s a chance to improve the customer experience by making it easier and more seamless to transact with you.
4. Monitor buying behaviour and pivot with the trends
The B2B Future Shopper Report 2020 revealed that a total 63% of B2B customers switched their suppliers for some or all of their business purchases. And two out of the five major reasons cited for the switch were digital-related.
Customers did not want to buy from brands that didn’t provide a stable online experience in 2020 and this trend is likely to continue in the post-COVID-19 economy.
To keep up with these shifting buying trends, B2B brands would be wise to invest in monitoring their visitors’ purchase patterns and online behaviour. What is making them leave your site? What is making them stay? Is there a particular section of your site that is experiencing large drop-offs?
Employing tools like Google Analytics and Hotjar can help you get real-time answers for these questions, which will further help you adapt your marketing communications to meet the expectations of your customers in the post COVID-19 era.
Remember, agility is at the heart of modern marketing, especially in the post-pandemic world.
5. ROI-driven marketing over channel-driven marketing
Now that you can’t distribute flyers, the only cheap and direct way of contacting your prospects at scale is through emails.
While 87% of B2B marketers are using email marketing, email open rates have fallen to 17.8%. Although people are shut inside their homes, they are still not enthusiastic about opening marketing emails.
But Facebook, Google and LinkedIn ads are driving strong ROI post-COVID-19 between 30% to 50%. And it helps that paid ads are quite affordable, too. So, you might want to consider taking a different route.
6. Meeting consumer expectations in every way
Janet Balis, growth marketing expert at EY, explained the new truths about marketing after the pandemic in her latest article. B2B customers don’t hope you have what they are looking for, rather they expect it.
Balis explains that B2C and B2B buyers today expect that any experience will be frictionless, anticipatory, relevant, and connected. “In other words, they are concerned only with getting what they want, when they want it. And they insist nothing gets in their way.”
Even before the pandemic when customer expectations were on the rise, buyers expected hyper-personalisation in the communications they received. When COVID-19 came along, both digital transformation and customer expectations accelerated overnight.
Now, buyers want you to compete with their previous customer experience while hitting certain benchmarks. For example, diversity and inclusivity is expected in every piece of sales and marketing communication.
Similarly, having a mix of AI and machine learning at the core of customer experiences is another new consumer expectation, which drives sales and helps increase your demand in the market.
B2B customers also expect brands to ditch the one-size-fits-all approach and offer personalisation, allowing your business to be more relevant to their individual and specific needs at exactly the right time.
Seek professional help
In light of the coronavirus, not everyone is immune to the market climate. Nearly 100,000 businesses shut down while most have announced budget cuts in 2020.
If you are finding it difficult to navigate this new market situation, consider partnering with a B2B marketing agency. Since 2012, we’ve worked with brands across the board, from tech and software companies to manufacturers and cybersecurity, providing a range of B2B marketing services to help them thrive and grow.