Corona Strategies for B2B: Embrace the Opposite

April 22, 2020

By Lana Warner

One of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld is “The Opposite,” where George changes his luck by doing the exact opposite of what he’d normally do. He gets a girlfriend, a job with the Yankees, and moves out of his parents’ house. Normally I don’t take advice from shows about nothing, but there’s a strong kernel of truth in here for Business to Business (B2B) marketers in the midst of the pandemic. 

Business as usual is the exact opposite of what you should do right now. But you’re probably already wise to that with events and meetings being postponed or cancelled. These strategies offer valuable touchpoints to build relationships with customers over what can be a very long sales cycle. So now what? 

Here are four quick tips to embrace the opposite and turn this glass half empty into one half full.

1. See home as an opportunity, not a lost chance to make an impression.

Traditionally, B2B marketers have struggled with targeting decision makers at home. How do you know if you’re actually reaching the CEO and not her husband or son? Account-based marketing often relies on reverse IP lookups to see where decision makers are during the work week, at set work hours, in specific locations. This triangulation helps B2B marketers associate digital devices to a particular target company and then address accordingly. Those halcyon days are on pause as your customers are now working at home. 

Most likely budgets are also on pause for big B2B expenses. However, B2B is about building relationships for the long-term so use this short-term to educate your customer about your unique advantages. eMarketer rather presciently asked B2B buyers pre-Corona what they’d need from sellers if 2020 fell into a recession. About a third said they’d need “more quality and accurate information about what they are buying.” Folks working at home are heavy into research right now so give them something to sink their teeth into. Now is your chance to move some of those low-funnel dollars into higher-funnel education like webinars, white papers, blog content and nurture campaigns.

2. Time is not a constant you can rely on anymore.

The workday used to be reliable. You could count on 9–5 as a discrete time period to reach buyers at work. Today, not so much. Those with children may start their workday as early as 7 a.m., be away from their desks for longer periods midday, and then work late into the evening. Use data to understand these new work habits and open up your window to reach buyers beyond the traditional workday.

3. Speaking of time, use the upsurge of TV data to conquest online.

TV viewership is way up. B2B buyers now have access to three screens all day: laptop, mobile phone, and TV. While your competitors spend on TV, you can reach those same audiences online. How? TV to online data conquesting is not new but it can be an important tool in your arsenal to steal competitive share. Create segments of those who watched your competitor’s TV ads and reach them online, on mobile, or CTV.

4. Take a page out of the B2C playbook and focus on the Consumer.

B2B marketing is all about the business, especially when it comes to attribution. This engineer read a solution white paper. This tech manager came to an event. These touchpoints roll up to the business, not the individual doing the action, so marketing can attribute ROI correctly. 

At home, all those bets are off. When buyers are in the office, their top concerns may have been agility and procurement. But those same buyers are now at home and most likely their priorities have shifted to mobility, collaboration, connectivity, etc. Take a cue from B2C and speak to your customer where they’re at. How is your solution/service  going to make that individual’s life easier, more productive, less stressful — from a business AND human perspective? 

Expand your view of the customer. Pre-pandemic, you may not have been interested in demographics, children in the household, what shows your customers watched. Make it your priority to be interested now. Embrace second and third-party data to get to know customers on an individual level and speak to them from that perspective. Again, B2B is a relationship business. Invest in strengthening those relationships with people now and see who they remember when business picks up. 

But wait, there’s (always) more.

Test a more human voice in brand messaging. Make sure you tag your entire funnel for virtual events. Experiment with trials and alternative payment options. Expand personalization tactics, and take a human-first approach. I’ve got a ton more tips for B2B brands. Email me and let’s brainstorm together. Be safe, stay home.