B2B IN LOCKDOWN #1: Should you be marketing at all?

By Ian Blake on 07 April 2020 14:03:09 BST


Looking back, it almost seemed to happen overnight.

One day, it was business as usual, albeit with one eye on a rapidly evolving and unsettling concern.

The next day, an existential threat started banging at our doorstep. 

The banging has only gotten louder, and for many the door will collapse. But others will survive.

For many B2B tech companies who offer some form of digital transformation in their products or services, you may have no reason to pivot your offering. But you will need to be sensitive in your messaging.

Unfortunately some industries will suffer disproportionately regardless.

In these times of uncertainty, there are no rights and wrongs, but if we share our thinking and follow good advice, we can get through this, together.

With that goal in mind, we thought we would share our thoughts (and we’ll continue to search social feeds for other opinions)

  • Should B2B brands be marketing during covid 19?
  • If yes, what should that look like?
  • If not, what else could we be doing with our time and budgets?

Should B2B brands be marketing during covid 19

Our advice? Do what feels right for you. 

If you think you can add value to your audience and help them through this crisis, then go ahead. Your audience is looking for guidance right now, your industry needs thought leaders to stand up.

If you have an idea for a value-added helpful blog or a video that you can throw together from your kitchen, then do it. You don’t want to be seen as capitalising on a crisis. So adding value is key. 

If you don’t feel like it’s right to market at this time, jump to the last section - what else could we be doing with our time and budgets.

If you are marketing, what should that look like

From a marketing communications perspective, you can offer advice, share your story, tell others in similar situations what you are doing to get through this time. 

If you have a SaaS offering that would help others survive the crisis, then you could consider opening up certain premium features for free or extending trial periods during the pandemic. Zoom are a perfect example here who are fast becoming famous for all the right reasons. (Although let’s not get into potential data privacy issues that the company are currently addressing).

There are plenty of others doing something similar. Atlassian, Okta, Tableau and Intermedia are extending free versions of their offerings to organisations to help them stay afloat during the global pandemic.

Lots of people have more time on their hands and digital content consumption is rising. The Guardian’s daily digital traffic has been up by a half year-on-year. Nine of its 12 busiest days have come in the past two months. Video views are up 60%.  Publications like the Economist and the FT have opened their paywall on coronavirus related content.

All businesses are making changes and adapting, and if your company is ahead of the curve and your advice is worth sharing and relevant to what you offer, well then share this.

If you can stay visible during this time, make sure you help your audience navigate through these difficult times. 

If not, what else could we be doing with our time and budgets

If for whatever reason, you struggle to create offers or messaging that helps in this time, (which by the way, there is nothing wrong with) there are a number of things that you could do, to help when the dust settles on our new normal world. 

Nobody knows what this world will look like or behave, but we have to act on the assumption that there will still be a market for our products or services when all this is over. And the more you do during this time, the better you are prepared to hit the ground running when things do turn around.

There is a mountain of things that always get pushed back, or take a back seat to getting campaigns out the door. Now is the time to address this, be it housekeeping or big picture thinking.

Here are a few examples that come to mind:

  • Refine your positioning 
  • Clean / Update your database
  • Refine your SEO
  • Research trends in your industry or in your next project, e.g. website UX trends for your new website (that always got pushed back).
  • Study what the competition are doing

There are lots of other things that you could be doing. Perhaps you could use this time to your advantage. As a marketing agency, we’re so busy with our clients work, that our own positioning and website overhaul took a back seat for too long. 

We’re making up for that lost time now ourselves. It’s a familiar story for many agencies and clients alike. We always look after our customer’s concerns and projects first. 

Now, might be the time to redistribute your time and resources internally, and be fully prepared to hit the ground running whenever the time feels right for you.