Blogs Stop, Look, and Listen: 5 Steps for B2B Marketing During a Crisis

Written by Paula Chiocchi on 0202-06-24


Over the past few months, and again in recent weeks, we’ve seen how quickly the world as we know it can change. In my last blog, I shared statistics and insight on how B2B buying is evolving, along with advice on how to plan your marketing for the rest of the year. While it’s helpful to use benchmark data to make informed decisions in trying times, that data takes time – and sometimes marketers need to be able to adapt as change happens. So how do we respond in a meaningful, timely way – without being rash?


Here are 5 steps to adapt your B2B marketing to hit the right note with your audience.


  1. Listen and Learn

It can be tempting to make fast decisions to keep up with an evolving situation. However, it’s important to take the time to properly assess the situation and consider your company, product or service offering, and the industry in which you operate. Of course, if you take too long, things will inevitably change. But instead of rushing into a new strategy, campaign, or jumping on whatever bandwagon is trending, formulate a thoughtful plan based on reliable information you’ve gathered. Aim for a balance that is responsive, but not reactive.


  1. Understand the Impact

Once you understand how the issue at hand relates to you and your customers, you can determine how it will impact your immediate actions (such as email campaigns, advertising, and website content) and any plans for the near future. This may mean halting a long-planned campaign because it’s no longer relevant, or delaying an upcoming sale if it doesn’t match the tone you want your messaging to reflect. You can’t dig in your heels on sending a specific campaign – even if you’ve spent a lot of time, money and resources on its planning – if the world is vastly different than it was a week ago.


  1. Read the Room

In challenging times, emotions are elevated. You need to be able put yourself in your audience’s shoes and ‘read the room,’ so to speak. Sales, gimmicks and normally harmless jokes can be detrimental if sent at the wrong time, or to the wrong group. Additionally, both what you say and what you don’t say may be judged by your customers and potential customers. Make sure your response, position or messaging appropriately aligns with your company and is relevant to your audience.


If you haven’t already, now would be an important time to segment your audience to ensure you can reach a specified group with the appropriate message. For example, an email campaign to a prospect in the travel and tourism industry should be different than one to a prospect that manufactures shipping supplies. The two have had enormously different experiences over the past few months and your messaging should reflect that.  


  1. Avoid “Packaged Empathy”

I’ve written recently about the importance of empathy, but it’s important to note that as trying times persist or new situations arise, your marketing messages need to continue to adjust to the current environment. Showing empathy means you understand (or are trying to understand) what your audience is feeling, and feelings change over time. Empathetic sentiments that were reassuring at first, become trite and can come off as “packaged empathy” if they’re overused. This can result in messages that miss the mark, or worse, lead to your audience having a negative view of your business.


  1. Adapt As You Go

            Now more than ever, it’s important for marketers to pay attention to what is happening

in the world and adjust accordingly. You may need to revise campaigns, review collaborations, adjust goals, and in some situations, it may be appropriate to pause or limit outreach (but not cut it off altogether) for a set time. Show your emotional intelligence by being aware of how situations evolve and adjusting your marketing to reflect the world as it is today.


As events unfold and new topics take center stage in conversations across the country, marketers need to be mindful and adjust in “real-time.” And remember, we don’t know what the future holds, so we may make some mistakes, but we can learn from them and strive to do better.


Outward Media’s proven data cleansing services and targeted, accurate email data can enable you to achieve better email marketing ROI and, ultimately, convert more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more.



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