In B2B marketing, people still buy from people. For many CMOs, this involves in-person events, which can consume 30-40% of the budget. Although those events must be paused, you can repurpose those dollars to drive engagement in other meaningful and effective ways.

CMOs are in the people business. And that’s no different for B2B CMOs. Your customers, your decision-makers, your influencers—they’re all people. And like you, they’re all set with similar worries:

 

  • How long will my business be disrupted?
  • Which decisions can wait, and which ones can’t?
  • Can my business survive the recent turn of events?
  • How long will it take the economy to recover?

     

Your customers may be paralyzed with uncertainty. As the CMO, you lead the strategy for how your company will communicate to your audiences. You can set the tone for reassurance, empathy, and meaningful engagement with your brand.

 

A large part of your strategy to drive engagement was likely focused on events—events that have either been canceled or postponed in light of certain circumstances. But, don’t cut the budget. Consider reallocating these event dollars to these five areas to drive more meaningful conversations in the face of uncertainty. For a more in-depth look at how to reallocate your budget where it counts, check out our recent webinar from Friday, April 3rd.

 

1. ABM and Customer Marketing

 

Social distancing is impacting businesses across the world, but that doesn’t mean that your Go-to-Market teams are null and void. Now is the time to really double down on your ABM and customer marketing efforts to make sure that your strategy for reaching top customers and prospects is just as impactful today as it was a few months ago.

 

For your current customers, partner with Customer Experience and leverage customer marketing to reassure and let them know how you’re responding. In the absence of meeting with your top customers, work closely with your CX teams to identify and strategize ways of connecting and making sure customers are supported and reassured.  For your prospects, work with Sales to help them identify and communicate with top prospects that could benefit from your products and services now more than ever.

 

Now is the time to get creative. Beyond the obvious digital channels, you could consider bringing back some old school methods like hand-written thank you notes. Or, refresh old school tactics in a modern (and socially distant) way such as a digital coffee gift card or work from home survival kit. The critical concept to remember is that you need to make sure that your brand is communicating a tone of empathy and showing that you care about your existing customers and prospects.

 

2. Supporting Customer Experience

 

Your customer experience team is likely feeling overwhelmed as they try to reassure and retain your customers. Marketing needs to support CX now more than ever with the proper content, enablement, and data for your CX team to drive meaningful conversations.

 

In addition to providing relevant content to CX (which we will cover below), Marketing should also be leading with data. Your marketing automation systems are likely teeming with data on how behaviors have changed recently:

 

  • To which channels are your customers migrating? 
  • Can CX leverage these channels to reach customers more effectively? 
  • What type of content and messages are resonating with your customers?

     

Use your marketing systems to help answers these questions and help your CX teams craft the right message through the right channel. You could even go the extra step to mystery shop yourself and your competitors to understand the customer journey more fully. Between the data you have and the additional discovery you can employ, your CX team will be well equipped to have more impactful conversations and engagement with your customers. 

 

And don’t forget that CX can be supporting you, too. Constant feedback between CX and Marketing is critical to make sure that your strategies are aligned and sending messages that resonate.

 

3. Virtual Events

 

As events continue to be canceled in an effort to keep communities safe, you and your teams have likely been scrambling to redefine your event strategy. But your organization can still provide an engaging experience and share information through virtual events. The key is to be decisive with your event strategies. Which events are being canceled, which ones are postponed, and which have been repurposed virtually? Proactively communicate these decisions with your attendees and target audiences, and don’t forget to use this communication touchpoint to your advantage to get your attendees interested in the new event format.

 

As you decide which events to leverage digitally, remember that continuity is more important now than ever. Your audiences will appreciate not only the information and content that you are sharing but also the opportunity to have a sense of normalcy. So make sure to build in as many opportunities as possible to allow attendees to interact with you and with each other, from seeing each other on video to organizing a virtual social hour.

 

4. Inbound Marketing

 

Workforces around the world are migrating to their homes, resulting in an unprecedented rise in screen time. Email, social media, streaming, news outlets – they’re all seeing a surge in consumption. By employing inbound marketing efforts wisely, you can engage in more meaningful conversations that build your brand and build trust with your audiences. This is an opportunity to enhance your digital strategy—targeted email campaigns, increased SEO efforts, and updating your website, for example. 

 

But just because you have a captive audience doesn’t mean you have free reign to bombard customers and prospects with your marketing efforts. Make sure that your messages are relevant, empathetic, and useful. This is a moment that could make or break your brand, and customer-centric messaging is more important now than ever. So lead with empathy, not opportunity.

 

5. Content Marketing

 

As you pivot your marketing efforts to engage your prospects and customers, you will need supporting content. Even if you had a great content marketing strategy before, you need to invest now more than ever. As mentioned above, there are several teams and channels that are relying on updated and relevant content – customer marketing, virtual events, CX, and inbound marketing. 

Your messaging and content are critical right now, particularly for your top customers and prospects who need to know how your company is responding to rapidly changing events. This could impact their businesses and help them make critical decisions.

 

Your response to uncertainty is not the only message your content should be sending. Are there ways that your products and services could be helping your customers that they may not have considered? How can your business help solve any additional needs right now?

 

This is also a perfect time to do a content audit. Make sure to map the content that you have against the buyer journey and ask yourself questions like:

 

  • Are there any content gaps for the buying stages or personas?
  • Is the content outward in and solutions-focused?
  • How is the content performing with key audiences?

     

As you review your content, think about what could be repurposed for the moment. Cranking out net new content may be a waste of time and money.

 

Looking Forward

 

Keeping your marketing resources flexible is key to maintaining your brand, your customers, and your growth. As a CMO, remember to keep your marketing budgets agile so that you can respond in a way that resonates with your audiences and prepares your company for the future.

 

To learn more about how to keep your strategy agile, and align it to where you can drive the most growth, check out our recent webinar. It provides a deeper dive into the five places we are seeing our clients realigning their efforts to drive growth (and support from the CFO!).

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sara Winkle

Combining customer-driven insights and strategic vision to help clients unlock revenue potential.

Prior to joining SBI, Sara spent her career in several customer-facing roles in technology, media, telecom, business services, and hospitality. She has an innate ability to connect the dots between strategy and execution, ensuring that the end goal is never derailed by overlooked details.

 

While her industry experiences have varied, Sara’s passion for understanding the customer has not. She has always been keen to know who they are, what they need, and how they buy. She uses this curiosity to drive a deeper customer understanding, enabling executives to unlock untapped revenue with market-driven decisions. Her client portfolio includes Software, Retail, CPG, and Banking.

 

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