In the COVID-19 world, marketers are at the forefront of innovation

By: Cara Sloman, executive vice president, Nadel Phelan, Inc. 

The B2B marketing landscape continues to evolve in the face of new circumstances, opportunities and challenges. For 2020 in particular, companies faced a new challenge – navigating a completely digital style of communications, with most in-person sales and marketing tactics off the table due to the COVID pandemic 

To better understand how budgets, priorities and projections have shifted for 2021, Nadel Phelan ran a survey of business-to-business (B2B) tech leaders and marketing pros to understand how they course-corrected their sales enablement strategies due to the strictures put in place by the pandemic. The data and insights gained from the survey echo a resounding attitude of optimism and resilience: many organizations are increasing marketing spend and doubling down on content marketing to support inside sales and deliver customer value. Take a look below at what we’ve learned. 

Innovate marketing to meet customers where they are  

Despite the pandemic’s market disruption, over half of organizations said they’d maintained or increased marketing budgets this year. This is a smart move, because though budget cuts may be inevitable due to company priorities and shifts in the economy, hitting the pause button on marketing hurts your short and long-term market position.  

Companies exist to solve customers problems. Investing now in marketing efforts will build trust and visibility and pay off down the road. Those who face change and disruption with resilience will come out ahead 

Being resilient involves finding out what efforts will support immediate goals as well as long-term success. With this frame of mind, marketers can use disruption and uncertainty to their advantage and find ways to innovate to help customers. Your new approach should focus on the data you have and your customer feedback, keeping your goals and those of customers top of mind. 

Turn your marketing into media  

Because the pandemic has radically transformed the B2B marketing landscape, marketers are reconsidering how to best reach and engage with prospects and customers. Our research found that about 60% of companies reallocated trade show budget to digital marketing efforts including content marketing, social media, blogs, whitepapers and other owned content plus SEO/SEM. 

Content marketing in particular has taken off as today’s buyers look for trustworthy content that addresses their pain points. Owned content can serve as a great relationship-building tool with potential prospects; this can be particularly powerful when in-person meetings are off the table. Sharing owned content can also provide organizations with greater insights and feedback on content value, especially when tracking with a marketing automation tool.  

Today’s buyers need content that builds trust through addressing their pain points. Instead of salesy, overly promotional communications, they want informative, exciting and shareable information. By developing communications that speak to this need, marketers can engage with customers and prospects more effectively to generate demand and nurture leads.   

Companies are optimistic about their futures 

Over 75% of survey respondents anticipate marketing spend will stay the same or increase from Q420 to Q121. This is in keeping with the overall hopeful sentiment in the tech industry, underscored by the fact that while many startups, once predicted to collapse due to the pandemic, have flourished instead. At the same time, experts are forecasting strong growth for B2B tech companies. Venture capitalists still have significant funds that theyre required to invest a portion of each year. In addition, the Federal Reserve is keeping rates low and guaranteeing debt.  

So, despite chaos across daily headlines, there’s decisive optimism to galvanize your team through 2020 and beyond. A highly tuned focus on customer needs and how you can best engage with them through content and communications will be key to entering 2021 in a leadership position.   

Looking to support your sales enablement strategy with content and PR during the new normal? We have more than 25 years of experience in the B2B tech space and have successfully navigated two economic downturns. Contact us to see how we can help.