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pivot b2b marketing

Five Ways To Pivot B2B Marketing Plans During The Pandemic

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com. Please find it here.

As we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are being forced to examine how, where and when to market themselves. It can be viewed as a reputation tightrope as businesses and brands delicately balance having a sensitive and compassionate tone with finding opportunities to remain operational in an uncertain time.

During the first few weeks of the pandemic, many businesses flooded customers’ inboxes with messages about how they were responding to COVID-19. So what do you say, or do, next? Some companies impulsively cut back their marketing efforts during a crisis, but now is not the time to take your foot off the marketing pedal. Instead, take a close look at your current marketing strategies, and adjust them. During this crisis, you can maintain and even gain a competitive advantage by investing more, not less, in your marketing strategy.

Here are five ways to pivot your B2B marketing plans to effectively position your business during the pandemic.

1. Adapt Your Messaging

Look for ways to put your audience first by using messaging with a sensitive, relevant, authentic and compassionate tone, and make it your priority to address their needs, questions and concerns. I took a deep dive into this topic in my last article about the best brand practices during the pandemic. This messaging should illustrate how you are helping customers while showing respect for the gravity of the situation. If you have a service that can help businesses save money during this time, adjust your mindset and message to be customer-centric and not filled with sales-speak.

Press releases and social media posts don’t need to stop, but pivot your content to match the current tone. Consider the timing of product launches and news by gauging the news media and social conversations to make sure your announcements are relevant and appropriate for the current business environment.

2. Engage Face To Face Virtually

If you were planning to invest money into trade shows or other on-site events that have since been canceled or postponed, consider investing that budget into virtual events. By using virtual meeting programs such as Zoom or Google Meet, you can reformat in-person events into engaging virtual gatherings. Hosting or attending virtual events and webinars is a quick, interactive, efficient and effective option for connecting in real time with your customers and prospects.

3. Redirect Marketing Spending To Expand Your Virtual Exposure

As you reallocate marketing dollars, consider leveraging digital advertising to grow your brand presence and business online. Social media ads can help drive consistent messaging to your current customers, network and prospects. With people currently spending more time at home and online, now is the time to jump into digital ads if you haven’t yet. Not only can ads help you build brand awareness, but they also can capture new leads and help you build your email marketing list. To get even more high-quality leads, consider using LinkedIn’s lead generation forms with your sponsored content on the platform.

You can also work on improving your business’s SEO. Invest in your SEO so you can improve your organic rankings now and be better positioned when the pandemic is over. With so many people online, this is a critical component of keeping your digital real estate relevant and top of mind.

4. Focus On Current Customers

Lasering in on your current customers has never been as important as it is right now. Be present. Listen to your existing customers. Find out what your customers are doing and saying by monitoring their behavior and sentiment, as it relates to your industry or brand, on social media channels. You may uncover a new problem your business can solve or find an opportunity to communicate something that your loyal customer base desperately needs.

It’s also critical for your business to show empathy and put customers first with every communication. Not sure where to start? Consider these questions:

• How can we help our existing customers?

• Can we offer more products and services?

• Can we offer them discounted rates or additional value?

• What partnerships can we make to improve our products and services?

5. Share More Content — And Make Sure It’s Appropriate

As traffic on both news websites and social media platforms surges with more people at home, a strong content marketing plan is crucial.

Businesses can provide value and help during stressful events. Let your brand tell your story by leaning into the human side of your business. For example, share more personal and charitable stories to become more connected with your audience. Also, using employee-generated content is a sincere approach to humanizing your business during the pandemic.

Content should revolve around the value your product or service provides and how customers will benefit when they are ready to purchase. Remember to keep the focus on helping people so it doesn’t look like you’re bragging or being self-serving.

Here are a few tips for churning out appropriate content during this unfamiliar time.

• Make sure you adjust and reevaluate campaigns and content that were scheduled before the pandemic.

• Ensure that your messaging is empathetic and not tone-deaf.

• Create helpful content to educate, entertain and inspire people.

• Add value by keeping people informed about your business operations, closures or policy updates.

• Communicate your brand’s value during this critical time.

As we maneuver through this crisis, don’t pause your marketing plans. A strategic pivot with a global consciousness and tact can be your guide to continuing brand awareness and outreach during this new marketing landscape.

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