September 10th, 2020

A Global B2B Marketer’s Take on Coping with the COVID-19 Crisis

We are all in a state of uncertainty. With the COVID-19 affecting the marketing climate at a fast pace, B2B marketers need to be in tune with the changing market and adapting their brand messaging. It makes it all the more challenging because there's no playbook for this. No one ever saw it coming, no one knew that it would affect the entire world the way it is so doing right now. While some organizations are pausing activity, some are also trying to operate business as usual. In your position as a global B2B marketer, what exactly is the right thing to do?

In this situation, there's always a thin line between selling your products and staying under the radar, and remaining true to campaigns that are tasteful and never tone-deaf about any given situation. In times of crisis, you are given the challenge to make a stand, and how you can project the brand to be helpful and valuable in terms of helping the society and all that surrounds it--all while sounding sincere and genuine. You need to be able to make them look back in the future and think, "Oh, that brand sincerely helped the country during that crisis. I clearly remember that."

Again, what should be a B2B Marketer's attitude in this time of crisis? It's about communicating a stance of compassion and assistance, not one of the self-serving marketing messages and cold sale pitches about the current pandemic. Here are some tips to keep in mind during this time:

1. The risk of being too hard-sell or appearing to be exploiting the crisis for gain is very threatening. If you trigger this the wrong way, the people will remember this, damaging your brand for a very long time.

2. In contrast, you can't pretend like it's business-as-usual and ignore the situation completely. You need to empathize with your audience, making them feel that you're in this with them, and that you're also going through similar situations as them, without being too obvious about it. You must be able to pivot or recalibrate your entire marketing plan so as to adapt to the current situations.

3. You must find a way to adapt to the shifting sands that the COVID-19 crisis has presented the world by changing your brand message from the product to the service capability of how to help the community solve an immediate pain point/pandemic. Use this time to build trust, and in a way, recognition (but don't make that your priority, please) by demonstrating what you are doing to help.

4. Avoid compromising brand reputation by contributing a less-than-relevant "noise" as part of an overwhelming use of broadcasts, tweets, posts, e-mails and multimedia broadcasts dominating the screens of potential customers who are actually looking for helpful information.

5. Again, avoid pushing sales or self-serving messages!

How is your organization currently dealing with the pandemic? What are the biggest challenges you are currently dealing with right now?