Marketing

ABM and COVID-19: Adjusting your strategy to a strange new world

09 . 04 . 20

Like the rest of the world, the B2B marketing world is recalibrating to a very different reality. 

 Coronavirus has forced organisations everywhere to take an entirely different viewpoint to their 2020 marketing. To rethink and reassess. As an agency with many ABM campaigns under our belt, we’ve been reassessing what that means for ABM, one of B2B marketing’s most dynamic strategies. How should ABM be adjusted to this new working environment? What is sensitive and appropriate? How can we provide value as requirements change so rapidly? 

In looking at these questions, and a host of others thrown up by the prospect of carrying out ABM while COVID-19 continues to affect the business world, our Directors Lorna and Renaye have developed a webinar on the subject. You can watch the full webinar below, or read on for some of the headline insights from the discussion. 

Watch the webinar

 

The good news is ABM is better placed than most marketing strategies to respond to the unique challenges marketers are currently facing. ABM is highly flexible and personalised by nature and so, though priorities and strategies may change, it’s a marketing strategy that can not only survive, but thrive in this new working world. It is, however, something of a long-term approach, and so as we face short-term shifts in strategy, with the long-term future of the industry obscured by reactive marketing and COVID-19’s lengthy shadow, it’s crucial to know how to readjust our methods…

When it comes to B2B marketing amid COVID-19, there’s no doubt that – yes – now’s a time to be sensible with your budgets and maybe even scale back. But do not simply cut everything off. Your potential customers are still at work and, actually, are a more captive audience than ever. CTOs are not out and about, they’re at home in front of their computer, planning how to take their company forward. Show them that your business can help.

OK, so perhaps 1918’s outbreak of the Spanish flu is a little long ago to take anything from, but while there may not be any specific moments in time to draw inspiration from, we can certainly learn from the response to 2008’s financial crash. On that occasion, the brands who thrived were not those who panicked and bombarded clients with opportunistic hard-sells. It was those who invested in their brand, taking a long-term view and improving their standing in the eyes of potential customers who came out the other side. That’s part of the appeal for ABM, and COVID-19 will not change that.

Working remotely has blurred the lines between our working and personal lives, and that’s a nice thing. Kids might burst into a boardroom catch-up at a moment’s notice, or somebody’s housemate might start calling them down for lunch.

 With that in mind, there’s no reason why your ABM campaigns can’t adopt a somewhat more familiar tone with your account targets. Perhaps, as well as personalising your campaign to their business goals, you can tailor it to their personal lives, too. A colouring book for their children to enjoy while they carry out a call with your sales team, for instance. Touches like this can work wonders.

This is something that’s been on the horizon for a while now in B2B marketing, but the unwanted arrival of coronavirus may just have the happy side-effect of the industry showing its human side. If your ABM messaging is going to hit home at home then you’ll need to be adopting more real, conversational messaging. Your targets are sitting on their sofa – so why make them feel uncomfortable?

We understand it’s a pain. You might already have spent hours selecting and perfecting that list of target accounts, but the fact is, things have changed, and you need to go with it. In our recent webinar, 52% of marketers were reconsidering their targeting strategy. Some targets experiencing extreme cash flow challenges may not be in the right place to be looking for your business right now, whilst others, like collaboration tools and supermarket chains, are positively thriving. Marketers are also doubling down on existing customers and warm prospects to see a better chance of success. 

Every marketer is, of course, conscious of the need to be extremely considerate about the messaging to ensure that you don’t unintentionally appear tone deaf.  Tactless references to the current coronavirus are a big no-no, as are brash, opportunistic marketing messages that concentrate on sales. Equally, ignoring COVID-19 altogether feels like burying your head in the sand. Now’s a time to be sensitive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t speak optimistically – people are hearing enough scare-stories as it is at the moment. To tread the fine line correctly, make sure you have a team whose judgement you trust around you, and consult them throughout your messaging development. Where content is focused around adapting to COVID-19 it must be genuinely valuable, sharing advice, and most importantly, not selling. 

What are your customers talking about at the moment? What are their major concerns? Social listening has always been key to finding that perfect nugget of insight and basing your ABM campaign around it, but at a time like this it’s more critical than ever. Hear your customers’ priorities, consider them, and present your business as the opportunity to break free from them.

Unfortunately, ABM and COVID-19 makes for a somewhat different creative outlook. At Digital Radish, we pride ourselves on our highly creative and personalised direct mails, but we’re sad to have to say that, realistically, DMs will be taking a back seat for a while. There’s no point sending a beautiful piece of creative to an empty office, after all. Although…

 That doesn’t mean the principles that underlie a great creative DM should be lost. A great concept, powerful messaging and beautiful creative can still go a long way.

Even if DMs are out of the question, that doesn’t mean you can’t reach an individual account with a highly targeted piece of digital marketing. There are countless ways you can do this digitally – many of which can be highly personalised – and if your account selection, insight, messaging and creative are bang on the money, it’s bound to catch their eye. Personalised content-led landing pages can provide hubs of tailored information and resources creating experiences that feel as personal and creative as a DM through the door. 

As we’ve mentioned in a few of the above points, that hard sell just isn’t going to cut it at a time like this, and that’s going to have a real impact on your sales team’s effectiveness.

The positive side to that is that now’s the perfect time to get the team well and truly integrated with these softer sell, more brand-led marketing campaigns you’re producing. Sales staff’s skill sets can be put to use deep-diving into each account, grasping those insights that will pay dividends in the long run, so use them!

Want to learn more?

So, there you have it. Play your cards right, and ABM and coronavirus can co-exist. If you found our above tips helpful, there’s a whole load more insight to be gained from the webinar, ‘ABM in the time of COVID–19’. Watch the full webinar right here, or contact our Director Renaye at Renaye@digitalradish.co.uk for a chat about ways you can make your ABM work – even in the time of COVID-19.