B2B Marketing Strategies Without Face-to-Face Networking

Since the start of the pandemic, It seems that each time I speak to a fellow business colleague, the conversation always seems to drift toward a marketing question that I didn’t have a clear handle on myself — “how can I market myself and my company when I don’t have the ability to form relationships through face-to-face networking?”

For those of you who know me, having a question that I can’t answer just isn’t acceptable! Especially a marketing question. So over the past several months, I have been researching this question and have been able to arrive with, what I have determined, the best marketing strategies to circumvent this dilemma.

Allow me to share them with you now:

Make the most of what’s still here.

Many of the B2B trade shows, conferences, and meetups already on your calendar are going virtual, so you have plenty of opportunity to still take an active role, for lead generation, and for deepening your relationship with current customers. Ideas include:

  • — Take out a sponsorship to gain visibility and perhaps a speaking slot.
  • As an attendee, get active in the chat rooms and networking sessions found in many of
    • these platforms.
  • Do some competitive sleuthing in the expo hall.
  • Pump up your omnichannel marketing.

During the pandemic, your customers and prospects could be anywhere, physically. But online, they are literally everywhere. This is the time to get your identity capabilities updated, so you can recognize your targets wherever they are, on whatever device.  New “identity graph” technologies are now available to help you develop a consistent experience for your customers, online and off.

Get to know the person behind your business customer.

Reach your business contacts when they are working at home. Your business buyers and prospects have personal lives that can add richness to your understanding of their needs and preferences. So, take the initiative to link the consumer record to your business customer files. Not only will you gain unexpected insights, you will expand your breadth of communications options.

Create your own proprietary virtual events.

Proprietary events are a fast-growing marketing medium, having proven their worth over decades.  For current customer marketing, B2B marketers have long operated successful user groups. Many have become more ambitious, organizing public events to both deepen customer relationships and generate new prospects. Your existing client conference calendar can be converted to virtual. Consider launching a public virtual event, to attract new prospects.

Take the time to clean up your customer and prospect records.

Review your marketing database to assess its accuracy and completeness. This is a good time to engage a vendor to help you correct errors and fill in the missing elements. Identify any important data that is unavailable from vendors, and conduct survey campaigns to collect what you need.

Deploy small-group meetings.

Video conferencing tools are most effective when applied to groups of fewer than 10, when all participant faces are visible, and everyone can feel comfortable enough to really engage. This is a perfect medium for small meetings on niche topics of special interest, or a series of invitation-only events on more general topics. Guided by a moderator, attendees can get to know one another and converse, sometimes even more intimately than face to face. Position the event as peers sharing ideas and experiences. Add a short talk by an interesting speaker as an extra attraction. Look at this as a form of content marketing, so make it informative and not sales-oriented.

Expand your webinar and podcast programs.

Identify key problems that your customers face, and build content around addressing these problems. Promote the programs through multi-channel communications. Repurpose the content for use in multiple channels: Social media, blogs, email, and more.

Pump up your website chat tools.

Chatbots are growing in sophistication and functionality. Take advantage for purposes of customer engagement, data collection, and customer service.

Build a community.

This is a strategy proven successful, where you control the ultimate in owned media. Follow the steps in Michael Brenner’s comprehensive guide The Content Formula to attract targets to a content-rich environment where visitors get answers to their pressing business problems. Look for inspiration at Adobe’s CMO, SAP’s Digitalist, and Bank of America’s Business Advantage.

Convert your social media followers to multi-channel connections.

Very likely you have followers on Twitter and other networks whose names are not in your marketing database. You can access full records of these followers through reverse append services.

Credit to BrandUnited.com, Biznology.com and Ruth Stevens (www.ruthstevens.com)

Does your Business Make a Great First Impression?

Each impression you make – especially the first – is a priceless movement in time to convince your prospect whether or not he should do business with you or go elsewhere.

But have you stopped to think that in today’s world, your first impression isn’t always going to be in person, face-to-face?  More than likely, your company’s first impression will take place when you’re nowhere to be found. 

On a regular basis, it’s important to evaluate what message your business is putting out there for potential customers.

Pretend you are a first-time customer checking out your business. Assess your materials by asking yourself these questions:

  • When people receive multiple impressions of your business, do they see evidence of a consistent, reliable, well-managed and successful company?
  • Do your communications look like they all represent the same company?
  • Does your business logo always look the same on all platforms?  What about your use of type styles and color?
  • If you use a tagline or slogan, is it always the same, or does it change from one presentation to another?
  • Have you thoroughly read through your website to ensure proper grammar and spelling?

If not, then it’s time to fix those messages so your business can bring people in with positive mindsets/impressions.  It won’t look good if a business seems unorganized and cluttered with different messages. It leaves a first impression that a business is unprofessional and doesn’t care. Take time to evaluate your business’s marketing to start receiving positive first impressions over the competition.

Marketing in a Time of Crisis

Smart businesses know that the current Covid-19 crisis will pass and that by laying the groundwork now to communicate effectively to customers and employees, it will pay big dividends at some point down the road.  But how can we do this efficiently and effectively? 

The first step is to create a plan.  As a marketer, you need to focus on four things:

  • Make sure that all your programs, people and technology are working well.  If you don’t have a handle on that, now is the time.  Even without the coronavirus, we’d still be heading into a new marketing environment at the end of this year when Google and others end their support of third-party cookie tracking and fundamentally changing online advertising.
  • Next, agility and flexibility are not enough.  You must also add creativity and innovation to your marketing mix.  If possible, bring together a diverse group of marketing, sales and service personnel.  Review your business and marketing objectives and assess how well you can achieve them without the set of programs you’ve been forced to eliminate.  Now look into the void and start brainstorming with your team on new ways to fill the gap.
  • During your brainstorming session, look for sparks that may trigger ideas.  Create a list of possibilities to explore.  You may need to conduct some customer interviews to flesh out the information you are working with.  Hopefully after finishing these exercises, you’ll come up with some ideas for new programs that will perhaps drive a better performance. 
  • And last, embrace this challenge with enthusiasm!  Nothing feels better than achieving and exceeding objectives.

Once you have your plan in place, begin to prioritize.

Look at what is currently running or in the pipeline.  Consider what to pivot or prioritize.  Shift dollars if necessary.

Our next step is to evaluate the language and imagery that you plan on using. There’s no question that visual communication is a powerful tool along with the words that are used.  It’s crucial to think about what type of message your brand is conveying.

Some things to look at and consider changing are:

  • removing or avoid using visuals where people or crowds are touching.
  • reframe your marketing language that may describe a close interaction with others.

Take some time to see what changes you can make that would be beneficial to the crisis at hand.  When considering your messaging to the consumer, be calm and confident.

Don’t try to capitalize on the crisis where the existing top-of-mind climate is fear and worry.  While it’s a good idea to keep people informed about how the crisis is affecting your business without spreading panic.  Your customers will see your efforts during this difficult time and thank you in the long run.  Right now, consumers are craving comfort and security.  No matter your business, you have the ability to provide this to them.

You should also take a hard look at your target audience.  With the crisis, your audience may have changed.  Are they still seeking the same benefits as pre-crisis?  Probably not.  And don’t forget to review your competitive landscape and their positioning statements.

And finally, no one knows what lies around the corner, but we can improve our chances of weathering this crisis, whether it’s created internally or externally, by having a plan in place.

Here at CPM, we are recommending dividing your plan into 3 phases:

  • The First Phase should last for the first 3 months or so. 
    In this phase, look how you might be able to adapt your products or services to ease consumers back into your company.  Concentrate on your current customers – this is an excellent time to thank them for supporting you.
  • In months 4 to 6, Phase Two would go into effect by adding elements into the first phase.  Broaden your customer base.  
  • And finally, in time for the holidays, implement a complete re-start plan for Phase Three.

In each phase, please always remember to have a clearly defined communications strategy and encourage innovation. 

Recapping this article, the key takeaways are:

  • Create a plan or audit of your current marketing efforts
  • Prioritize those marketing efforts – pause or pivot
  • Evaluate your content and visuals
  • Re-think your messaging
  • Communicate to your customers in a calm, confident manner
  • And finally, plan for now, 4 months from now and next year.

What to Expect when Building A Website

For many companies that are designing their website – for the first time or for a new, updated look — it can be easy to lose sight of who you’re designing the site for.   Whatever your reason, you need to make certain that your website design is usable, delivers information and is both visually pleasing and coherent to ensure that the user is kept engaged.

When working with CPM on your website, here’s what you should expect:

1.) Brainstorming session with CPM.  This allows everyone concerned to become aligned on the vision for your site.  We’ll discuss:

Purpose
Each page must have a clear purpose and objective.

Consistency
Users shouldn’t be confused when they come to your site.  Having a
consistent brand design and theme will help encourage conversions.

Communication  
A user comes to your site to gather information in a clear and easy to read manner.

Fonts & Color
The font, font size and colors that you use should all reflect and be consistent with the personality of your brand and company.

2. Mock-Up of Homepage (Wireframe).  Based upon our brainstorming session, our designers will mock-up the homepage.  At this stage, based upon your input, the designers will make decisions such as colors, where to put what buttons, and how the user will interact with content and how the interface might work.

3. Bi-Weekly Updates.   Your account manager will be in contact with you every other week to provide you with an update on your site.  Since the website development process can take several weeks, we will have questions/approvals along the way such as asking for photography/video approvals.  We want to make certain your site is perfect!

4. Content (Copy) Optimization.  If your audience can’t find your content, your website won’t be very successful.  CPM researches for content on each of your subjects to make certain your content is written in a way that will reach the largest possible target audience. 

5. Interior Page Development.  Once you have reviewed and approved the written content, everything is turned over to the developers to create the interior pages.

6.  Mobile Testing.  Since over 50% of website traffic comes from mobile devices, it’s important for the user experience be just as perfect on their mobile device as it is on their PC or laptop.

7. User Acceptance Testing.  The CPM team will ask you to test the usability of the site.   You might have heard this referred to as beta or end-user testing.  This is the final testing performed before your site is published.

8. Website Launch.  It’s been a long process and the day has finally arrived!  Your site is now viewable to the public.