There is no denying the Coronavirus pandemic took the world by storm with little-to-no notice, disrupting the global economy in the process.
However, unlike the burst of the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s, and the subprime mortgage crisis in the late 2010s, the current economic downturn has not been caused by a structural, endogenous flaw in the financial system but, rather, by an exogenous health hazard.
That's potentially a signal that although the impact of COVID-19 on the economy is real, and we are experiencing a recession, demand could very well bounce back sooner rather than later, and faster rather than slower.
In fact, that's already the case for some parts of the digital economy, including e-commerce, SaaS, and online entertainment.
As a B2B brand, the last thing you need is to miss the rebound of the economy when it happens.
In this article, we will look into five marketing strategies you can adopt now to come out of the recession just as strong, if not better.
1. Adjust your communication
COVID-19 has an impact on many parts of the global economy: Even if your organization has not been affected by the current context, chances are at least some of your customers, partners, vendors, employees, and investors have.
In other words, you cannot afford to stand still and keep communicating as if nothing has happened.
To protect your brand image, keep in touch with your ecosystem's priorities, maintain trust, and minimize customer frustration (and, in turn, churn).
It's crucial that you update your editorial lineup: Valid topics include remote work best-practices, updates on service continuation (or disruption), contextual offers, and highlights of inspiring initiatives and positive news.
It helps to remember that in times of uncertainty everyone—including B2B buyers—has an open ear for leadership. A confident, transparent, and forward voice scores points and builds trust in the short term. That, in turn, yields dividends in the long run.
2. Train your team
Lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have not affected all professionals equally.
Some are now busier than ever because of an increase in demand for what their company makes and the hard task of juggling work responsibilities and parenting duties. Others are experiencing a lighter workload and have ended up with more time on their hands and are freed from their daily rush-hour commute.
If your team is part of the latter category, then this downtime provides you with a unique opportunity to hone skills, learn new things, and get a head start when things go back to normal.
If you have an hour a day and an Internet connection, the world is yours through online classes, podcasts, newsletters, conferences, webinars, YouTube channels, documentaries, books, and blogs. If you don't know where to start, here is a list of 80 resources curated for the occasion. Just take your pick.
3. Switch to Agile Marketing
For the past 11 years, the global economy trended "up and to the right." The pandemic has not only put an end to this historic streak but also introduced unprecedented levels of volatility on political, financial, and societal levels.
Such a context, with news cycles changing by the hour, commands higher adaptability from marketing teams to minimize "faux pas" and maximize performance. Which is where Agile Marketing comes into play.
Inspired by software development practices, Agile promotes cross-functional collaboration, data-driven decision-making, and high responsiveness to change.
Regardless of the actual methodology you choose (Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, Lean, or Hybrid), switching to Agile Marketing is a wise move, both to navigate uncertainty during this crisis and to make sure you don't miss out on the upcoming rebound.
4. Invest in long-term marketing projects
Maximizing your agility to respond to sudden changes is great; combining that with a consolidation of your brand's fundamentals is better.
Recessions traditionally lead organizations to re-evaluate priorities and focus on their true North, which may have been lost because of years of uninterrupted growth.
Now is a good time to tackle some of the long-term marketing projects that you have put aside so many times because there was always something more urgent.
Here are some that might have gone by the wayside: customer research, market analysis, brand guidelines updates, website redesign, new processes implementation, and content maintenance.
By going back to the basics during downtime, you are setting your brand up for success when the economy reopens and demand bounces back.
5. Engage and serve your community
Last but not least, you can combine all the strategies above to put your brand in service of your community. In the B2C world, we have seen many brands switch gears to manufacture masks and hydroalcoholic gel. As a B2B brand, you can assist your ecosystem by identifying their unique pain points and leveraging your unique strengths to come up with a unique solution.
For instance, at my company we recently conducted a survey with our users and customers to ask them what their main business challenge was at the moment. Brands (businesses and nonprofits) responded that they needed help to boost their online sales. Consultants (agencies and freelancers) mentioned they needed to find new clients to balance out the shrinking of their existing portfolios.
Fortunate enough to serve customers on both sides of the table—brands and consultants—we came up with the idea of helping them connect with each other to solve their respective problems.
Let's wrap up
Crises introduce sudden changes, break things, and put us to the test. Recessions also shuffle the deck and allow us to play a different hand; this one is no different, and the five B2B marketing strategies presented in this article are a good place to start to begin stacking the odds in your favor.