It is no surprise that COVID-19 has drastically changed the landscape for B2B marketing and sales, but just how many of these changes will stick around for the long term is still to be seen. If there is one change that will remain after the recovery and have a major impact on how B2B marketers conduct their strategies, it is the culture of working remotely.
Global Workplace Analytics claims that more than half (56%) of the U.S. workforce holds a job that is compatible with remote work. According to GWA President Kate Lister, the best estimate is that 25% to 30% of the workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021. With companies such as Facebook, Google, Capital One, Amazon, Microsoft and Zillow setting the stage for remote work, there will be many other businesses that follow.
With this transition, it also means that B2B buyers are going to behave differently. B2B marketers need to be thinking about how to evolve their ABM strategies when dealing with a remote audience, how to make room for field teams in digital and, internally, how to make sure remote teams have proper access and training to deal with data outside the office.
In this eWEEK Data Points article, Marc Stewart, B2B supervisor at PMG, offers a set of best practices for marketing managers to follow.
Data Point No. 1: No time better than now to revisit your ABM strategy.
The two areas that will be disrupted the most are your target accounts list and the buying behavior. First, you must rethink your approach to your ideal customer profile. This needs to be led by a mindset that the market has been shaken up over the last few months and businesses are trying to keep up. Take a step back and create a target account strategy that prioritizes companies and industries that might be more in need of your software compared with companies that might be dialing back budgets or cutting departments due to the negative impacts of COVID-19.
According to a recent research report from LeadMD, more than 50% of companies are currently considering a purchase for their business, even in the midst of COVID-19.
Data Point No. 2: Consider reproducing live offerings for on-demand usage.
Now more than ever, we need to be putting the customer first in our marketing outreach. Everyone’s life has been drastically altered, and a prospect’s consumption habits are no different. The idea of self-service content and channels will become even more prominent as remote work leads to a schedule that’s not strictly 9-to-5. This might mean reproducing live offerings and demos for on-demand formats so users can control when and where they are consuming content.
Data Point No. 3: Field teams will need to lean on digital to make up for leads lost from in-person events.
In-person events typically make up a large portion of leads for B2B companies. In our current environment, however, teams are going to have to come together and get creative on how to supplement the loss of leads generated from in-person events—not only in terms of the number of leads but also the quality. Digital will become an even more important contributor to reaching your overall goals. A recent survey from McKinsey indicated that companies think digital interactions will be twice as important as they were before. (See image at top; to view a larger version, right-click on it and select "View Image.")
Data Point No. 4: Virtual events will continue to be prominent.
Virtual events have burst onto the scene since the beginning of the pandemic and, while in-person events will likely return sometime next year, virtual events will maintain some place in B2B marketers’ strategies. Virtual events can provide large quantities of leads as well as more personalized experiences and higher-value conversations that content just can’t.
Data Point No. 5: Digital teams need to be even closer to each other and their data.
While this has probably been a priority for you and your team over the years, it should now be one of your top priorities by establishing a system that is both informational and accessible to everyone on the team. As you lose your face-to-face meetings, war room gatherings and on-site access to data, the potential for something to fall through the cracks greatly increases. The teams that can over-communicate at each step of the journey and create standardized, replicable, and scalable processes will be the ones that set themselves apart from competitors post-COVID-19.
Data Point No. 6: In summary …
Remember that marketing is an investment in the future, and the work that is being put in now will yield returns in the months and years to come. By revisiting your target accounts, incorporating new content types and virtual events, and becoming even closer to your sales and marketing teams, you will better position yourself for success during and after the pandemic.
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