A laptop on a glass table with marketing data graphs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly created a huge upset in the world of business, and all aspects of it. Many huge trade events are being cancelled, and it’s not certain when conferences will be organized again. The Mobile World Congress was the first worldwide trade event to be canceled, and others soon followed suit.

And networking opportunities for industry professionals are far from being the only thing lost here. A lot of money from marketing budgets across all kinds of industries has gone down the drain. Plus, with the consumption of almost all products going down the drain – we can surmise that overall marketing budgets will be significantly smaller in the coming quarters. So, how will this impact business to business marketing? We’re here to give you the latest details on the B2B developments!

The Good News

In the coming days and months, you’ll hear a lot of different and often conflicting coronavirus updates, especially regarding its influence on the economy. However, when it comes to B2B during the COVID-19 era, we’ll give you the good news first – this isn’t like the last world economic crisis. Let’s take a step back, and remember what happened to marketing budgets back then. With the global uncertainty stemming from the mortgage crisis, most B2B firms made severe cuts to marketing departments.

However, this isn’t the case nowadays. More than a decade later, and the reaction to another crisis in the making was not to pull the rug from underneath B2B marketing efforts. Instead, businesses have found that investing more in digital marketing presents a far more cost-effective opportunity.

In hindsight, this makes a lot of sense. Traditional marketing efforts remain either too expensive in the current climate, or out of the question due to the restrictions on face-to-face interactions worldwide. Thus, a shift towards a more digital strategy for lead generation was pretty much inevitable.

This is a trend that originated in the public sector – with huge financial institutions of worldwide importance like the IMF and the World Bank officially cutting personal meetings and going online. It took only a short while for the private sector to follow.

In B2C marketing, this isn’t such a huge blow. But the largest part of B2B marketing relies on trade shows and personal networking. Luckily, the temporary disappearance of these does not mean slashes to B2B budgets; but rather a bigger chunk of resources being devoted to online marketing. Businesses have realized that a well-designed website can help immensely even when it comes to B2B marketing, and they’re acting accordingly.

Lost Resources

Of course, the fact that the B2B marketing industry adjusted well to the recent developments doesn’t mean that a lot of money has not gone down the drain in the midst of the crisis. For instance, some indicators suggest that February was the worst month in this regard; there were more postponements and cancellations of industry events than ever before.

In fact, more than 220 events that were considered to be high-impact for B2B have been cancelled in February; the figures for march haven’t been gathered conclusively as of yet, but they’re expected to be comparably bad. All in all, the complete expenses related to the cancellations are expected to be in the range of billions of dollars.

This is bad because it makes up a significant portion of B2B marketing budgets. Certain estimates show that about 40% of marketing budgets in this field are used for industry shows and similar exhibitions; while less than 10% goes to digital marketing. However, with the pandemic developments that have caused huge upsets – all of this is poised to change.

Digital Marketing Benefits

Of course, many people believe that these changes are nothing more than short-term upsets that will go away once the coronavirus situation settles down. However, there are multiple reasons why this may not be the case. Primarily, because health safety isn’t the only advantage of online B2B marketing versus physical trade shows. Apart from the fact that you don’t need any physical interaction when you’ve got online marketing platforms; these are also far more measurable than live venues.

In other words, measuring the return on investment after spending a lot of money on a trade show is not easy, as it heavily depends on personal interactions. However, all online activities are easily recordable and very efficiently analyzed. And not to mention the fact that an SEO-friendly content-management system can do a lot for lead generation even in a B2B marketing environment.

This is why all B2B marketers would do well not to rest on their laurels, and start looking at online marketing tactics. Redefining their usual schtick for an online platform is a good idea; this is an avenue of B2B marketing that could be here to stay after the pandemic as well.

Assuming that many marketers will have some extra free time, especially those who will have to go into home isolation, they are advised to use it to review their online marketing strategy and redefine their marketing messages.

Redefined Marketing Strategy

With all of this in mind, it might not be a bad idea to take another look at your company’s marketing strategy and visibility-raising tactics; some adjustments may be needed for online B2B work. For instance:

  • Articles and press releases – Working on quality website content is important, so think about informational topics for your clients and the media;
  • Promotional materials: Make sure you have brochures and presentations in a digital-friendly and professional-looking format as well.
  • Social media – Regardless of the pandemic, it’s 2020 – and social media is becoming important even in B2B marketing. Use these platforms to extend the reach of your professional articles, case studies, etc.

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