They say “crisis” also means “opportunity.” That can be hard to appreciate when the crisis is overwhelming, and people’s lives and livelihoods are threatened. So first, we at Publitek hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and taking all appropriate measures to avoid the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, many of us in tech B2B marketing carry on: making the best of improvised workspace, adapting to online meetings, sharing internet bandwidth with family and housemates, and wondering how long it will go on. We’d like to share five suggestions with our fellow tech B2B marketers about how to make the most of the situation—and find opportunities to emerge even more effective when the crisis passes. Some suggestions include anecdotes from our work with tech B2B clients— contact Simon Flatt in our UK office or Kerry McClenahan in our North American office if you’d like to hear more about any of them.
1. Reach out to the media
As we experience a constant stream of COVID-19 news, it can be hard to imagine that anything else is important to the media. Yet our fellow travelers in tech B2B media need to keep covering the technologies and news that matters to engineers and technologists. They, like all of us, can no longer rely on live events to prompt news releases and press meetings. Journalists need to write stories, so we need to continue to help them know what’s happening.
Many journalists plan their editorial calendars around major events, and may simply move ahead with those stories when those events are canceled. Here’s how the editors at Microwave Journal handled news coverage around Mobile World Congress after that event was canceled: What You Would Have Seen at MWC 2020. If you planned to pitch Microwave Journal before MWC, we hope you did so!
At Publitek, we’ve been encouraging our clients to switch to virtual briefings wherever possible. In many cases, we’ve helped clients schedule for briefings at events, only to find the events are canceled. For one company, we had scheduled several analyst briefings at Open Compute Platform Global Summit. With quick rescheduling after the summit was canceled, we were able to complete all but one of them virtually, in the same timeframe.
Our tech B2B audiences are working at home, just as we are, and more dependent on digital content and media than ever. That has created an opportunity for our media partners. We’ve heard that industrywide, website traffic has increased 10%—with one B2B publisher telling us that traffic has increased 30% week-over-week during March. They need our help in meeting the increasing demand for informative content.
2. Step up digital marketing activities
Studies in the past have shown that vendor websites are a top information resource for engineers. With events canceled and face-to-face meetings unlikely, the case for increased digital marketing is clear: the time is now to double down on producing the kind of content that your customers need to make decisions and execute projects. For one client, Publitek poured over transcripts from recent video shoots to create a set of 21 blog post abstracts and outlines, based on the topic areas assigned to different executives. This collection will be invaluable for keeping a steady cadence of digital content across several web-based and social media programs for the next few months.
Many companies are looking to ramp up webinar activities, and for good reason: with useful information and an engaging presenter, they are well known for increasing awareness and generating leads. We expect many webinars to be coming to the market, so competition for attendees will be fierce. Make sure to focus on compelling topics and notable speakers—simply reprising a sales presentation will not be good enough.
The challenge for many companies is promoting their webinars widely enough to reach a target number of registrants and attendees. Some publications bundle media services with webinar capabilities, but these are often somewhat expensive, and publications place restrictions on how companies can “own” the resulting contact data. Publitek has put together a webinar package that, when coupled with our extensive experience in direct marketing and advertising, provides you with a GDPR compliant alternative that can focus directly on your audience and data needs. And we can help you create an exciting new presentation!
3. Tune up your lead gen machine
Another area to focus on is your lead database. This is an appropriate time to look at the quality of your contact lists, how frequently you contact them, and what new content can help you keep them engaged and moving down the prospect funnel. With face-to-face meetings restricted, for now, your sales team will appreciate getting more, higher quality leads to virtually call on.
Like all digital marketing, lead generation depends on high-quality content. At this time, your customers are especially in need of helpful content delivered in a suitably sensitive tone. To optimize performance, make sure you are investing in an appropriate range of assets: white papers, case studies, videos, how-to guides, infographics etc.
Publitek also has experience working with a variety of CRM and email marketing platforms, so let us know if you’d like any help. We recently helped one client adopt a new email marketing platform to send its monthly emails to its lead database, instead of using the built-in email tools within its CRM platform. We’re already seeing higher open rates, and we have access to more in-depth performance monitoring from the email marketing platform.
Another tactic that Publitek helps its clients execute are online surveys. Our home-based tech B2B audiences are more disposed to interact with surveys, especially if they are incentivized with coupons for e-commerce platforms.
4. Develop best practices for effective online meetings
We’re all spending more time in online meetings, and finding their strengths and weaknesses. At Publitek, we are making extensive use of virtual communications using Slack, Zoom and Google Hangouts, depending on the needs of the client and the meeting. We’re finding a number of practices that help make all of them better tools for staying on task, such as:
- Mute your microphone when you are not speaking. On Zoom, you can press and hold the spacebar to unmute yourself temporarily.
- Use the video camera when your bandwidth permits, to help keep people-to-people connections.
- Turn off the camera when you need to step away, so other attendees know you are unavailable but coming back.
- Avoid having bright windows and lights behind you.
- Welcome the small distractions such as pets and children; they are part of our new reality today and a relief from the stress of working through a time of crisis.
There are lots of resources for using online meeting platforms, and here are a few to get you started:
- 4 Tips for effective online meetings from Fast Company
- The Zoom support website has articles on Joining & Starting Zoom Meetings
- Slack Tips has articles on starting video calls and sharing screens
- How to host more effective Google Hangout meetings
5. Share feelings, concerns and hopes with co-workers, clients and others
Finally, but this is foremost, take the time at the beginning or end of meetings to check in with your staff and your clients. Social distancing and online meetings are necessary to slow the spread of coronavirus, but they compel us to make a conscious effort to maintain strong connections and communications. Personal anecdotes and humorous observations can help us all deal with the stress, and work together more effectively during—AND AFTER—the COVID-19 crisis.
On that note, here’s a final anecdote from one of our account directors: in communicating with trade editors, she has almost always added: “I hope this email finds you well.” Over the last month, she has emphasized her genuine wishes that each one is safe and coping well in the ‘new normal.’ She has received responses from many, leading to deeper conversations with some that will build long-term trust. In fact, she has scheduled a virtual “happy hour” with one journalist to enjoy a glass of wine and re-connect.
Cheers to that!