How to do B2B Marketing in the Midst of COVID-19


Aurelien Mottier
Reading Time: 3 minutes



How to do B2B Marketing in the Midst of COVID-19

Aurelien Mottier

CEO at Operatix

Robin Emiliani

Co-founder & Partner at Catalyst Marketing

This blog post is based on an episode from The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast. You can listen to the full episode here.

We’re all getting a little fed up with COVID-19 by now, but we need to adapt to the new realities the pandemic has imposed on us in the B2B marketing space.

No one knows when things will go back to normal, and in the marketing business we can’t wait for that to happen, anyway. We have to go the extra mile now and help businesses keep pressing forward in the face of these challenges.

In this episode, we interview Robin Emiliani, one of the co-founders and partners at Catalyst Marketing Agency, about how to do B2B marketing in the midst of COVID-19. 

Catalyst is a full service marketing agency that specializes in B2B tech. The company does lots of campaign creation, strategy, content development, and lots of digital advertising for its clients. Those clients, by the way, include big names such as Adobe and Microsoft, Intel, Arrow Electronics, and a couple more you might know.

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Some of those things have scaled back significantly during this time. They’re going to come roaring back. So be prepared for that. Plan for that now. Be ready to ramp your ABM campaigns back up because that’s gonna be critical.

Robin Emiliani – Co-founder & Partner at Catalyst Marketing

Facing the changes from COVID-19

The most obvious major change COVID-19 brought to B2B marketing is around messaging. 

Marketers have this terrible fear of sounding tone deaf during these emotional times. That’s a legitimate fear. We’ve probably all gotten that email in the last couple of weeks. It felt like a complete turn off because it didn’t strike the right tone or the messaging just felt off. 

“But what we’re finding that’s really fascinating to me,” Robin said, “is this shift to right brain messaging.” 

Here’s the context for that statement: in the last couple years, B2B advertising has largely appealed to the left brain, providing black-and-white messaging focused on features and benefits. But that’s not the messaging that resonates. Right brain messaging is more empathetic. It strikes a human connection. It can use irony, metaphors, or even humor. 

Imagine a B2B brand using humor!

That shouldn’t seem so improbable. To get ahead of the curve, brands are going to need to embrace a new way of messaging.

Don’t stop marketing.

Harvard Business Review looked at the last recession and asked, “What were the attributes and behaviors common in the companies that thrived?” 

They found that the companies that didn’t make drastic cuts were the ones that actually fared better. So if you make too many cuts, you’re less likely to survive later. 

The thriving companies also continued to invest in marketing and research and development. Right now, there is an increasing emphasis on digital marketing.

“We are really helping our clients double down on media and digital advertising spends because everyone’s on their computers now,” Robin told us. “These social channels, I mean, they’re experiencing record usage because we’re all sitting in front of our computers.”

And as B2B companies marketing during COVID-19, we have got to show up where our customers are. 

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This is really a time to flex your creative muscle because that’s what’s going to resonate with your audience – more interactive, more interesting, more engaging types of content.

Robin Emiliani – Co-founder & Partner at Catalyst Marketing

Shift to virtual events

The transformation from in-person to virtual events happened almost overnight. Some of the companies hosting these shows or exhibiting at them are doing really well. But some are not. Couple recommendations for everyone doing event-based B2B marketing during COVID-19:

  1. If you’re putting on a virtual event, do as much as you can as early as you can. Right now, people are really forgiving. So being polished and perfect is getting replaced by being good enough. Everyone’s got their kids in the background and noises from home. It’s okay. Just do it.
  2. For exhibitors: Yes, you can run a digital booth with digital graphics and videos! Robin tried it, and she said, “One of the cool things about it was the engagement that we had and the number of leads that we drove. What we found was with our online chat, the shy people are more apt to have conversations with you.”

Prepare to ramp back up

Best advice for B2B marketers during COVID-19? Keep your momentum. 

Some things are waning right now. Account based marketing (ABM) for one. Also direct mail and intent data, which is heavily reliant on IP addresses of corporations.

Just because those things have scaled back significantly during this time, though, doesn’t mean they’re gone. They’re going to come roaring back. So be ready to ramp your ABM campaigns back up. Prepare to talk to people in a more authentic and human way. Focus less on benefits and features and more on the person standing in front of you.

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As marketers and as B2B Companies, we have got to show up where our customers are. And since everyone’s on their computer, digital has really increased in the last couple of weeks.

Robin Emiliani – Co-founder & Partner at Catalyst Marketing

The #1 thing you need to do for your business during a crisis

Build relationships. 

It may be difficult for salespeople to collect freshly printed purchase orders from their clients, but the conversation still goes on. And the top of the funnel is absolutely key.

So make your investments now. They’ll bear fruit as soon as people adapt to new norms and the end of lockdowns starts to appear. And that’s something we can all look forward to!

Connect with Robin to learn about her or her company on LinkedIn.

To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or our website.

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About Operatix

Operatix is a Sales Acceleration company specialized in supporting B2B Software vendors to identify new revenue streams, increase qualified sales pipeline, and accelerate channel development across Europe and North America. Operatix has a wealth of experience in working with the biggest tech players worldwide as well as a multitude of emerging software vendors.

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