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

Author:

Aurelien Mottier
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Episode

75

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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Channel Transformation

Digital transformation is changing how companies buy and use business solutions, making vendors re-assess the capabilities of their channel ecosystem. With channel dynamics in constant flux, vendors need to be ready to cut ties with partners that don’t share their vision or have connections with the right B2B buyers.

 

Operatix has supported numerous vendors in their path to Channel transformation by assessing current partners and recruiting new partners that are more aligned with their new channel strategy. Once the right partners have been identified, Operatix built scalable outbound sales development programs that accelerated their routes to market.

Inbound Response Management

In a competitive industry like technology every lead counts. Operatix can help you maximize conversion from MQL to SQL and from lead to pipeline, increasing both your revenue and ROI on marketing activities.

Account Identification

Identifying the accounts that are more likely to buy from you is part of our expertise. We will research the market, identify verticals and industries that can benefit from your solution and set up qualified sales engagements for your teams to kick-off the sales process. 

Cold Prospecting

Our team will identify new sales opportunities within the strategic accounts that you haven’t been successful in penetrating through your sales & marketing efforts. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, multitouch approach to connect with prospects, generating qualified sales engagements for your team and ultimately increasing your pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Partner Concierge Service

Our Partner Concierge Service helps vendors accelerate their channel programs, by engaging and nurturing channel partners and supporting them to get to revenue quicker.

Demand Generation

Whether you need to implement a demand generation strategy or get more results out of your existing demand gen engine, Operatix can work alongside your marketing team to yield better results out of your demand generation programs.

Account-based Marketing

An Account-based Marketing strategy is only as successful as the revenue it generates. At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Lead Qualification

If your marketing leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help sieve through leads that need further qualification, so they are ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with.

Account-based Selling

At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Pipeline Generation

Generating Pipeline for our clients is our key-objective. And we do that by using a multi-touch, multi-channel approach to generate qualified sales engagements for our customers’ sales teams.   

Account Intelligence / Deep Dive

Understanding buying centres, hierarchies and relevant personas in strategic accounts is a fundamental step to increase conversion rates. By leveraging account intelligence in a sales conversation your team can tailor their message and provide value to their prospective customer. But sales & marketing teams often struggle to dedicate time and resources to do the deep research and this is where Operatix can help.

DMID – Decision Maker Identification

Finding quality data is an on-going challenge for B2B Tech vendors. The accuracy of data platforms is questionable and that is why Operatix developed a manual process to identify & verify contact details for decision makers within strategic target accounts.

Playbook design

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to get your messaging right, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapt the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

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Sales Playbook Development

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to implementing the correct messaging, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapting the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

Lead Qualification

If your leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help filter through leads that need further qualification, ensuring that they’re ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with and progress through the funnel. 

Partner Portal / Marketing Concierge Service

Vendors often spend thousands of dollars building multifunctional Partner Portals to help channel partners educate their teams, manage opportunities, and create marketing programs. Still, these portals are often underutilized due to lack of bandwidth and capacity from vendors to offer support in enabling their partner community. Operatix, through their Partner Development team, can support your partners to make the best use out of your partner portal, managing the relationship with your partners and helping them set up co-marketing campaigns to drive more revenue for both businesses. 

Marketing & Sales Alignment

The sales development function is often seen as the “glue” that brings sales & marketing teams together. By working as an extension of your teams, Operatix will be your predictable source of pipeline, sales & revenue.

Optimization of MDF

Market Development Funds are an important component of any channel ecosystem, though vendors believe they are not maximizing the return on investment they should be getting from their MDF programs. At Operatix, we build scalable outbound sales development programs that will give you the visibility of return over the invested spend and will provide clear value for your channel partners.

Increase Partner Productivity

The 80/20 rule is still very applicable to the channel, which means that investing in partner productivity should be a priority for vendors looking to grow their businesses. Operatix can increase partner productivity and shorten sales cycles, by identifying ready to engage sales opportunities for your most valued channel partners.

Virtual Channel Account managers

Our VCAM team is responsible for building, maintaining, and managing sound relationships with current and prospective channel partners. They can get involved in opening up new sales conversations as well as closing small businesses up to $ 10k.

Tier 1 & Tier 2 Activation

Whether your business decided for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 distribution model, Operatix can help your channel partners get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements to your channel partners we can accelerate your route to market with tangible and easily measurable results.

Solution Selling Training

Far too often vendors insist on enabling their channel partners to talk about features and technical details of their solutions. Customers don’t buy features; they buy the benefits your solution can bring. Operatix will work with your partner community to train them in articulating your message from a high-level business perspective, enabling them to talk to prospects about the value your solution can bring to their company from a board-level perspective.

Channel Enablement

Enabling your channel partners have measurable wins for your business when done right. Operatix has a proven track record in enabling channel partners from a sales & marketing perspective, providing them the knowledge and tools to successfully pitch your solution and sell the value & benefits of it. 

Partner Recruitment

Recruiting the right Channel Partners is the first step for a successful channel program. Operatix has helped over 350 B2B Software vendors recruit suitable channel partners across EMEA and North America, supporting them to scale and expand their presence in different geographies and verticals. 

Risk/Reward Business Model

To truly work as an extension of our client’s sales & marketing teams, we have also adapted our business models to show how our clients operate, and how their success is measured. With our risk/reward business model your investment is proportional to the results our team delivers.

Sales Qualified Leads

On average, 52.5% of the sales engagements set up by our team progress into a next step in the sale process. That means that 5 out of 10 meetings will progress either into a POC, a Demo or a pipeline opportunity.

Geographical Scale

Trading in different geographical markets not only requires a knowledge of the native language, local rules & policies, but a deeper understanding of the local culture and habits. We have the ability to deliver campaigns in multiple countries with flexible resource allocation. This is through our team of international speakers, who have the ability to sell in 17 different languages across the globe.

Increase Revenue & Decrease Cost

Building an internal sales development team comes with many additional costs and challenges that aren’t always taken into account: recruiting resources, training and enabling them etc. You also need to take into account the need for having the data and tools to make them successful, which in turn requires time, capital and effort. By outsourcing your sales development to Operatix you will see your revenue increasing, while decreasing costs and business risk.

Predictable Pipeline Generation

On average, our clients see a 26X ROI on the programs we deliver. By understanding your revenue targets and sales pipeline gap, we will work on a sales & marketing plan that will deliver tangible results.

Vertical Growth

Entering new industries or launching new product lines? Operatix can accelerate your growth by supporting your go-to-market strategy, and getting your sales teams in front of decision makers in key target accounts.

Reduce Headcount

By outsourcing your sales development and partner programs to Operatix; we reduce headcount and the challenges that come with managing people, technologies, and processes. We take care of your sales development, so you can focus on what matters the most: growing your business.

Revenue Acceleration

Operatix helps your business get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements for your direct sales team (to kick-off new sales cycles), or by accelerating the growth of your channel partners, our focus remains on delivering tangible results for your business. 

Persona-based Selling

Operatix team will design specifically tailored messages to influence the different levels of decision makers in the sales process, tailoring the communication according to each job function. Our focus is to sell the value of your solution from a business perspective, not its features.    

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