How B2B marketers are adapting to the recession

April 23, 2020

History has shown us that in times of economic downturn, successful businesses are those that not only make careful cuts, but wise investments. The thing is, we’re not just grappling with the uncertainties of a recession – this is also a period of fundamental transformation. As businesses begin to plan their next steps after the crisis, it’s clear that there’s a long road ahead of us. But where do we go from here? 

We’ve been talking with many different B2B companies who are navigating these current challenges and looking for new ways to survive today – and thrive tomorrow. There’s no such thing as a single silver-bullet strategy, least of all in the uncertainty of this current crisis. But the one thing these approaches all have in common? A deep understanding of customers’ rapidly changing situations and needs.

Laying the foundation: understanding your customer

As the adage goes, companies don’t buy products or services – they buy solutions to their problems. Winning B2B brands understand their customers’ needs, and stay aware of how these are changing. We’ve talked before about using this time to ensure your brand is customer-aligned. These customer insights also provide an invaluable foundation for wise investment decisions for marketing and sales.

Look at your market segments and understand how the current situation affects each segment and decision-maker differently. Examine exactly what is at stake for your customers and other stakeholders. All will have urgent, rapidly evolving needs that you should fully understand, prioritize and act upon in both the short- and long-term.

Matching your core competencies to new needs  

The effects of the pandemic have been wide-spread, and we’ve heard from many B2B companies who’ve had their core business activities put on hold. But we’ve also heard from companies adapting to these effects. These businesses have been closely examining how the current situation has affected the overall competitive landscape and individual market segments. In doing so, they’ve found new opportunities with existing customers, and even opportunities beyond their core customers and core segments, to fill up their pipeline for the remaining part of the year.

If you’re looking to apply your current competencies into new offerings, remember you need to adapt your messaging to talk directly to these different pains and needs. Don’t expect your audience to join the dots themselves – make your value explicit. Digitize your communications and tools to reach emerging opportunities more effectively and work closely with your sales team to capture the momentum created.

Getting back up to speed – faster

We’ve also talked to companies drilling down into the challenges of their core customers, to focus on what help they’ll need to recover from the global crisis. In the engineering industry for example, customers could not only lose 3-4 months from their development processes, but could also be facing reduced budgets and workforces on top of this. In these cases, engineering companies are investing their marketing budgets to show customers how they can make up for lost time and lost labour.

Now more than ever, the focus needs to be on your customer and their needs, not your products or services. Share relevant and valuable knowledge that can show your customers that you understand their situation and are here to help. Not everyone will be in a position to buy from you today, but engaging with these potential customers is far from wasted effort. You’ll also be strengthening your brand position while building trust and leads for the future.

Adapting to the new normal

It may seem like the distant future, but now is also the time to look further ahead to when the situation stabilises – just not as we know it. In response to the pandemic, many companies are already reconsidering their global sourcing strategies. Instead of single major suppliers, they may be looking towards a model of multiple regional suppliers. There’s also a general consensus among our clients that the pandemic will change global sales for the long-term. They’re expecting to travel less and engage more with their markets online.

This isn’t just about adapting your own business to the new normal. It’s about how you can help your customers adapt, too. You can be a thought leader, setting the direction in your industry and generating future sales. But you need to start preparing now to get ahead.

Are you ready?

Not all brands will grow in the period to come. But the ones who grow in a recession tend to consolidate those gains afterwards. Brands that survive a recession may emerge with fewer competitors, a more loyal base of customers or even a new purpose. If you understand the changes in your markets, stay tuned with your customers and play your cards wisely, you could come out on top.

If you’d like to discuss your situation and your options in more detail, you can call or drop Managing Partner Ralph Krøyer a line on +45 35 25 01 75 or at rk@cbc.dk.

 

Topics: News