The Pandemic’s Impact on B2B Tech
COVID-19 is a force unlike any we’ve seen in our lifetimes. We’ve never experienced something so powerful that could bring life as we knew it to a screeching halt in a matter of days.
Of course, the majority of us are experiencing this in our personal everyday lives as we stay inside our homes and forego all in-person plans for the foreseeable future. Then, there’s the economic consequences as business after business has been required to reduce operations or fully shut down.
The impact of COVID-19 varies across the B2B tech space. We've identified three groups of companies:
- A small group of companies have blown up because their solution is critical right now. It's all they can do to hold on and keep up.
- Another group of companies provides evergreen solutions. There is a need. They may need to change their messaging, but their business continues.
- The largest group is now set on pause. Until the crisis passes, they are fighting a different battle. How do you keep business alive? How do you invest your employees' time, talent, and available time for the future?
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be providing guidance and strategies for SaaS companies in each segment to help you navigate this unprecedented time.
First up, we want to share a few ways companies “on pause” can use this time to fortify their marketing infrastructure.
How to Operate at a Standstill
According to a recent Gartner survey, 65% of CMOs and marketing leaders report they’re already bracing for moderate to significant budget cuts due to coronavirus-related disruption. Additionally, the firm conducted a poll that found 34% of businesses expect reduced levels of business operations, 10% expect business to be severely restricted, and 2% will cease operations as a result of COVID-19.
If your company does not have a solution to contribute to the COVID-19 response, your marketing team likely has a lot of capacity right now. That means you’ve got an opportunity to take a step back, assess what’s working well and what needs improvement, and really fortify your marketing infrastructure so you’re positioned for success in a post-COVID world.
Fortifying your infrastructure requires involvement across team members and a refined process for auditing existing approaches and implementing changes. Consider these critical steps as you begin this process.
Step 1: Identify Your Pre-Requisites
As with any initiative, it’s critical for your marketing team to be aligned with the rest of your organization. Before you start digging into your infrastructure, get a clear view of your new company goals in light of the crisis, and dial in with your leadership team about what you want to happen when the dust settles and life goes back to “normal.”
What are your new goals in light of this crisis?
With this unified understanding, you’ll have set objectives to guide your efforts. In light of these, determine which areas make the most sense to focus on for the remainder of the pandemic.
Step 2: Evaluate Your Toolbox
Often, companies get in a rut of using the same tools and processes for too long because they don’t have the capacity to stop and examine what’s really effective. But, with your marketing efforts put on pause, you’ve now got that capacity you need to do this assessment.
There are a few areas you’ll want to evaluate that will impact your marketing strategy moving forward, including:
The Buyer MatrixSM
Do you have a clear understanding of your buyers’ needs, and have you documented them in an accessible format for your team? At Golden Spiral, we employ a proprietary process we call the Buyer Matrix to map out our clients’ top buyers, their problems, and how our clients solve for those problems. This then informs the strategies and tactics we deploy for each targeted group.
If you’ve never conducted this kind of exercise, now is the perfect time to do it. If it’s been awhile since you looked at your buyer matrix, take the time to re-evaluate it, particularly in light of the pandemic and its impact on your buyers’ problems. From there, you can identify potential holes in how you address those problems. You also may want to expand this into a general audit of your client roster to get a clear picture of the type of clients you want to pursue when you’re no longer paused.
Schedule a strategic consultation to talk through the Buyer Matrix process.
Of course, you know it’s important to keep a close eye on your competition. But, have you taken a look at the right data? For example, what are your competitors spending on paid ads? What are their monthly search volumes? How does their online presence compare to yours?
As you’re fortifying your own marketing infrastructure, use this time to perform a deep analysis of your competitors—considering their activity before and during the pandemic. Through this, you can see what they say about themselves, as well as what their customers say about them. Use this analysis to determine if you’re going toe-to-toe with them in the market or if you need to step up your marketing game.
A successful content strategy requires diversity to ensure you can expand your reach and increase online visibility. To effectively diversify, it’s important to examine the current status of your content efforts.
Do you use a range of formats (blog, social media, rich content, video, etc.) or do you lean heavily toward one? Are you covering a breadth of industry topics or does your content tend to repeat? And, have you developed an approach to reach target audiences at each stage in the buyer’s journey?
Conduct an audit to identify potential gaps in your content production and areas of opportunity. Take this time to explore new content approaches that would align with your business strategy.
As you formulate your post-COVID strategy, you’ll want to ensure your SaaS company is getting real value from the marketing technology you use. These tools may cover data analytics, marketing automation, reporting, and more. Survey your primary users about the effectiveness of the technology and take time to learn about the benefits and drawbacks.
With this information, you can determine how to invest in these resources in the future. This may mean replacing or eliminating certain tools while expanding the use of others.
Schedule a strategic consultation to discuss the implications of your data.
Step 3: Fill the Box
Once you’ve fully evaluated your marketing toolbox, you can now begin the process of filling it with the solutions you identified you need. This could look like creating a revised Q3-Q4 content calendar, vetting new marketing tools, or augmenting your Buyer Matrix with COVID-related problems.
You’ll be able to complete some of these initiatives during this pandemic downtime, while others will need to wait until business goes back to “normal.” Create a plan of action, and prioritize your next steps based on your overall business goals and top areas of opportunity.
Step 4: Remain Flexible
With so much public health and economic uncertainty before us, the only way to operate is with flexibility. The future is less predictable now than ever, and your business needs to adapt quickly to unchartered situations — more change is sure to come.
The only way to operate right now is with flexibility.
Your SaaS company’s marketing efforts in this new environment will require everyone on your team to jump in and help in new ways. This may look like cross-training team members to perform skills in adapted roles they weren’t necessarily hired for; encourage them to remain flexible throughout this process.
Additionally, you’ll want to examine the silos and structures within your organization and identify opportunities for collaboration. For example, have your marketing and sales teams work together to evaluate your CRM process or nail down definitions and handoffs for marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) and sales-qualified leads (SQLs).
Of course, you’ll be doing all of this without a physical office location at your disposal. Get creative with your remote work tools to ensure everyone has the access they need to work well together — new Slack channels, Zoom capabilities, etc. Teleworking is the new normal, so it’s time to embrace it.
The First Thing to Do after Reading this Article
Start with Step #1: identify your pre-requisites for fortifying your new marketing infrastructure. From there, you’ll have the framework you need to make the most of your time and resources during the COVID-19 crisis.