By Sue Grant
While certain sectors of the tech market continue to be incredibly busy (i.e. health tech, data analytics, AI and security) others are challenged with significant IT projects that have been put on hold while businesses wait to see what happens on the other side.
But it is fair to say that prior to the pandemic, the B2B tech market had been relatively resilient for some time and had been showing no signs of slowing. There are positive signs that the current situation will not have the same impact as previous tech downturns, such as the dotcom crash of 2000/2001, where it took several years to recover and return to growth.
Given the industry was robust and strong before we entered this crisis, there is no reason why innovation and tech should not resume once the worst of the pandemic is over, albeit with a pivot in communications and messaging to reflect the “new normal.”
Here are some of our recommendations on navigating the current environment to position your business for success in the “new normal.”
The need for interesting stories is stronger now than ever.
From talking to reporters, though a few are now being furloughed, most titles are carrying on business as usual: it is fundamental that they keep producing interesting content for their audiences. While there is currently less opportunity to get into the national media with so many pages prioritising COVID-19, trade and specialist titles are actively looking for new material. Trade reporters have shared that they are snowed under with pitches on working from home and security challenges, so make sure the story you are pitching something new – or at minimum a new and fresh perspective. Take a look at what has already been written and take time to think about ‘what’s next,’ – what are going to be the next key issues as we evolve from the current situation. Make sure any PR stories about COVID-19 are not self-promotional, but rather how your technology is making a positive impact during these unprecedented times.
B2B marketing needs to reflect what’s happening to customers and prospects alike.
Many B2B organisations are facing new sales challenges; either because their sales have dropped off dramatically or because of a huge volume of increased demand. Using marketing to combat these problems effectively will enable businesses to look to the future, by deploying short-term sales cycle initiatives to address immediate needs, while not ignoring the long-game plans to ensure business continuity. For example, if your business is making their services free or discounted to help others survive, this should be communicated effectively.
As marketers we should position ourselves as a source of vital information. Guidance on what to do in the short-term to cope with the unusual market conditions as well as guidance on the strategy for the longer-term as we come out the other side. This is not the time to retrench from marketing.
Revisit your messaging.
Do you have a clear brand purpose? If so, then relevant, detailed messaging can evolve from that, but you must be explicitly clear to avoid stakeholder confusion. With your workforce most likely spread across the country – or the globe – it is easy for mixed messaging to slip through the cracks.
But messaging is just the first stage. Tonality is equally as important, as is empathy for all those affected. This is the time for brands to engage customers authentically to maintain trust and brand loyalty. No exaggerations, no hype, just sober, transparent facts about what is being done.
Business must continue, the more we do, the more quickly we can begin to economically recover and come out the other side. However, be sensitive to the situation, no one should be capitalising on a pandemic in an exploitive way.
In reality, the tech sector could ultimately grow as we rise to the occasion and innovate quickly to meet the needs and demands that are placed upon us by this unprecedented situation. Innovation is the mother of invention after all.
Sue Grant is a Managing Director for B2B Tech in the UK office.