As the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses are waking up to the realities of change. Customers, employees and wider stakeholders have all undoubtedly been affected by the lockdown period in one way or another. From working at home to being furloughed, through to losing leisure activities, face to face time and embracing online retail and Zoom sessions, the way we live, shop, eat, socialise and manage our finances may well have changed for good.
So what does all of this mean for businesses operating in B2B industries? After all, many of those businesses have now been shut – or seen their productivity decimated – for over three months. Legions are still just getting back to some semblance of BAU and working out how to market to their business clients in the new world.
One key trend that is emerging is a shift towards personalised, person-centric marketing in B2B circles, rather than the business focus of old. Now, the drift is towards empathy, and those B2B brands that can harness a sense of empathy and sympatico with their clients will find that their marketing efforts are successful.
This whole ‘person-centric’ model of marketing isn’t anything new of course. B2C brands have been using words such as ’empathy’, ‘engagement’, ‘relationship’, ‘trust’, and ‘understanding’ for years. These brands have learned to perfect the art of truly understanding the needs and desires of their customers and they create offers that meet the uniqueness and personal call of these drivers.
But now? Even B2B audiences want to see that emotion in the way that their brands speak to them. They want to see content that resonates with their own emotions and which shows a sense of affinity and understanding.
For many B2B firms, this tricky art of marketing against feelings will potentially be a challenge. After years of marketing on the basis of product offerings, value-adds and other physical features, this transition to emotion and feeling may feel unnatural. From a practical perspective, marketing campaigns will need to change.
Brands will need to humanise to a greater degree than ever before. Marketers will need to show that they understand their clients’ feelings after lockdown – their needs, their fears, their aspirations and their goals. They will need to empathise with the experiences that everyone has shared during Covid, and offer hope and support for the future in the form of their market offers. And all without ‘me too’ messaging.
Agile B2B brands will already be looking at ways to reframe their products and services in this new environment. New conversations need to happen around a fresh presentation. Technical product features are one thing – but how will your product or service actually help your customer? How will it make their working life easier? More enjoyable? More satisfying? How will it help them to achieve their ambitions for productivity, their hopes for a better service, their dreams of a better work-life balance? Think emotion. think context. Think benefits selling (again).
The key will lie in developing audience personas and in using content marketers who can build trust through excellent understanding and awareness of their audience needs. Transactional behaviours will no longer be the focus – emotional journeys, relationships and trust with brands will become the new battleground for brand loyalty.
For most B2B firms, this will mandate a rapid acquisition of the necessary B2C marketing skillets and digital capabilities. Why not contact RC&A to see how we can help you to secure the right senior digital talent to meet these new B2B marketing challenges – before your competitors!
Central London (WFH), £300 p/d. Initial 3-6mth contract. Expected to roll.
Central London (WFH), £70k
Central London (WFH), £80k + Bens
Central London (WFH), to £35k + Excellent Bens. (Freelance £250 p/d).
Central London, £45k + Excellent Bens - 6 mth FTC (expected to roll to Perm)
Central London, DOE