A downturn is no time to be faint of heart. Rather, experience shows that those B2B firms that fare the best in queasy times are those that take specific initiatives, according to "The Definitive Guide to B2B Marketing in a Recession," an article on MarketingProfs.
At a time when fewer consumers have money to spend, efforts to stimulate demand—i.e., marketing—are less effective, in general; so advertisers tend to spend less, writes author Jon Miller, Marketo's VP of marketing. That applies to B2B marketers, too, he argues, because the businesses that are your clients and sell to consumers also reduce spend.
But not all is lost, he points out: Though "branding and other forms of push marketing drop in a slowdown, while direct marketing tends to rise." Also, although during the 2001 recession online marketing took a dive, it's now more mature and resilient, he says: "Today, the trend to shift advertising dollars to measurable online channels is proven and won't disappear anytime soon."
Accordingly, during the recession, measurable and relationship-based strategies—search, email, lead nurturing, and online communities—will grow stronger, he argues, because they're more efficient and effective.
So too will companies that are more efficient at turning marketing investments into revenue, since there will be less competition overall during a recession.
Given these macro-economic trends, how should you allocate your marketing budget—and time?" Miller asks. Among his suggestions:
Boost your lead-gen efforts. "Implementing even simple automated lead-nurturing programs can yield a 400% improvement in the conversion of qualified prospects into sales opportunities over time," Miller notes. "Companies that can do a better job of...developing early-stage prospects into sales-ready leads will be in the best position to thrive in a downturn."
Focus on your house list. "Activities that can help you get the most out of your existing relationships include conducting lead-nurturing campaigns, creating new content to offer to existing prospects, and cleaning and augmenting your marketing lead database with progressive profiling," he advises.
Focus your content on solid prospects. "Focus your offers on content that will appeal to someone who's actually looking for a solution," Miller says. "Examples...can include 'Top 5 Questions to Ask a Potential Vendor' whitepapers, buyers guides, and checklists, [or] analyst evaluations."
Ann Handley is an 11-year veteran of creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals. Currently, Ann is the Chief Content Officer of http://www.marketingprofs.com which provides strategic and tactical marketing know-how for marketing and business professionals through a full range of online media and live events. She also blogs at http://www.annhandley.com, her acclaimed personal web log.
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