Stay Connected by Shifting the Context of Content and Email

by Ardath Albee, on Apr, 16, 2020

Stay Connected By Shifting Context

Unless you are an essential business that has coronavirus-related information we need to know about, you’ve probably said your piece.  It’s time to get back to creating B2B content and email to help sellers provide thoughtful information that moves buyers and customers forward. Help them consider new, workable options in the near term and build confidence that they’ll be ready to amp their businesses up when we get past this.

It’s likely many of your buyers and customers are hunkering down, avoiding anything that isn’t a project in progress. They may even be delaying those. But business must go on. The alternative is shutting our doors and ceasing to exist. That’s just not tenable—for companies or employees.

The Marketing Opportunity

Marketers have an opportunity to step up and help our companies serve, solidify our reputations, and strengthen our relationships with both customers and potential customers. But we need to think carefully about how we do so.

Many of us are getting pressure from our companies to continue to sell. Just because we can send email doesn’t mean that sending more is the answer to getting attention. Adding to the noise is just screaming louder. That’s irritating to everyone. Yet it’s what I see happening with a lot of companies’ marketing and sales outreach.

The best course of action is to restrain yourself and rethink your approach. Create high-value content that helps calm your buyers’ and customers’ fears because you’ve offered useful information they can put into action. Your ability to remain calm and in control—and help—will shine through and elevate your value to buyers and customers.

The more relevant your messaging, the more opportunities will open. Many businesses are experiencing challenges they’ve not encountered before. Including yours. We all need new perspectives and ideas to help us persevere. To be helpful during this time, you need to reconsider your buyer’s situation.

B2B Buyer Alignment Changes to Consider

Buyers Before were focused on:
  • Pursuing growth
  • Long-term plays
  • Taking calculated risks to reach goals
  • Business as usual
  • Investing to reach new objectives
Buyers now may be focused on:
  • Maintaining status quo (survival)
  • Short term outcomes
  • Finding safety, minimizing fallout
  • Rethinking business models
  • Operational efficiency

You will need to revise your existing content with these changes in mind. Reframe your great ideas to address today’s needs and concerns. Make sure it’s helpful guidance, rather than attempting to orchestrate a transaction.

If your content has been overly focused on your products and services, now is a great time to shift, addressing what your customers care about in this uncertain time. Help them think through a problem. Give them advice they can use today—without buying anything. None of us have experience with a pandemic to draw from.

Get creative and help your audience find new ways of thinking and optimistic ideas that energize them to move forward. They’ll remember you favorably and turn to you first when truly solving the problem becomes viable.

B2B Seller Changes to Consider

Content is the path to currency. Your sellers need it even more today than they did when meeting face-to-face. Marketers have an opportunity to provide content that helps sellers reposition the conversations they have with both buyers and customers. Your sales team’s circumstances have also shifted.

Sellers Before were focused on:
  • Face-to-face meetings
  • Growth in net-new pipeline
  • Net New Business
  • Competitive advantage

Sellers now must focus on:

  • Remote selling
  • Pivoting to buyers who can do business now
  • Account expansion
  • Rethinking sales, go-to-market

This doesn’t mean that net new business isn’t happening. If your products and services can help your customers execute against revamped business models, doing business may even be more urgent for your buyers. But for those of us facing buyers who are hunkering down, the best route may be helping our existing customers gain even more value from our products they’re already using.

Most marketers create more content for top of funnel than any other stage of the customer lifecycle. It’s time to rethink that approach. By creating content that helps get your sales team in more conversations with both buyers and existing customers, marketers can help sellers continue to produce outcomes that keep your company in business.

Empathy Must Be Felt—Not Just Said

Empathy is critical. But fake empathy is disappointingly obvious. You know what I mean. The emails that start off with “I hope you are doing well and staying safe during these trying times.” And then the next sentence starts the sales pitch or the product dump.

Empathy should never be a platitude. It’s a state of being. When the way you present your ideas matches the context of the situation, empathy shines through. Acknowledge that the ideas you’re presenting may feel uncomfortable. Tell your audience why they’re worth considering—even now. If you pay attention to the shifts noted above—or even better, the shifts you’ve identified for your specific audience—you’ll come across as caring, not self-serving.

This is the time for marketers to listen to sales calls. To ask sales teams what they’re hearing from buyers and customers. You should be doing this already. If you’re not, start. Don’t imagine you know what your buyers and customers are going through. Your situation is not theirs. For empathy to be felt, it needs to come from a place of truth.

Make Buyers and Customers Heroes

Trying times require heroic, empathetic actions. Think of your new content initiatives as Hero campaigns and set out to make buyers and customers heroes to their companies because you’re helping them bring value and act based on the insights you’ve provided.

This won’t go unnoticed. Your credibility will escalate. When others are either too afraid to reach out, fearing they’ll say the wrong thing, they’ll remember you. When other companies panic and let desperation drive their marketing and selling to scream louder, your calm and contextual approach will be a welcome addition to their inbox, their social streams, or their next Zoom meeting.

The opportunity to do business still exists. It may just look different.

One thing I know is screaming louder won’t help. Thoughtfulness and grace are the way forward.

Topics:Content ManagementBuyer AlignmentBuyer ConversationsMarketing & Sales Alignment

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