By Ricardo Rocha, Marketing and Communications Director
Suddenly, organizations found themselves with commercial teams confined and unable to visit their customers. Corporate events disappeared, fairs, executive lunches, among many other changes.
We've all heard, read, written about what happened in 2020 and about the impact of the pandemic, the new consumption habits, a new way of working, the hyper-acceleration of digital transformation, the reinvention of business models.
The changes were many and with a significant impact.
Also, in the way of doing business, namely in B2B, the changes were evident. Suddenly, organizations found themselves with commercial teams confined and unable to visit their customers. Corporate events disappeared, fairs, executive lunches, among many other changes. It became necessary to reinvent the commercial activity in B2B and the role of Marketing, which gained preponderance and became more valued in organizations.
A recent McKinsey & Company study – How B2B has changed during COVID-19 – in which more than 3,000 B2B decision-makers were surveyed, pinpointed precisely these changes. On the one hand, live chat is singled out as the #1 preferred channel by B2B buyers searching for suppliers. On the other hand, 65% of these buyers claim that the remote model is equal to or more efficient than the traditional supplier relationship model.
It is therefore essential to reflect on how we can take advantage of this new reality. In 2021, I identify three main aspects to take into account:
1 - Focus on customer and service excellence
It is, in a way, a catchphrase and catchphrase that many have professed for years. But, effectively, the focus on the customer, delivery excellence, and their experience with the brand gains more relevance than ever. In a 100% remote (or close) B2B relationship and transaction model, in which moments of direct interaction with customers or prospects have been reduced, it is essential to take advantage of all the "touchpoints." Investing in the speed of response, the transparency of the relationship, and the expertise of the service provided.
2 - Optimization of digital interaction channels and increment of Digital Touchpoints
In an increasingly digital relational model, it is vital to improve digital channels and explore new ones. As pointed out in the McKinsey study, the B2B shopper has adapted to this digital interaction and enjoys it.
Thus, optimizing existing channels, such as a website, an app, or eCommerce, introducing new features, rethinking the entire customer journey, increasing the customer experience could be the starting point. At the same time, looking for new interaction channels – looking at Chatbots and virtual assistants with extra attention, or exploring conversation channels like Whatsapp or Messenger, in a business aspect, can be good paths too.
3 – Innovation in Communication and Marketing formats
The big challenge is facing B2B Marketeers in these new times. How to find new ways to interact with your audiences, prospects, leads, and customers? In an era where content is king, how to efficiently deliver this content to our target? 2021 is, therefore, a year in which creativity and the ability to test and experiment with solutions are required.
Experimentation was already (or should be) one of the marketing mantras – Test, measure, test, action! – and in these new times, more than ever, it makes perfect sense to follow him. On the one hand, we are witnessing more and more the exploration of live formats – Talks, live streaming, social networks, and YouTube.
Also, the proliferation of Podcasts and the increasingly massive use of video are preferred means for disseminating content. There is, therefore, to be tested. What formats? What channels? What times? What approach? Reuse content, re-adapt it to new formats… and test, test, test!
In short, the great challenge for Marketeers for the future, regardless of what it holds for us, is, above all, the focus on content and the exploration of hybrid contact models, seeking to integrate human interaction with channels and digital interaction.
Always with the ultimate goal of B2B Marketing in mind: Be relevant!
Published (in Portuguese) in Exame.