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The changing face of Tech Marketing in Covid-19

Published 1st April 2020

What seems like a lifetime ago, but was in fact just a week, I posted in a Linkedin group for B2B Tech marketers saying “ Interested to hear how Marketing Managers and Directors are redrawing their strategy in the light of the current situation. My Q2 strategy was centred largely around events, speaking and networking – none of which are now possible so I’m creating a new plan to turn our current situation into a positive for my business. What strategies are you implementing to make sure you are adding value to your business?”

Having just returned from exhibiting at Cloud Expo at ExCeL the week before , I had gone from large scale event networking to transitioning our teams overnight to home working. I was looking forward to a busy quarter of running our own events, tours of our data centre, speaking opportunities and panel discussions for the senior team and generally getting Amito out there, front and centre. But a week ago I looked at my strategy, put it to one side and started to draw up a new plan.

So far we’ve seen a race to ‘go virtual’ – numerous webinars, and zoom or teams networking meetings; and I’ve heard many conflicting opinions – ‘don’t do webinars, people will get webinar fatigue’; ‘don’t create content – no one is going to be reading it right now’; ‘don’t do email marketing – no one wants to engage at the moment’.

But right from the off, one thing felt very clear to me – we need to continue to be visible, vocal and above all else, valuable. And yes I love a bit of alliteration. So here are a few thoughts from me on what B2B tech marketing could look like in these strange times:

–       DON’T just push harder on the marketing messages you had planned. Ramming home the same old message isn’t going to win you attention in the current climate.

–       DO become more visible – we are all in need of human connection right now. We can’t go to meetings or events, but we can let people see the whites of our eyes using video. But keep it real, keep it relevant and above all be human.

–       DON’T bombard people with discounts and #covid19 offers – that are basically the same thing you were doing anyway just wrapped up in virus packaging.

–       DO be sensitive to the challenges that businesses are facing, the anxiety people are experiencing and the heightened stress levels we are all experiencing.

I saw a post from someone in my network the other day saying “when did your business become a charity? It’s not so stop giving stuff away for free and create a win/win.”   And my response is YES you need to remain financially viable and have your commercial head on; AND we need to be doing what we can to support the business community.  As businesses, and individuals, we will be remembered for how we show up, how we respond to the current crisis and the needs of others, and the value that we are able to give.

So take that Marketing plan, but don’t rip it up, consider how to reinvent and repurpose it to suit the needs of our marketplace now, to navigate this very strange landscape of communication and differing emotions and challenges in a new way. It’s a great opportunity to think differently and creatively – which is what Marketing is all about, isn’t it?

I came across something Simon Sinek said to his team earlier this week, in a nutshell he explained “ the opportunity is what will we be, not how will we preserve what we were. Those companies in survival mode will fail, those that change and evolve with this will succeed. Reinvent, don’t wait to be able to continue as you were.” So we all need to consider what could we be? How will we bring our message to people in a different way.

I’m sure I’ll be pivoting and flexing my strategy and ideas week on week as lockdown continues and the market changes. But for now, I’m planning on being:

VISIBLE: encouraging my teams to make video, to get their faces and their personalities out in the world so that real people can engage with real people

VOCAL: sharing opinions, writing blogs, giving thought to what we can share that people would truly want to hear; bringing our personalities and human touch to the fore

VALUABLE: giving genuinely useful and helpful advice, digging deep into the expert brains in the business to create the technical content that can make a difference to our audience right now, taking the time to understand what’s needed and bringing solutions to those knotty problems and overwhelming challenges our customers are facing.

 

Marketing Director, Liz Hayward