The coronavirus, and the social distancing that has accompanied it, has had a devastating impact on businesses all across the world. For B2B salesforces, it has robbed them of the strongest tool in their arsenal — the face-to-face meeting.  

Even as states start to figure out how to reopen their economies, it may be many months (or longer!) before the “sales visit” makes a full comeback. Bottom line, you don’t know when you’ll be able to sit down across the table from prospects again, so the smart move is to evolve your tactics now to keep your pipeline alive. That means embracing digital marketing in all its forms to find new prospects and start those conversations that lead to sales. 

We’ve put together some tips and tricks to help you keep your target audience engaged while still observing stay at home orders and, most importantly, keeping yourself safe and healthy.

1. Invest in LinkedIn Advertising

Finding the right audience is essential to any digital sales or marketing campaign. LinkedIn offers a range of paid advertising options to help you reach your target audience

  • Matched Audiences: If you have a target list of prospects, this is the tactic you want to utilize. To use Matched Audiences, upload a CSV of your prospects’ contact information and it will be matched to their LinkedIn profiles. This enables you to serve ads only to these individuals, eliminating wasted impressions and ad spend. The more information you have, the better your targeting will be, but email is the only essential field.
  • Group Targeting: The ability to leverage LinkedIn groups to network, improve your skills and knowledge, and communicate with your peers is one of the strongest aspects of the platform. While they may seem like a B2B sales dream, they usually have strong moderation and SPAM rules that will get you ejected from the group the moment you try to promote a product or service. You can still reach the individuals in these groups by targeting relevant members with paid ads. These members will see the ads in their newsfeed. This way, the group chat rooms don’t turn into digital conference expo floors, and you can still present key prospects with highly targeted messaging and offers.
  • Skills: Do you sell a product that crosses multiple industries but focuses on a very particular skillset? If so, you are going to spend a lot of time and money trying to target all the industries and job titles that utilize those skills. That’s why we recommend just targeting ads to the skill itself to save yourself a lot of time and frustration. 

Don’t balk at the notion of “paid” advertising. The self-serve platform LinkedIn offers can have an impact with even a relatively modest budget. Reallocating funds you previously had dedicated to client entertainment, travel, and events into paid digital media should be a consideration, if not a priority, for every B2B salesforce. If you need help prioritizing your budget for paid advertising, our LinkedIn experts can work with you to recommend the best options for generating more high-quality leads.

2. Optimize your presentation for remote online viewing

You may be thinking you can take your existing presentations and sales pitch and deliver them in an online environment. Don’t make that mistake. Previously, you were the focus of attention during a presentation. You were able to command a room, use subtlety and nuance, and adjust based on the reaction of your listeners. Now you will likely be speaking to a number of faceless names without their camera on, and the focus of your presentation will be the presentation itself.

Does this mean you have to recreate your presentations from scratch? No, but you will need to revise them to make them more engaging for a digital audience.

  • Simplify your slides: Your audience is going to read your slides before listening to you. Make it as simple and expedient for them as possible. Let them satisfy their curiosity quickly so they can start focusing on you.
  • Focus on visuals: Break up your content with images and whenever possible convey numbers through charts and graphs. If you keep putting up one word-wall after the next, you are going to lose your prospect’s attention and probably a sale.
  • Keep them engaged: It has always been a best practice to customize your slides to your audience, but now it is essential. People love to speak about themselves and their business, so create opportunities for them to do so. Creating a dialogue will keep them from checking their email or working in another tab. Plus, it will help you build those essential personal connections.
  • Turn your camera on: Most people have a desktop camera; they just choose not to use it. By turning your camera on, you help to subtly encourage your audience to turn on theirs. An individual with their camera on is more likely to stay engaged in the presentation and engage you in conversation. Plus, it makes you a person as opposed to a disembodied voice. Which one are you more likely to do business with?

3. Upgrade Your Content Marketing

Nobody wants to be sold to, especially in our current business environment. Your marketing communications and collateral should work to provide value.

Don’t rely on what was working in 2019. Look at your customers’ current pain points and help them solve them. Provide insights. Dissect your email communications and look for opportunities to provide more value. Think about what unique knowledge, insight, or tools you could provide to a prospect that will make their job easier and more efficient. If you change your primary KPI from growing sales to growing trust, the sales will take care of themselves in time.

4. Create Video Content

According to Hubspot, social media posts with video have 48% more views. Due to stay at home orders, digital ads across all social media platforms are at an all-time high. However, as more and more businesses shift their communication strategies, online users will become inundated with advertising and brand messaging. Static sales messages will be lost in the noise. Compelling video content that provides value to your customer/prospect will enable you to survive and thrive in the coming months.

Pro tip: Over 80% of videos are watched without sound and videos under two minutes long get the most engagement. Keep it brief and make sure there are subtitles for viewers who are watching without sound.

5. Don’t Forget Facebook

Facebook doesn’t jump out as a strong B2B tactic, but it offers the same matched audience capability as LinkedIn. You can also use Facebook remarketing technology to make sure you are targeting only individuals who have visited your website previously. Your audience is still your audience no matter where their web browsing takes them. Seeing your two-minute (or less) subtitled video in a location and at a time when they are not used to seeing a B2B message can help you break through the clutter and get a response. In order to use these tactics, you’re going to need to set up a Facebook Business Manager account. If you need help setting up an account, we can walk you through the steps and assist you throughout the entire process.

6. Know Your Teleconferencing Software 

This may seem obvious, but there is a difference between using teleconference software and knowing it. Even under the best circumstances, it can be difficult to keep a prospect’s attention.  Trying to maintain their attention while you are fumbling through the audio controls or trying to figure out how to share your screen on the fly can be an embarrassing disaster and cost you a sale. 

Whether you are using Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting or another platform, take the time to thoroughly learn its functionality (we linked some of our favorite tutorials in their names above). It’s a good idea to practice presentations before your meeting to make sure you can manage them in real time. 

If your sales process is heavily reliant on presentations, you might want to consider working with a digital marketing agency. The right agency will be able to help you create custom interactive sales presentations targeted to your specific needs. When looking for a marketing agency, make sure that they have plenty of experience in building presentations for B2B companies. Ideally, they should have expertise in developing presentations in multiple platforms and formats, including HTML presentations. 

Final Thoughts

There’s no denying that the coronavirus is causing major disruptions for B2B marketers. While it might be tempting to postpone your marketing in light of the crisis, halting spending now could put your business at risk in the future. Instead, marketers should be reaching out to trusted partners to determine how they can change their strategies to engage with prospects and stay connected with customers during these strange, uncertain times.

Schubert b2b has been working closely with B2B companies in multiple industries to help them adapt their marketing strategies and stay top of mind for consumers. If you need help managing your marketing during the coronavirus crisis and planning for the future, we’re here to help. We can help you plan your next marketing moves or quickly pivot your existing strategy to respond to current market conditions. 

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Rich Bosler is Schubert’s Director of Digital Strategy and Marketing. He has an MBA from Temple University and over 10 years of digital marketing experience serving companies both big and small in industries ranging from B2B, non-profit and health care to e-commerce, consumer packaged goods, and more.
When he isn’t working, he is either giving back to his alma mater as an Adjunct Professor of Digital Media & Marketing or watching a Pixar movie with his wife and two young children.

Rich CarangoCarango_color is president of Schubert Communications. Starting at Schubert in 1994, Rich now heads the agency in creating effective IMC campaigns, PR campaigns, advertising, brochures, direct mail, logos, websites, multimedia and content. Rich holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in design from American University. When Rich is not in the office he enjoys spending time with his wife and children and is a huge history buff.