With the current situation changing frequently and the future still uncertain, SMEs and start-ups need to be flexible and adaptable.
It is critical that you are delivering value by providing what your business clients and customers NOW while at the same time positioning your company for the once the crisis subsides.
Fortunately, there is a marketing channel most B2B’s frequently overlook that provides just this quick response adaptability – paid media.
Paid media specialist at 3Q Digital in Singapore, Ashley Mo, recently published “How B2B companies can be proactive about managing paid media during COVID-19” (read it here)
From that article, here are my 3 key takeaways and tips as to how SMEs and Start-ups, even those with limited budgets, can use online channels to help them support customers and also generate sales in the short term to stay in business as well as help position them for the “new normal” once the crisis is over.
Set up performance dashboards
As your customers and prospects will be operating heavily, if not, exclusively online, it is vital that you are monitoring your company’s online activity in terms of:
- Traffic sources
- Search terms used to find you
- Search volumes
- Types of media consumption (e.g. videos, podcasts)
This can be achieved using tool such as Search Ads 360 and Google Data Studio. Monitor these performance metrics frequently – at least weekly.
Using this information, meet with your cross-functional team and ask yourselves:
- What do customers and clients need NOW?
- What are these performance stats telling us?
For instance, what are their topics of particular interest, their traffic sources and/or media types that should get more focus?
Hint: You should be talking to your customers and key prospects already!
By doing so, you will be able to understand where traffic to your site is coming from and what kinds of content that your customers and prospects are currently using so you can adjust your content strategy accordingly.
Test new audiences
Think about alternate uses for your product/service that may be relevant
- What does this mean for new potential customer types/segments to serve?
Consider other potential target customers that you either ignored or may have not considered previously such as:
- Customers in different geographic locations that you now may be able to access now that your business is now operating remotely
- Customer segments that you may now be able to provide an online offering making them easier (and hopefully profitable) to serve
Once you have identified potential new audiences, provide them with something helpful – ideally by repurposing or updating existing content. Post this content on your website as well as the relevant social media channels and blogs where these target buyers may go.
Hint: Ideas and inspiration for these can come from talking (or even brainstorming) with customers, suppliers, partners and industry colleagues.
If your budget allows, consider doing a small boost of your content on social media channels such as Facebook and/or LinkedIn where you can specify the criteria for these new test target audiences.
Test for 1-2 weeks, monitor the performance results on your dashboards which you will review weekly.
Focus on awareness and demand generation
Based on what you are learning about your business customers need NOW, identify ways to provide deeper content that will help address some of those burning issues and questions that your customers and prospects may have.
Some suggestions include:
- Webinars/Live Chats
- Short Online workshops/Q&A
- Video Series on key topics
- Online “Breakfast” Forums
- Online Virtual Events
Consider collaborating with customers, suppliers, partners and/or industry colleagues to either host and/or promote these events.
In addition, consider using paid ads such as Facebook or LinkedIn ads where you can specify the target audiences you wish to reach.
While managing costs are paramount at this time, assess whether you can obtain budget from cost reductions elsewhere in your business such as cancelled events, travel or in-person training.
This crisis will eventually pass. The key to both surviving now, and thriving ahead, is to focus more than ever on the fundamentals of listening and deliver what your customers (and buyers!) need.
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About Michael Haynes
B2B Customer Acquisition & Growth Strategy Consultant
For over 20 years, Michael has worked with micro-businesses to large corporates alike across Australia and Canada, developing and implementing business growth strategies and programs.