March 18, 2020

B2B Turns to Digital Marketing in the Wake of Coronavirus Outbreak

Interteam Content Services' Dan Gerstenfeld illustrates how marketing budgets, allocated to industry events, are now transferred to online marketing in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak.

30-second summary:
  • Considering that companies allocate the largest chunk of their budgets to trade shows, even a moderate change in preferences is likely to translate into higher investment in web marketing.
  • Figures published by data intelligence company PredictHQ indicate that in February alone, concerns about the coronavirus led to a 500% surge in cancellations and postponements of significant events.
  • Assuming that many marketers will have some extra free time, especially those who will have to go into home isolation, they are advised to use it to review their online marketing strategy and redefine their marketing messages.
  • Strengthening your focus on web marketing will enable you to maintain normality in these crazy days and will give you a competitive edge over competitors who are slow to react.

Recently, I met with a potential client, who expressed great disappointment over the last-minute cancellation of Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020 in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The world largest cellular trade fair would have been the major industry event in which his company was planning to participate. Months of preparation and tens of thousands of dollars were lost as the Coronavirus panic led to the last-minute cancellation decision. The frustrated marketing manager said his company had already been notified that another large show, in which they had planned to shine, had been postponed for the time being.

This is not 2008

I can still remember what happened during the financial crisis of 2008, in which most business-to-business (B2B) companies decided to play it safe and cut their marketing budgets.

I was therefore happy to hear that the company has already adopted a new strategy of shifting the funds allocated to participation in exhibitions to double the investment in online marketing.

On reflection, such a move makes perfect sense.

Add to this the fact that a growing number of organizations are these days minimizing all face-to-face meetings with the inevitable result that they must change their digital strategy and turn it into their key source of lead generation.

Large organizations, such as the World Ban and International Monetary Fund have already announced that they drop all face-to-face meeting and companies on the private sector are expected to follow.

Considering that companies allocate the largest chunk of their budgets to trade shows, even a moderate change in preferences is likely to translate into higher investment in web marketing.

Billions of dollars lost

Figures published by data intelligence company PredictHQ indicate that in February alone, concerns about the coronavirus led to a 500% surge in cancellations and postponements of significant events.

The company said that more than 225 events ranked high impact were cancelled last month and the number of events canceled in March is expected to be significantly higher. The total cost of cancelations is estimated at billions of dollars.

Research conducted in 2018 by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research indicated that B2B marketers who participate in industry events allocated nearly 40 percent of their budgets to exhibitions and industry shows, almost five times more than the 8% spent on online marketing.

Even if only a small fraction of the events’ budgets is shifted to online marketing, it would translate into a massive growth in web marketing.

Online marketing to benefit

The major advantage of digital marketing, besides the fact that it does not require face-to-face interaction, is that it is measurable. Marketers can quite easily obtain a good picture of their spending return on investment (ROI), and of which activities generate the highest number of quality leads and at what expense.

Assuming that many marketers will have some extra free time, especially those who will have to go into home isolation, they are advised to use it to review their online marketing strategy and redefine their marketing messages.

Review your marketing strategy

Marketing executives often complain that they have no time to update their websites because of their work overload. Well, this is exactly the time to revisit the corporate site and make sure that your company is well presented.

B2B Exhibitors' Marketing Budget Allocation

This is also the time to reset goals for your marketing campaigns and take an in-depth look into the performance of past efforts. A close look will for sure indicate that there is real need to refresh much of the marketing materials produced in the past.

This is a great opportunity to fine-tune the following features of your company’s visibility and promotion strategy:

  • Website content – Ensuring that it contains the right marketing messages with the right call for action.
  • SEO – Checking your current website organic search rankings and optimizing them for search engines to improve the quality and quantity of your web traffic
  • Content marketing – Using this opportunity to generate ideas for new blog posts and to start writing the next newsletter for your customers
  • Press releases and articles – Thinking of topics you can inform the media and your clients about and writing professional articles
  • Marketing materials – Preparing presentations, brochures and other marketing materials
  • Social media engagement – Strategizing how you can improve social media engagement and writing new case studies, white papers and professional articles. Increasing the number of webinars you hold
  • Video – Drafting the storyline for your next video

Strengthening your focus on web marketing will enable you to maintain normality in these crazy days and will give you a competitive edge over competitors who are slow to react.

Hopefully, the whole crisis will end soon, but no matter how long it takes strengthening you online marketing efforts will minimize the risk and improve your overall position.

Copyright 2020 ClickZ, North America. All rights reserved. From https://www.clickz.com. By Dan Gerstenfeld.

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