Richard Cook

20 March 2020

A lot of businesses are going to go bust as a result of this hellish Black Mirror episode we find ourselves living in. For those in B2B Technology, this is a particularly treacherous time full of dilemmas. Many brands seem to be paralysed and not sure whether they should be carrying on as if nothing has happened or connecting themselves to the current crisis. It's not just a B2B dilemma; I have had furniture firms emailing me telling me how to make the dream working from home environment and fashion brands offering me advice on what to wear during a conference call. Not helpful. I don't need a new rug or a Dolce jumper. (Well, I do but not right now....)

For a B2B brand, more than ever, this is a time to be of service. It’s a time to share insight, provide content because its useful, not because brands want to build a database. Offer advice and consultancy and information that can help.

B2B buyers at the best of times are thrown into situations where they have to make decisions about solutions and services where they don’t have their expertise. Gartner did a study into B2B buying last September and the report said: “The biggest barrier to B2B sales is not the selling, it’s the buying.” If that was true as of September 2019, that is especially true now. Businesses and b2b buyers are dealing with challenges that they could not have foreseen. If your business can help, it should. Not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because in the long run, it will mean that your business has formed relationships on the basis that it has been of service.

Here are four things that B2B Tech business' marcoms teams can do now to be of service to other businesses:

  1. Check the content that they are putting out. Make sure that the tone is not adding to the stress in the world. Particularly this is true for PR folks like myself who make a living out of telling the world that “60% of IT Directors can't sleep at night because of......" Some campaigns may need to be halted, and that automated content that has been scheduled needs to be examined.
  2. Un-gate content. Reports or data or insights that might be of value- give it all away. Proactively offer it to those who may need it. LinkedIn is great for this. Just make sure it’s not sales material, or if it is, send an explanatory note to say something like: “This was designed before the current crisis so forgive the sales pitch within it, but I thought that some of the insight may be of value”
  3. Offer free consultancy to anyone and everyone who needs it, as far as possible. If you have an expert in IT security available, don’t hide her.
  4. Brands should not be shy about telling the world how they can help – use social media, speak to the press. If a business has something to offer the world, it needs to know. There may be some who interpret actions as cynical brand-building opportunities. Take the risk, but make it clear that you can help and are willing to do so. I predict that the next wave of B2B stories will be examples of altruistic innovation.

We will recover. Perhaps sooner than was first thought. Testing is apparently on its way and the world seems more united than ever before in beating this invisible enemy. When we do recover it will be those brands who have helped businesses that will be part of the recovery. We are all in business, creating wealth, jobs and industry. Let’s not turn off the lights and run away or be ashamed of that responsibility. Our profits pay salaries, pensions and generate innovation. We are in business. Right now it’s time to stop selling and start serving.