Adapt Now: How B2B Startups Can Leverage Human Touch in their Marketing to Stay Relevant Post-COVID

by / ⠀Startup Advice / October 23, 2020
Adapt Now: How B2B Startups Can Leverage Human Touch in their Marketing to Stay Relevant Post-COVID

The coronavirus outbreak initiated marketing upheaval. Suddenly, old-fashion companies had to rapidly turn their workforce remote and marketing strategies had to shift to 100% digital. In-person trade shows and sales meetings ceased. Overnight, audiences everywhere demanded to have more relevant, considerate, and human marketing interactions with brands. 

However, the shift to a more authentic marketing approach that is human-centered, embedded with a warmer communication (and non-salesy), and relevant to the audience has been unfolding for years. The coronavirus only accelerated the movement more quickly. Now B2B brands everywhere don’t have a choice but to adapt in order to stay relevant. 

Marketing strategies must now shift towards tactics like social media ‘social selling’, community building, and human-centered content marketing approaches. The human touch is now a mandatory element in every marketing strategy.

Don’t let your B2B startup be boring

As a 28-year-old female entrepreneur in the B2B sector, I’ve seen many vibrant B2B startups struggle to innovate to a human-centered marketing approach. The traditional approach of having person-to-person sales conversations and print advertising is still common practice, but it’s time for a change.

B2B marketing can learn a lot from B2C marketing and vice versa. Both business worlds are relevant and fruitful in developing strategies to connect with their audiences and generate business revenue. However, there’s a disconnect between the two sectors. B2B is often thought of as old, traditional, stale, and boring. Conversely, B2C is thought of as vibrant and emotional, and it can market on cool social media platforms like TikTok. 

That begs the question, is it time for B2B to think more like B2C?

As audiences get older, the “stale and traditional” industry of B2B will have to adapt to a Millennial and Generation Z business world where these age groups dominate critical decision making positions. How do you connect to these B2B decision makers now?

Decision makers today want marketing relevance, to connect to information digitally, and to make decisions individually without any pushy sales tactics. They have a different approach to making buying decisions than that of the Baby Boomers. 

We’re not our parents, right? How do you demand to be sold and marketed to? Our generation demands relevant marketing, empathy, and connection. COVID-19 has made it mandatory for B2B businesses to step up their game in this area.

How to become human-centered in your B2B marketing

It begins with listening. It’s always been about listening to your audience and creating marketing strategies that are relevant to their needs and challenges. During COVID, emotions are high and the world is a bit crazy. Empathy marketing is even more relevant now and it’s demanded by B2B audiences. It’s time to be more human-centered in your B2B marketing and here’s how.

Build authentic connections.

Maybe it sounds a bit selfish, but audiences demand relevant and helpful content that is specific to their needs and wants. Relevance has to appear in their inbox, in their Google searches, and in the advertising on their social media profiles. If you miss the mark in tailoring advertising and content to this audience, you most likely have disrupted the connection with it. Build authentic connections by providing relevant and useful information. Provide marketing that is specific and based in intelligent audience identification and research.

Embrace social selling.

COVID has diminished every last ounce of effective sleazy sales tactics. They just don’t work anymore, and B2B businesses must realize this immediately. To remain relevant to their audience, they must shift their selling strategy to social selling. Social selling is the process of leveraging social media to build authentic conversations and connections with your target audience.

Conscientious of world events

Young audiences of today are more passionate and invested in the world than ever before. They care about sustainability, fighting climate change, social justice, and equal rights for all. Your marketing should reflect these developments and be conscious of how our generation is holding weight on these issues. 

Patagonia is a great example. As a thriving outdoors apparel company, they issued a sustainability statement, donated to climate action organizations, and talked openly about workforce equality. They’ve kept a close, empathic ear to their audience, adjusting their marketing messaging and content long before COVID began. 

As said before, the human-centered marketing movement isn’t a theme— it has been developing for years. Patagonia is a prime example of a company that has taken the shift challenge head on. But will B2B companies be able to do the same, especially in a post-COVID world?

Surviving a post-COVID world

COVID-19 accelerated a movement that’s been growing for years. As a B2B startup, your marketing must be human-centered — leveraging tactics that are empathetic and rooted in human understanding. It’s important to adopt this approach to stay relevant in 2021 and beyond. It’s now more important than ever before to get human in your marketing.

About The Author

Megan Thudium

Megan Thudium is the founder of MTC | The Content Agency, a content agency working with B2B German brands expanding globally into the native-English North American market. Her agency infuses content marketing, SEO, and thought-leadership best practices to drive awareness, credibility, and leads through content marketing. She's an expert on all things B2B content marketing, and her strategic marketing insight has been featured in publications like Forbes, Business.com, Upwork.com, and Managers.org.uk. You can find Megan on LinkedIn actively sharing insight in B2B content marketing.

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