This week, I was given the opportunity to share my perspectives and learn from a fantastic expert panel on the opportunities and challenges that a recessionary environment presents to B2B communicators and marketers. The conversation very naturally came back to a set of key themes time and again: understanding audiences, building trust and getting the right tone, and how to focus on thoughtfully tackling both the challenges and opportunities.
For many financial services communicators, the focus is on building and nurturing B2B connections, but the conversation didn’t stop there. The narrative of this recession is very much focused on the ‘cost of living’, a phrase that brings right to the fore the impact on the day-to-day lives of every type of consumer and customer, including employees. It’s crucial to really understand the challenges, needs and motivations of these customers in a time of pressure and fast moving circumstances. The conversation amongst the panelists touched on needing to know what your customers are wanting to hear and how they want to consume that information, where are the opportunities to be supportive and helpful and how to understand the bigger picture of customer’s economic circumstances.
But how can this in-depth knowledge be built? Building understanding in all of these areas is a scalable task – dependent on the resources you have available. This applies to whether your customers are consumers or businesses.
The power of data
Data is one clear source. Customer surveys, external data sets, and the data you are already collecting with Google analytics, content open rates and website journey mapping all tell you something about your customers. Additionally, the expertise and experience of your colleagues from engaging with your customers is another vital source of information.
The complexities of trust and tone
Trust and tone are two small, but complex words. The panelists discussed several tactics to support these areas:
– Be consistent with messaging and focus key messages on areas where you can support, educate and be a partner in difficult times.
– Share your knowledge, expertise and insights to help others, including customers, industries and employees.
– Demonstrate through your owned channels how you are supporting and helping your customers so they see how they could experience that support too.
– Be authentic to what your business is and does. Be truthful and transparent in how you communicate.
Timing is crucial
In fast changing environments, you might have to consider more regularly when it is and isn’t the right time to communicate. Do your audiences want or need to hear from you right now? Can you be supportive and helpful in this particular moment? If the answer is no, then it might be time for you to step back and communicate again with authenticity when you have something more relevant to say.
To round off our conversation, each panelist shared one challenge and opportunity for B2B communicators and marketers right now. The key challenges discussed were the pace of change, the long-term nature of a recession, and getting comfortable with not always getting it right. But there were clear opportunities to help too, including leveraging the pace of change to communicate in different ways, using data to better understand our audiences, and building great partnerships with customers through sharing the knowledge and tools they need.
Ultimately, there are always challenges and opportunities at play and this is no different during a recession. But one piece of advice that was shared by another member of the panel is a famous quote attributed to Sir Winston Churchill …. ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste!’
To watch a replay of the panel, click here.