While the overall ad market in the U.S. is contracting due to COVID-19, B2B digital ad spending is up 22.6% year over year, according to “U.S. B2B Digital Advertising 2020,” a research report by eMarketer.
Why is digital ad spending increasing?
- When you can no longer meet in person, digital channels perform the heavy lifting of connecting suppliers with potential customers.
- As overall marketing budgets are constrained, the need for B2B marketers to measure and report back ROI only intensifies.
- Digital advertising, such as search, social media, and display ads provide metrics to easily measure their performance.
In sum, a digital heavy approach can give you greater control over your budget and measurement, as well as connect you with prospects in this difficult time.
What if customers aren’t buying?
Economists are not in complete agreement on whether we are in a recession or just a temporary dip due to the pandemic, but either way, the impact is the same, especially if your customers aren’t buying right now.
So why should you invest in digital advertising right now? Many research studies have shown that companies that continue to market during a recession come out stronger and with a better market position than those companies that cut back.
Even if your customers aren’t buying right now, digital advertising can increase the visibility of your brand and keep you top of mind with customers and prospects when they are ready to buy. Otherwise, you might forgo a chance to be remembered and placed on their shortlist of potential vendors for future purchases.
Furthermore, the sales and buying cycle tends to be longer in B2B markets. This favors longer-term branding efforts through digital advertising channels. By laying the groundwork now, you may not be able to immediately profit during the recession, but you will be more likely to capitalize during the recovery.
Lessons from previous downturns
Companies have learned a lot about navigating through recessions, and many marketing lessons hold true across time and apply to industrial suppliers:
- Don’t withdraw from advertising, unless your company’s short-term survival depends on it.
- When there is little current demand to be had, use longer-term brand advertising to take the place of shorter-term demand generation.
- You can defend and even gain brand recognition when competitors cut back.
- Adjust your message to acknowledge the pain your customers may be experiencing.
Match the mood of customers
Every customer wants to feel listened to and understood. This is the time to demonstrate humanity and warmth. It is time to let them know you are there for them and will continue to be there when they are ready to make purchasing decisions.
You can weave this kind of messaging into advertising, articles, white papers, social media posts, webinars, and more. You can also create more content that is purely educational, such as how-to pieces, descriptions of processes, or explanations of technologies.
Choose advertising channels wisely
Despite all the reasons to continue maintaining a digital advertising presence during this difficult time, you might not have as much budget to spend as you normally would.
To maximize the positive impact of your budget, seek out measurable, proven digital channels that reach the specific audience you want to target, whether it’s current customers or potential markets. The best way to do this is to work with your media partners.