2020.9.30 Column

After Covid-19: The future of B2B Marketing

After Covid-19: the future of B2B marketingThe spread of Covid-19 has changed everything. Not only the way we live and the way we work, but also consumer trends, business, marketing strategies have had a drastic impact by the pandemic. 

Many businesses froze, unsure how to move in a very new scenario; others, decided to go through trial and error looking for some way to overcome their current hardships.

Japan has seen itself a drastic change in business and trends due to Novel Coronavirus pandemic, with physical events suspended or postponed, companies forced to let their employees work from home and the evolution of some old customs into digital.

In this unstable situation how is marketing changed? What is the future of B2B marketing in Japan

In this article, we have summed up how B2B marketing has changed in the past few months and what B2B marketers should face the new normal through marketing in Japan. 

Marketing before Covid-19

The marketing and sales funnel has been around since the first companies in the business of acquiring customers have been established. However, throughout the years, with the advent of the digital marketing, it has fairly changed, and, in an era where online and offline coexist at the same time, also the stages in charge of marketing and sales has changed, as well as customer behavior

Marketing funnel Online and OfflineBasically, while offline, the TOFU and part of the MOFU, consisting in generating awareness to generating leads, were managed by marketing: physical events, such as exhibitions or seminars for new products introduction, advertising, and so on. On the other hand, the BOFU stage, from contact to follow-up, were managed by sales. But what about nurturing? Here comes again the marketing team organizing, for instance, users’ sessions. 
Digital Marketing has put this into question, changing the stages and the roles of marketing and sales. Online, marketing is in charge of converting leads into customers (TOFU, MOFU, BOFU), while sales focusing on customers after the order. 

After Covid-19: Online-focused Marketing 

Covid-19 pandemic has changed everything again. In order to stop the spread, online got the better of offline, shaking up all the certainties we had had until now. A new normal, where we have changed. And customers have changed

How have customer changed?

E-mail, chat tools, video meetings, kanban and tasks lists shared live with your team. Coronavirus has forced us to avoid crowded spaces and to create a new system which allows us to work easily from home and remotely. We have rethought about efficiency and effectiveness in this new workspace, where we do not even need to pick up a phone to contact someone. We can simply do by email. 

The way we use our time has also transformed. Did you need an information? “Let’s meet up!”. Now, we are spur to look for the information or answer we need by ourselves and contact and meet the other party just if necessary. 

Finally, the touchpoints have changed. According to NTT Communication, the data traffic volume has increased by approximately 50% in Japan (domestic data traffic increased by 58% in April compared to the same month of the previous year), as well as the use of the SNS has increased of 30%. 
Definitely, customers’ initiative has become even stronger. In B2B as well.

Adopting a “defensive” Strategy 

As a consequence, the time between information acquisition and decision-making process, as well as action has changed too.
In this digital era, a B2B company can directly contact the concerned person via SNS, or email and ask for additional information before the estimation or invoice.

Also, product replacement is become more frequent, as well as proposal-based projects

So, what could a business do in this situation?
Basing on your company’s strategy you can decide to re-prioritize and where to cut costs and to invest aggressively. In this way, you have more chances to make the right choice without failing, adopting a “defensive” strategy

Also, in this scenario, is it still fine to think how to get new customer

A new marketing prospective: "Being chosen" by customers

After Covid-19 is now necessary to rethink our marketing strategy and convert it into acustomer-centric” strategy, aimed to be chosen by the customers, instead of focusing just on how to get new customers. 

In order to do this, it is necessary that marketing and sales work together to nurture and maintain these clients who we have already worked with or who have interest in us.

And why should customers choose us?

There are two main reason why a potential customer should choose our company: 

1.    Product features – Specifications – Price
2.    Corporate culture, mission, vision, and company environment

However, after Coronavirus, product features, specifications, and prices are no longer commoditized and can easily be replaced. 

So, in this new normal, businesses should focus on activities which make people sympathize with their corporate culture and vision

Of course, it is not a new thing. But, if before, especially in B2B, businesses used to communicate their company culture during face-to-face meetings or physical events, it is now necessary to take advantage of Social Media and online events to do this, communicating “LIVE”

SNS x Events 

Not only corporate culture and company environment. Social Media channels are also a great tool for promoting and getting engagement in both small internal events and bigger corporate events, such as webinar or online exhibitions.

On one hand the huge audience and the power of sharing typical of Social Media; on the other, the corporate storytelling, and the sense of belonging own of the Events.
Using Social Media to communicate your events could be the key to increase both transmission and contents. 

How has Marketing changed at Bigbeat?

In the past few months, Japanese market is changed a lot, shifting a great number of marketing activities online.
Nowadays, online communication, as well as online events, such as webinars or exhibitions, have become the normality and are increasing day by day all over Japanese companies.

Towards online events

With over 25 years of experience in physical events, also at Bigbeat we have moved a step forward and designed new services able to answer our market needs.

In May, we have launched “B-Square Webinar”, our in-house developed B2B webinar/online event platform and event secretariat package service. 

Then later, we have inaugurated our Rock!Up Studio, a recording studio located in our office, along with outsourcing services for live and OnDemand streaming for B2B online events and webinars. We are providing total support for online events from the preparation to the recording and broadcast of streams, using our know-how, we have accumulated over 25 years of experience.

Even our own B2B marketing event, “Bigbeat LIVE”, has been held online this year. It has been streamed LIVE directly from our Rock!Up Studio and, combined with an strong communication on Social Media, it has revealed itself a great success. 

Communicating our corporate culture “Live” through Social Media

Constantly communicating your corporate culture and company environment to your community through social media is important for increasing brand awareness, trust, and engagement. Not only B2C companies, but also B2B enterprises should take advantage of SNS to convey their communication. 

As Bigbeat is based in Japan, we use different Social Media for Japanese market and Global market. 

As in Japan the most used SNS in B2B are Facebook and Twitter, we opted for them. But with different target audience, contents, and tone of voice! 

For Global market (i.e. English speakers), as our target is B2B companies, we use mainly LinkedIn and Facebook. The latter especially for communicating our company environment, CSR, and fun facts about us. 

Moreover, Social Media are a great tool for us also to promote our internal events, as well as for constantly engaging our community and increasing trust. 

After Covid-19: a new B2B marketing strategy

The Novel Coronavirus pandemic has jeopardized everything and has force us to think again our life, work, business, and strategy. 
We are permanently changed. And, so, customers are changed. 

While so far, the question has been “How can I get new customer?”, now, it is time for B2B marketing to focus on designing customer-centric activities aimed at maintaining and nurturing existing customers. 

In other words, it has to change its prospective and design new activities aimed at “being chosen”, creating “live” contents, aimed at communicating our company uniqueness, and taking the maximum advantage of social media and online events to convey it.

Bigbeat Inc. has 25 years of experience in B2B marketing. If your company is interested in hosting an online event in Japan, or if you need further information or assistance, do not hesitate to contact us!

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Originally published Sptember 30, 2020, updated March 1, 2021.