April 22, 2020
COVID-19 Support: Perspectives from B2B Marketing Leaders
In response to the challenges many of our businesses are facing from COVID-19, Stripes has been hosting a series of virtual panel discussions led by subject matter experts from across our network to share lessons learned. You can also view summaries and key takeaways from our past panels here.
This column focuses on addressing the B2B marketing-related challenges posed by COVID-19. We’re grateful to draw insights from:
- Saagar Kulkarni: Partner at Stripes, Moderator
- Riadh Dridi: Operating Partner at Stripes and CMO at Automation Anywhere
- Kipp Bodnar: CMO at Hubspot
- Yvonne Chen: VP B2B Marketing at Udemy
- Leigh Moore: VP Marketing at Snyk
We thank our incredibly informed and insightful panelists for taking the time to participate, particularly while they are facing many of the issues we discussed during our session.
To view a recording of this session, please click here.
While each firm's response will be different, our panelists shared what has been successful for them and how they’ve advised their peers. More specifically:
- Think out-of-the-box to build relationships with prospects by trying channels like direct mail, webinars, or even paying for dinner. In this new climate, Yvonne Chen and her team at Udemy have had success using direct mail to foster more intimate relationships with prospects. Similarly, they’ve shifted their content marketing team to SEO and demand gen so the live events team could double down on webinars, where our panelists explained engagement is 3 times as high as pre-COVID levels. To get even more creative, consider offering prospects gift cards to have dinner with their families since you can’t take them out to dinner.
- While you may need to decrease your budget, others are doing the same, which creates opportunities to make your remaining spend go further and find great talent. Kipp Bodnar of HubSpot noted that the cost of paid media has gone down as marketers have pulled their budgets, creating stronger ROI for his team’s marketing campaigns. Unfortunately, many companies have had to lay off or furlough marketing staff, but this also means there’s a growing and very talented pool of marketers to hire or contract.
- Be laser-focused on product utilization rates and customer renewal dates, and build communities among your customers. To know which customers to prioritize, Riadh Dridi recommends closely monitoring product utilization rates and customer renewal dates. Automation Anywhere also regularly gathers groups of 3-4 customers on Zoom calls as part of their “Coffee with Friends” initiative. That program has been particularly effective amidst COVID-19 as business leaders are eager to trade notes on adapting to this uncertain economic climate and sharing use cases of your product.
- Develop an in-depth understanding of how your prospects’ needs are changing by vertical and by use case, and utilize that context in your outreach. Riadh’s team at Automation Anywhere has seen higher response rates by focusing on prospects in verticals with higher demand for automation tools amidst COVID-19, including healthcare, banking, insurance, and the public sector. Kipp also notes that companies like HubSpot with a revenue-generating value proposition can reposition themselves with a cost-savings pitch by enabling prospects with multiple point solutions to consolidate vendors.
- Communicate with genuine empathy. As Leigh Moore put it, “We’re here to help...If now’s not a good time, we’ll be here when it is a good time.” To wit, Snyk made the enterprise tier of their product free for 6 months in industries hit hardest by COVID-19. In a similar vein, ensure messaging around free products and education is centered on support rather than conversion.
As the environment around us has been changing faster than ever, we expect to add or revisit topics and additional resources as they become pertinent and helpful. Should you have any follow-up questions from the summary above, or if you have any other suggested topics or questions for us to cover, please submit them through this form.