The abrupt shutdown of the economy in early 2020 due to the coronavirus has turned everything upside down when it comes to B2B marketing. For instance, many organizations were planning on investing heavily in what is termed “live” marketing events this year. Live events typically take place in conference rooms, hotel ballrooms, convention centers, even sports venues.
However, nearly all of those events have been canceled or moved to much less costly and certainly less personal online venues.
Now, B2B marketers are deciding where to put the money they allocated for live events or if they should spend it at all.
According to recent research, the answer may just depend on which industry you are in.
In every downturn—even in the current one that has been so sweeping—some industries do better than others. In the 2000 recession, for instance, many industries were impacted, but the fledgling tech industry may have been hit hardest.
“Fledgling” because the Internet was still somewhat new, and organizations were trying to figure out how best to use and monetize it. It took several years for it to recover.
The real estate bubble burst in 2008, and with it came a profound downturn in not only real estate but also the financial industry. Many organizations, especially financial institutions, were behind the boom and later suffered when everything went bust.
Today, the tech industry is back on top. The industry has been rapidly developing technologies to help people safely go back to school, work remotely, and resume their lives, and investors are taking note. Meanwhile, most all other industry sectors are having difficulties in varying amounts.
Is B2B marketing no longer on the table for these companies?
A study published in April 2020 of 450 B2B marketing professionals by Webbiquity, a B2B marketing agency, uncovered the following:
- More than 60 percent of larger organizations expect at least a modest reduction in their overall marketing budgets for the remainder of 2020 due to the downturn.
- Smaller companies are expected to cut their marketing budgets significantly—more than 60 percent—through the rest of the year.
- As for those live events, 40 percent of the B2B marketers say the funds allocated for in-person events will not be spent. Further, those funds will likely be deducted from the overall marketing budget for the rest of the year.
- Tech firms, on the other hand, are most likely to take those live event funds and find other marketing venues for them.
- For those B2B marketers reallocating live event funds, 43 percent will invest in different forms of content marketing, i.e., blogs, videos, infographics. Additionally, they will fund webinars, website updates, and search engine optimization programs.
Although it was not addressed in this study, other B2B marketing studies indicate things could change almost as rapidly in the next several months as they did earlier this year. If the coronavirus should “burn out” over the next several months, as happened with the 1918 Spanish flu, more ways to treat those that contract the virus, or a safe and reliable vaccine is developed, the economy—and along with it, B2B marketing “spend”—could change dramatically once again.
However, projection studies also indicate that we may be in what can best be termed a holding pattern for the near future, potentially lasting through 2021. Things are not necessarily improving, but many now believe the worst may be behind us.
But as the Webbiquity study points out, “in the meantime, life must go on. Hopefully, understanding how our B2B marketing peers are reacting and responding to this crisis helps other marketers navigate these challenging times more effectively.”
Stay safe. We are and shall get through this.
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