Do not fear the consequences of marketing during a pandemic

Posted on: March 27, 2020

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Category: B2B marketing


Do not fear the consequences of marketing during a pandemic

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Sopro work directly with executive teams in hundreds of businesses and trust me, acceptance has landed.

The vast majority of businesses now fully recognise that the present pandemic conditions are here to stay.  Certainly, for far longer than many of us can remain solvent.

So the decision is easy.

Businesses must adapt.  Right now.

If they do not adapt, they will fail. 

There is no middle-ground.

As a result, we are witnessing the largest and most complex global change management project in the history of humankind.  Executed by experts and amateurs in arms, from coffee counters and kitchen tables, without a plan, or even a clear view of the goal, just a shared understanding that something must be done, and that failure is not an option.

The camaraderie is palpable and incredible work is happening.

In some cases, the solution is straightforward, we touched on some of the best adaptive measures in an earlier post here.

Quick recap:

Sopro ABC Guide to Pandemic Safe Prospecting

(a) Adjust targeting to support sectors still able to avail your products/services.

(b) Adjust your proposition to directly meet new or revised demand scenarios.

(c) Adjust your messaging to reflect the contextual relevance of your proposition within each target sector’s solution to the current conditions. That is the only thing on their mind right now.  Help them solve it.

Sell more. Book a demo today.

Why then – are some businesses fearing the consequences of marketing?

Here’s why.

Through our window to several hundred active B2B marketing operations, in recent weeks we have seen a clear spike in businesses who have received their first objection to marketing.

An objection to marketing is different to a standard Polite Decline (“…thanks… but no thanks.”), and generally speaking, it is less polite.  It can sting a little.

Anxiety and stress levels are in uncharted territory right now, tempers are frayed, and harsh words are sometimes exchanged without due consideration.  It is especially easy to vent through a keyboard.  In the vast, vast majority of cases, people that vocally object to marketing approaches don’t have any particular gripe with you, or your approach, they are just experiencing a difficult time personally.

The business community at large fully understands that we don’t get through this without a concerted effort to maintain business as usual wherever possible.  And we all know that no business can operate indefinitely without finding new customers… so your considerately worded offer to support business X with your product or service is not at all inappropriate.

It’s just that times are tough.

Don’t be dismayed if you receive a disgruntled response to a marketing communication or two over the coming months.

You are not damaging your brand.  People are just stressed.

It’s perfectly natural to panic and you won’t be the only one questioning whether continuing marketing is really the right decision.

It definitely is.

I’ve lost count of the times we’ve seen the terminal effects of pausing marketing… the damage far outweighs the risks every time.

Here are some examples of the kind of messages you might see.

Do you really think this is top of my list right now?
Thanks but I have far more pressing issues with the COVID situation right now.
How can you possibly be asking if I need help with recruitment right now?  

Not pleasant messages to receive… but don’t stress.  There’s a perfectly simple response, and nothing more to it:

Please accept my apologies if I caught you at a bad time.  Totally understandable.  I’ll put this on ice for 3 months.  Best,


Done.  Hakuna Matata.

No risk of brand damage.

More importantly… you are marketing.  The business engine is being fuelled and you will get through this.

Of course, there are plenty of proactive measures you can take to reduce the chances of disgruntling a prospect.  You can adapt your target industries, you can target different job titles, you can adjust your proposition to support each prospect’s likely COVID solution, then adjust messaging to set out your proposition as part of the fix… and many more measures detailed here.

These changes will have huge positive impact.

But you’ll still get the odd screamer.  That’s just how it is right now.

I’ll leave you with this great quote from Jeb Blount this week, courtesy of Daz (SoPro Sales Team).  Slightly paraphrased as originally written for salespeople, but it applies to businesses, yours included.

The 30 Day Rule

The 30-Day Rule states that the prospecting you do in this 30-day period will pay off for the next 90 days.

It is a simple, yet powerful universal rule that governs sales and you ignore it at your peril.

When you internalize this rule, it will drive you to never put prospecting aside for another day.

The implication of the 30-Day Rule is simple. Miss a day of prospecting and it will tend to bite you sometime in the next 90 days.

Miss a week and you will feel it […]. Miss the entire month and you will tank your pipeline, fall into a slump, and wake up 90 days later desperate, with no clue how you ended up there.

― Jeb Blount, Fanatical Prospecting

True story.

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