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How B2B publishers can build trust during a crisis (including IRL examples)

The uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic has left businesses searching for answers and being cautious with their spend. It’s a situation that leaves B2B magazine publishers with both opportunities and challenges. 

On the one hand, its a good opportunity to build trust and connection in your brand by providing the right information at the right time, with the right nuance. 

On the other hand, it presents a challenge as advertisers become more discerning about their marketing spend while navigating an unprecedented event. They’re looking for reassurance that the money they’re investing is going to get results. 

Publishers can address both of these points with a good communication strategy, and a willingness to be flexible and transparent. 

Let’s run through some tips on how to build trust in a crisis, including some examples of B2B publishers who are doing it right. 

Be a COVID-19 resource for your industry 

The majority of Australian B2B and news publishers have experienced a spike in their website traffic thanks to people across the nation seeking information about COVID-19 and how it affects them. 

Google Trends shows the increase in total COVID-19 related searches over the last 30 days. 

Google Trends search popularity of COVID-19 in Australia over the last 30 days.

The peak may have passed, but businesses will continue to look for answers until the pandemic is over.  

Tip 1: Adapt your publishing schedule to the pace of the news. If you don’t usually publish on your website every day, reconsider this duing the pandemic when your audience is searching for the most up-to-date information. If they don’t get the news from you, they’ll find it elsewhere, and you many lose a subscriber. 

Tip 2: Creating a dedicated space on your website for the latest COVID-19 news means that those in your industry can easily digest the information that they need to be across. Early childhood education and care B2B website The Sector has done this so that their audience doesn’t miss the latest news. 

Include a link to the dedicated COVID-19 resource area in your e-newsletter and other e-marketing communications – or if there is a lot of pandemic related news, consider sending a ‘pop up’ e-newsletter to your subscribers with a summary of the news. 

Don’t be shy with ‘breaking news’ alerts…if they contain essential news 

Getting the balance right with the amount of e-marketing sent to your audience can be tricky. Too little and you miss out on engagement opportunities with your audience, too much and your subscribers will disengage or even worse, unsubscribe. 

Tip 3: If there was ever a suitable time to send ‘breaking news alerts’, its during a pandemic. 

The COVID-19 situation is evolving quickly and your audience will be wanting the news as it happens. Just make sure that the news is as current as possible and contains essential information affecting your industry. 

Communicate your successes, gracefully 

Tip 4: Let your readers and advertisers know that the industry is turning to you for information. It’ll give your advertisers reassurance that their marketing spend is best placed with you, and it’ll promote your brand as a trusted industry source to new readers.  

But be careful about your messaging – you don’t want to gloat; it’s not about your company, it’s about helping others. Prime Creative Media hits the mark with its messages to readers of its mining brands Australian Mining and Safe to Work

Make sure your automated marketing is still appropriate 

Tip 5: It’s a good time to review any of the automated marketing that you might have scheduled during the pandemic. Subscriber welcome emails, sales drip campaigns, social media posts, renewal emails…anything that’s been a set-and-forget automation that you’ve had for a while. 

Make sure your messaging and tone are still appropriate in the current COVID-19 climate. Is there a way that it can be tweaked to focus on building relationships and connection within your industry? That’s what is going to build trust right now. 

Be transparent about how your own business operations will change 

Tip 6: Let your clients know the measures that you are taking to keep your staff safe, and your clients safe. If you’ve had to make significant changes to your products and services, – i.e. if you’ve had to cancel an event to be held over the next 6 months – be open about why, what these changes mean for the continuity of your client relationships and the future of your business. 

Transparency builds trust. It’s important to let your readers and clients know how you are going to be there for them during this time. And it’s ok to be vulnerable: explain how your business will be impacted and what you plan to do to overcome the challenges. 

Mumbrella Founder Tim Burrowes is known for being transparent with his readership about the company’s successes and low points. In this article, he detailed the changes that the company was making to its event line-up for the year thanks to COVID-19, and the impact that it was likely to have on the business (50 per cent of Mumbrella’s revenue comes from events). 

Mumbrella has also posted about why it is reducing staff hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Increase customer service

The COVID-19 outbreak brings a lot of uncertainty for businesses and individuals. The total effects of the pandemic won’t be known until the outbreak is well in decline – and we don’t yet know when that will be, what the state of the economy will be by the end of it, and if buying patterns will be the same after the worst has passed. 

This puts a lot of stress on your business, and your clients’ businesses. Regardless of the challenges that your team are facing, make sure that they are mindful of the pressure that your subscribers and advertisers might be under. 

You’ll likely receive more inquiries as your clients grapple with the changed environment, and its important that your customer service is as efficient and helpful as possible. 

Being there for your clients will strengthen your relationships well into the future. Providing ineffective or unfriendly customer service at a time like this can ruin the goodwill and reputation that you’ve built over time. 

Tip 7: Reiterate the importance of customer service to your entire team, ensure any general inquiry email addresses are being reviewed, and consider sending out dedicated e-marketing letting your key clients know that you can be contacted for assistance. 

Finance, defence and legal sector publisher Momentum Media has detailed the changes that it has made to its staffing to ensure it can appropriately serve its industries with the information and marketing the need in a COVID-19 era. 

Think about how your subscribers are going to receive their magazines 

Do most of your subscribers receive magazines to their workplace? If this is the case, you’ll need to think about how your magazine will reach its readership. 

Tip 8: Offering to deliver your magazines directly to subscribers homes demonstrates your willingness to go above and beyond for your readership and your advertisers. It also allows you the opportunity to better understand your subscribers – you’ll not only receive additional contact details for each subscriber, but also an indication of their level of engagement with the magazine. 

Prime Creative Media is taking this one step further and offering a free three-month home-delivered subscription to e-newsletter subscribers of its logistics brand MHD Supply Chain Solutions

If you can afford the extra distribution at this point in time, this technique will gives you a good lead list for new subscribers for the start of the new financial year. 

Think about the help your advertisers need to make purchasing decisions at this time 

Your advertisers will be looking for more reassurance about their marketing spend because of the uncertainty of COVID-19. 

Tip 9: Think about the information and help they need to feel confident about making a purchasing decision. What’s the best way to deliver this information?  

Melbourne-based B2B publisher Monkey Media has produced a content marketing piece offering marketing tips to their clients. Energy and infrastructure publisher Great Southern Press has suggested that now is a good time to plan for the longer term, and logistics brand MHD Supply Chain has published an e-guide on communicating to clients during the crisis

Adapt your service to help your clients 

Some industries have been heavily impacted by the isolation restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic: retail, hospitality, travel, events, sport, and many more. Businesses in these sectors are taking a big hit to their bottom line, and the publishers that serve these industries will likely take a hit too. 

Tip 10: Get innovative to survive. What do your clients need right now to help sell their product, and how can you help them do it? 

Sydney-based Intermedia publishes The Shout, a liquor industry website. The Shout has set up a digital marketplace where liquor brands can connect with retailers to sell their product – instead of sales representatives visiting the stores direct. 

Momentum Media organises a number of events for the corporate sector, and they’ve just announced a partnership with an audio-visual provider to deliver live broadcasts and virtual events in lieu of in-person attendance. 

How to build trust in a crisis: be transparent, helpful and dynamic  

How to build trust in a crisis boils down to three main points: 

  1. Be transparent with your clients about how your business is changing and how you will continue to serve them 
  2. Provide effective customer service to deal with additional queries that may be made
  3. Be dynamic and willing to adapt your products and services to best meet the needs of your readers and advertisers during the crisis. 

There are plenty of great examples of B2B publishers doing these three things – many that haven’t been highlighted as examples in this article. If you know of a good example that’s been missed, please share in the comments section below. 

Written by Lyndsie Clark

Niche Publishing Network Founder and Editor Lyndsie Clark has over 10 years of niche publishing experience, working in a variety of roles spanning B2B editorial, sales, operations, events, BD, and management.

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