How to get your marketing message out, when engineers are staying in.

The Covid-19 outbreak makes companies have to double down on high quality content marketing. Here’s how.

Introduction

During ‘normal’ times companies rely heavily on physical events for marketing: On average B2B businesses spend almost 30% of their marketing budget on conferences, trade shows, and the likes. However, one of the big economic consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak is the cancellation of any physical event and severely reduced travel abilities, most likely for many months to come.

Of course, some companies’ financial status currently doesn’t allow for anything except cutting all costs including marketing. Yet, research shows that for most companies, simply cutting costs and going on defense during a crisis isn’t a strategy for success. According to HBR, “Firms that cut costs faster and deeper than rivals don’t necessarily flourish. They have the lowest probability — 21% — of pulling ahead of the competition when times get better.”[1]

Even if revenue decreases, the flowing of information and the connecting of people are an essential need to survive difficult times, and to thrive when times get better. This insight cannot be understated. We need to keep the economy going together, and find solutions for the gaps left by the impact of the coronavirus.

So, if you think reaching potential customers in these times of crisis is still essential for your business long term success, then what do you do when physical presence is no longer an option?

Source: Impact of COVID on Marketing Study

What falls away when conferences go extinct:

Conferences, trade shows, and other events fulfil a number of functions, including:

1: Creating brand awareness.

  • Firstly, physical presence, whether with a booth, as a speaker, or as a sponsor forms the basis of making your audience know your brand and associating it with a certain topic. And it’s the quality of your stand, your talk, or of the event, that determines if your investment actually results in more positive brand awareness. ‘Content’ quality is king here.

2: Educating your audience and establishing thought leadership (Thought leadership meaning having sought-after expertise and intellectual influence through innovative or pioneering thinking) 

3: Acquiring sales leads.

  • The direct connection you have on the event floor enables you to turn the interest of your audience into leads on a personal basis.

4: Networking.

  • Which stems from the personal two-way conversations happening at events, paired with the serendipity effect (which as good and bad sides, serendipity can also mean you just missed that key person to connect with)

The unique mix of those functions seems what intuitively used to drive companies’ enthusiasm for events, despite it being notoriously difficult to determine their ROI.

So, with these opportunities being out of the window for the near future, and the chances of companies and visitors being hesitant to return to events when Covid-19 subsides, marketing departments across the board turn their attention to digital marketing.

But creating brand awareness, establishing thought leadership, and generating engagement isn’t achieved by a Google Ads campaign or slapping a bunch of banner ads online. The effectiveness of ads has been plummeting for years. Especially among the tech-savvy audience that B2B technology companies need to reach this should be clear: banner ads don’t work. 

Over 43% of internet users globally use adblockers[2], with mobile adblocking rising by 64% last year[3]. Among the younger and tech-savvy the amount of blocking is even higher. At Wevolver we estimate based on our analytics tools that between 55%-60% of our engineering community blocks ads. Furthermore, seeing too many ads results in annoyance which can negatively impact brand perception, and people are increasingly skeptical about marketing messages.

This of course has not gone unnoticed. Content marketing (or, achieving your marketing goals by providing your audience with genuinely valuable information) has been growing by double digits in the past years.[4] However, performing high impact content marketing is hard.

Wevolver’s Case Study:

After establishing one of the largest communities of engineering professionals, Wevolver started offering technology companies the opportunity to sponsor high quality informative content on its platform as a way to create brand awareness and establish thought leadership. An example of this is the 2020 Autonomous Vehicle Technology Report. It was written by Wevolver’s editorial team and a group of field experts from the Wevolver engineering community. Semiconductor multinational Nexperia financially sponsored the writing of the report because they want to increase awareness for their brand in the automotive sector: Nexperia wants to be associated by engineers with the cutting edge in automotive technology. 

The result of this collaboration was an 80 page report, available online as well as a downloadable PDF, that received critical acclaim across the industry. Extensive sharing and forwarding on social media brought well over 1 million impressions on the content, and thousands of PDF downloads.

Projects like these result in high impact and evergreen content, that will continue to provide value to its readers and sponsors alike. For example, months after its publication the Autonomous Vehicle Technology report attracts significant amounts of readers.

Wevolver’s Proposal:

Unfortunately, these are very involved projects that are only within the budget ranges of large enterprises. But to recover at least some of the reduced marketing possibilities resulting from the world-wide cancellation of events, also smaller companies double down on content marketing: At Wevolver we have seen a surge in demand, and most of our connections across the engineering industry express that they are fully focussing on digital marketing.

Therefore, soon after the crisis hit Wevolver deployed a program that enables B2B technology companies of any size to publish content to its engineering community and connect with the global engineering community for a low cost monthly subscription.

With the subscription, companies can post blog articles, whitepapers, case studies, and other informative content that engineers are seeking to stay up to date and grow their knowledge during product development. 

Not by chance this is a time where people spend even more time online consuming information. Companies big and small sit on a wealth of in-depth knowledge about their own technology and the developments in their field. Knowledge that can be turned into valuable content for their audience. Therefore, content marketing can provide a low-cost, high impact alternative to many of the functions traditionally performed by events.

At Wevolver we strongly believe that companies who share authentic, valuable information that inspires their readers are able to get the attention they deserve from their users and customers. Therefore, we are looking to connect with marketing professionals who share our vision and who despite today’s challenges are also excited about the opportunities that still exist. 

Are you involved in marketing your B2B technology company to an engineering audience? We’re offering the first 10 respondents a free content quality scan and consultation on engineering content marketing (value $950).

If you like to learn more or have questions, feel free to email at richard@wevolver.com

[1] Harvard Business Review, 2010, Roaring out of Recession

[2] Globalwebindex Ad-blocking Insight report 2018

[3] Pagefair 2020 Adblocking Report

[4] Technavio Global Content Marketing Market 2017-2021