How B2B businesses can thrive in the Covid-19 World.

It’s not business as usual. We need to understand this economic downturn is the new normal. 

Chapter 1: Be The Leader. Pivot, Don’t Panic.

Chapter 2: 2020 was written by Stephen King and directed by Quentin Tarantino

Chapter 3: The COVID-19 Contingency Marketing Plan 

Chapter 4: For your eyes only

Chapter 5: Chapter 5: New Facebook & Google Ads

Chapter 1: Be The Leader. Pivot, Don’t Panic.

It’s not business as usual. We need to understand this economic downturn is the new normal. 

I talked to 11 CEOs last week about leads, sales, and revenue and they were all freaking out.

My business not only survived 9/11 and the 2008 crash but thrived in spite of them.

The key to excelling in this market correction is to pivot. That means a lot of different things depending on the stage of your business. And some business models are so weak, they will not be able to survive. But that’s for another day.

You need to pivot in some way until you find where you fit into the market. 

I hate to tell you this, but once you pivot it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. It takes time to adjust marketing, message, core offer, pricing, etc. 

Here is the good news:  each CEO I spoke to found a new way to create revenue after our calls. That is going to be the most important thing right now to stay afloat.

Look at how to change the core offer to make sure it’s a no brainer when pitching it. 

Try to sell the recurring projects or roll out time blocks that clients can prepay for. 

Be careful with your billing. If the accounting department is working from home, who is going to head to the office and cut and mail your check?

Review payment terms and make sure you get paid. Don’t play the role of the bank for your clients. 

I have seen businesses go under due to slow receivables. Getting paid in 90 or 180 days is asking for trouble in today’s market.

Next, review your marketing. 

Today I got an email from a sales guru who was telling me about the New York private party he was attending.

Plus, if I bought his $20K coaching program I would finally get everything I wanted in life. 

His email included images of him at Times Square before the party. This is the type of marketing that might have worked in a good economy but not anymore. 

Be real about the problems and address them head-on. 

The next 12-24 months is when some of the biggest companies will be made. 

The question is will you step up and lead or retreat and try to survive? 

This is the first of a 7 part series to help businesses win in a new world of uncertainty. I would love your feedback about this content and what impact this downturn is having on your business.

I’m going to say the hard things you might not want to hear:  the cold hard facts that need to be talked about to challenge your current thinking and create a paradigm shift.

Chapter 2: 2020 was written by Stephen King and directed by Quentin Tarantino

I think 2020 was written by Stephen King and directed by Quentin Tarantino…and it’s only Q1.

Let’s hope Q2 is written by Mr. Rogers because we need some good news.

Right now everybody is making knee jerk reactions with pricing.  

If you’re already low on cash or don’t have a war chest to survive the next 12-24 months, the last thing you need to do is cut prices.

Businesses are not buying based on the price, they’re buying based on value. Value has a different meaning to you than it does to the end customer.

Now let’s look at a great example of a $675 million business and what they’re doing for their COVID-19 contingency plan.

I don’t suggest you follow their model unless you have a war chest and you’re ready to create a massive market share from this crisis.

But I believe 100% you need to understand why and how it can be applied to business today.

Let’s take a look at the darling of the inbound world, HubSpot. 

Today HubSpot slashed their prices for the Growth Suite from $112.50 to $50 for the next 12 months provided you sign a 12-month contract.  Existing customers will also get the discount.  

As you probably know, I’m a massive HubSpot fan.

I think this is a brilliant move.

It will put significant pressure on a lot of other marketing platforms that are not as well-financed.

On the surface this just seems like a knee-jerk reaction, but it’s absolutely brilliant and will be the death nail to a number of smaller competitors.

Here’s the logic behind HubSpot’s Growth Suite price drop.

A lot of people will jump ship and reconsider existing marketing platforms in light of the price drop.  While the price drop is only for 12 months, that’s all the time HubSpot needs.  

The Growth Suite includes Marketing, Sales, CRM and Service Hub.  

$50 per month is a massive value and makes it affordable for almost any business.

They are creating a guaranteed cash flow for the next 12 months.  Even if they break even, it is still cash flow and customer acquisition.

Let’s face it; customer acquisition and cash flow are king during a recession. 

HubSpot’s pricing will create a negative impact on competitors as they lose monthly continuity.  Your goal is to generate cash flow to live to fight another day. If you’re breaking even you will still be in business in 12-24 months.

A certain number of users will upgrade to the higher tier products once they’ve embedded themselves into the world of the HubSpot market. 

Build out your marketing stack over 12 months and it becomes a massive hurdle to switch even when the prices go back up. 

So getting users started with the ground floor pricing is the key.

A certain number of users will upgrade to the $3,200 per month premium plan.  This offsets a lot of acquisition cost. 

They have products at every price point from free to Enterprise. 

The free plan has a lot of features that rival most paid competitors.  This is a brilliant move on their part because it allows users to acquire the tools they need one by one based on growth levels. Inside the free CRM they have a number of ways to upgrade. They have a clear upgrade path.

Software is only a tool.  So they’ve gone past that and created live events.  Inbound was one of the few events I wanted to attend next year.  They built a culture around Inbound and emotionally bonded with their buyers.  While it’s easy to disconnect from software, it’s much harder to disconnect from a tribe of like-minded individuals.

They have a common enemy. They make funnels out as the bad guy in marketing. And the flywheel is taking its place. 

As a side note, funnels are dead in some sales processes. But that’s in B2B sales where things don’t follow a linear path. I’ll talk about that later.

Build your brand around a likable person. The 2 co-founders of HubSpot are polar opposites. One goes to a networking meeting and the other has  conversations with a plant. When you watch these guys on stage they are funny in different ways. One has dry humor and the other one is wound tight. 

Know your audiences and craft everything around that. If you don’t have a buyer profile hanging on your wall, you hate money. Know what your perfect buyer is dealing with:  what do they think, what offers do they see? Know them like the back of your hand.

I want you to run everything you are doing right now through the lens for what I just shared with you. Ask yourself what can be done to better position your business for the next 12-24 months. Reply and let me know if this helps.

Chapter 3: The COVID-19 Contingency Marketing Plan 

We live in uncertain times right now, but don’t let that paralyze your business.

I’m sharing a proven strategy for you to follow so you don’t end up doing random acts of marketing.

Follow this growth plan to weather the storm and thrive.

1. Leverage your existing database with a Dean Jackson 9 word email.

One of my clients sent it out Wednesday at 4:33 PM and Thursday morning he was flooded with responses.

The subject should be a first name or something personal.

The body should be very simple.

Are you still looking to <DO WHAT IT IS YOU SELL>?

Click the links below to check out some samples and hear Dean Jackson explain it in detail.

Make it look personal.

I use this email about once a month to make sure we keep a full waiting list.

2. Step up and play a bigger game.

Sharpen your marketing and sales skills because when this is over there will be a new breed of competition. 

If you think competition is bad now, you haven’t seen anything.

When it’s over, your competition is going to be seasoned, battle-hardened, look like Godzilla on steroids and ready to take on the world.

Upgrading your marketing and sales skills right now is the only way to make it to the end of this crisis as a business owner.

Drift launched an Insider Community where 20,000+ other marketers and salespeople are already sharing ideas and starting conversations. 

You should definitely check it out and sign up.

Here’s a link you can use to check it out:

Let me know what you think!

And yes, this is my cool referral link where they send me stuff.

3. The dream is free but the hustle is sold separately.

The businesses that survive are going to be the smartest, fastest, leanest businesses around.

Don’t take the “let’s stand back and see what happens” approach. 

They’re investing time, energy, and resources exploring new ways to reach their buyer and decision makers whether it is through social, paid, cold email, direct mail, phone calls, virtual events, smoke signals or anything in between.

This is truly an all-hands-on-deck event. Your entire team better be aligned with your mission and purpose and have the same level of drive as you.

The weakest team member is setting the standard that everyone plays by. 

Watch this video:

It all comes down to one thing:  how bad do you want to survive?

4. Get everything you can out of what you already have.

When traffic is cheap it’s easy to focus on numbers of clicks, visitors and conversions.  Spend more time converting those visitors into clients with CRO, Conversion Rate Optimization.

Every funnel and flywheel has to be optimized to the nth degree to squeeze out every bit of revenue.

There are countless CRO split testing and optimization softwares, but the one I recommend is Google Optimizer.

It’s free and it works seamlessly with Google Analytics.  You can be up and running split testing in under an hour, even if you’ve never set one up before.

5. Use reporting dashboards.

I am begging every client to get a marketing and sales dashboard in place.

Once you have it in place you can spot changes in KPI the moment they happen versus discovering two or three days later something has broken.

Because I’m a HubSpot fan, I recommend DataBox and it’s free. Plus, it integrates directly with HubSpot. 

Google Data Studio is another option that’s free and is robust. Honestly, it’s better than most paid products on the market.  

As marketers the only way to keep clients around long-term is to be able to demonstrate the value in real, tangible results.

You need to know the number of leads, sales and revenue that we’re creating.

Most of my agency clients have been with me for over 3 ½ years for one single reason:  we provide value every single month.

6. Change your message and buyer profile ASAP!

It’s time to sharpen up the buyer profile and go much deeper into what they’re thinking. It’s not business as usual and ads that don’t reflect the current economic environment will hurt your brand and fall on deaf ears.

What position is their business in?
What are they doing to adapt, if anything?
Who are they following?
How has this impacted their business?  

Three weeks ago business owners wanted market domination. Today they’re just looking to get paid and find a new client to survive.  The marketing message to your target market has to be radically different than it was 3 weeks ago.

I hope this helps give you clarity and focus in your business. These emails typically take me about 1 hour to create so please share your feedback and let me know how you are going to use these strategies in your business.

Chapter 4: For your eyes only

We are living in crazy times and the winners will be ones who understand how to navigate and adapt to change.

The world will never go back to the way it was March 1. When this pandemic is over there will be a new normal.  

I have 3 very unfair advantages in business that few people have.

1. I am connected to some of the greatest minds in business. 

2. I have started and grown multiple businesses and weathered 9/11 and the 2008 housing crash.

3. I have the ability to analyze data and adjust on the fly.

There is a new level of wealth and influencing that’s being created that will make the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts look like paupers. 

This new wealth is created by the ideas and value you bring to the table.

Let that sink in for a minute. 

If you play video games, think of this as a virtual reset. Everybody is starting from ground zero on level 1. The only thing that determines where you end up is the choices made now.

That’s what determines where you end up in 3, 5, 10, 15 years.

I turn 50 next year. When I think about the bad investments or the amount of money I have lost or wasted it is terrifying. I should own my own tropical island at this point.

Please follow my advice so you don’t have to learn everything the hard way.

99% of businesses are stuck in 2015 when traffic was cheap. You could go straight for the sale on first touch and still make a profit.  

In today’s market your prospects are more educated than the sales team.

One of the reasons they’re deciding to do business with you is the brand resonates with their core beliefs and desires.  

Get this part wrong and you will never make it to the next stage of closing the sale.

Please for the love of kittens and puppy dogs use this time to level up your understanding of who your customers are.  

If you don’t have a customer journey, buyer profile, psychographics, and demographics printed out and hanging on your wall, you will fail. I know about this first hand.  

Your buyer is not the entire C-suite. You need to know the exact person you are selling to. The CEO has to answer to the board and shareholders.

The VP of marketing has to answer to the CEO. They have different fears, desires, and problems. Until you narrow down who the buyer is, you are going to struggle. 

Go one step deeper and find the real pain of why your customer is looking to solve the problem.

Determine what have they done in the past, how did it work out, and why do they still have this problem.

Spend a few hours on this and don’t come up for air until you have it burned into your cerebral cortex like the picture of your mother.

I see a lot of sales and marketing teams fighting over this. Sales blames marketing because the leads don’t close; marketing blames sales because they can’t close.

The bigger problem is they don’t really understand why people are buying past a surface level. When times are good and money is flowing in the corporate coffers, it’s easy to spend. 

Now the corporate belt has been tightened and layoffs are happening. Budgets are being cut. 

The only businesses who will survive and thrive will understand the buyer’s real needs, fears, hopes and desires.

Why should the buyers even do business with you?

It’s your job to create a message that becomes a bridge between their real pain and your solution. 

Nobody wants what you are selling. 

They are deciding to do business with you based on the desired outcome and certainty that you can deliver on that.

Your biggest investment today needs to be updating mindset, marketing materials, branding and your game plan.

Chapter 5: New Facebook & Google Ads

Before this whole pandemic hit Google and Facebook were on the verge of rolling out a number of new ad formats. Google Discovery ads really had me excited.

But here is the problem. With advertisers pulling back causing ads to drop in price, I don’t see Google or Facebook rolling out new ad formats.

Until the demand picks up and CPC goes back to the crazy prices, Google and Facebook are going to limit the available inventory.

That’s also why Facebook and Google are offering grants to small businesses. The grant will be in the form of ad credits. By giving long time advertisers these ad credits they get to raise the CPC and CPM back to a normal baseline. This, in turn, raises the prices for everybody.

Right now we are running ads at CPM’s so low it’s incredible.

Don’t delay; this will not last long. Once Google and Facebook can stop the bleeding, the prices will go way up. So take action now and get your ads running.

You should spend this time revamping your websites, funnels, email follow ups and your ad copy in addition to running ads to build your list and brand.