As B2B analysts, we’ve been asking ourselves whether organizations have been responding to this health crisis in a way that is truly helpful to their customers. Our recently published report, “Messaging In The Time Of COVID-19,” which details our findings after reviewing 60 B2B websites and social accounts across 12 industries, seeks to answer that question.

In this research, we looked at how B2B companies are communicating their response to the coronavirus epidemic. Most response content is intended to be informative and helpful, but many missed clear opportunities to connect in a more meaningful way with customers. When addressing a crisis, marketers tend to fall back on familiar talk tracks related to their products, services, and activities. Our analysis found only a few messages that struck the right empathetic chord or delivered something customers value. Much is focused on “what we are doing”; not enough on “you” and “how we are helping you.”

So here’s how we’re helping you: Like you, we are overwhelmed with customers looking for help and a way out of this mess. We are also trying to weather this storm while preparing for the new normal on the other side. (So empathetic!) Our review focuses on examples, our review criteria, and advice to help you make your COVID-19 communications more empathetic and valuable to your buyers. (So much value!)

As a little preview, here are two questions to ask yourself as you reflect on your pandemic communications and think about future messages:

  1. Is this content sympathetic or empathetic? Both kinds of content acknowledge the severity of the crisis, but empathetic messaging addresses the customer directly, speaks to their immediate issues, and then delivers something they can learn, do, or try without strings attached. In crisis communications, your message tone is just as important as its purpose. It’s not enough to express sympathetic hopes or wishes. You must show your buyers that you understand their new and most pressing concerns.
  2. What are you doing to deliver value? The pandemic caused social and economic disruption, so business buyers are looking for extra value in every interaction or investment. This value could come in the form of additional capabilities, extended free trials, or access to additional support or community resources. Alleviating roadblocks or expediting processes are also helpful ways to deliver value in these trying times.