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8 Apr 10:00 BST / 05:00 EST

Virtual Reality View: A conversation with VMLY&R's Gracie Page

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Stephen Lepitak
Editor at The Drum
Gracie Page
Emerging Technology Director at VMLY&R London

UK B2B marketers split on whether they can overcome coronavirus pandemic

Image by Mick Haupt via Unsplash

With the Covid-19 pandemic set to land a potentially devastating blow on the UK economy, the country’s B2B marketers are split on whether they’ll be able to find a way to succeed.

Nearly half (45%) of B2B marketers said they way either extremely or pretty confident they know how to achieve success in a country impacted by the coronavirus, according to new data from CogniClick, which surveyed 150 of the UK B2B marketing professionals. However, with only 40% of respondents confident they will receive an ROI on their current marketing campaigns, it’s clear the B2B sector is split, with slightly more of its marketers anticipating difficulties over the months ahead.

When it comes to finding a way to overcome the difficulties of the coronavirus lockdown, the study has pointed to digital being the best solution: 43% of respondents stated that their preference will be around increasing digital activity over the coming months in order to improve results. A further 35% are focusing on marketing and sales alignment, while 15% are dedicating their efforts towards ABM.

Meanwhile, a third of respondents (60%) expect their marketing budgets to be negatively impacted by coronavirus — yet, interestingly, 65% said they would still run scheduled campaigns as originally planned.

The study comes as Caroline Norbury, chief executive officer of the Creative Industries Federation and Creative England, warned that UK prime minister Boris Jonhson’s decision to make social distancing advisory rather than mandatory 'could cripple businesses within the UK’s creative industry."

As the social distancing measures announced are only advisory, rather than an outright ban, we are deeply concerned that creative organisations and cultural spaces will find they are unable to claim compensation for the huge losses they will experience as a result of Covid-19,” she said.

"Public safety remains the top priority for everyone in the creative sector. However, these measures have the potential to devastate the UK’s theatres, museums, cinemas, venues and other cultural spaces reliant on audiences, visitors and participation, as well as the huge array of creators and freelancers who work within these industries."

More than 250 million Europeans are now in full or partial lockdown as Belgium and Germany joined Italy, Spain and France in closing schools and all non-essential shops, and urging – or requiring – people not to leave their homes. On Monday (23 March) UK prime minister Boris Johnson adopted a stricter policy around social distancing throughout the country.

UK chancellor Rishi Sunak recently pledged a £350bn lifeline to help battle the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, including a series of measures designed to help big firms as well as small and medium businesses. However, independent agencies across ad land are still seeking more clarity and assistance from the government. Amelia Torod, co-founder of indie brand consultancy The Fawnbrake Collective, told The Drum that although the financial measures from the government were a great start, they didn’t help a business like her own in “the right ways”.

“The relief was centred around business rates which is not an issue to us as we don't have offices. We don't want to be taking out loans and getting into debt. Small businesses need tax relief and a VAT holiday now,” she said.

“For us it's about how can the government help us minimise our out-goings so that our business can weather this. Already on Wednesday morning (18 March), one client which we had hoped to be working with just announced that they were laying off all 600 staff, so there’s no project for us to work on. When clients don't know if they will have a business in three months’ time, thinking about a brand isn't the priority."

Elsewhere, another piece of research of 160 predominantly US-based marketers discovered that 48% anticipating a reduction in spending, while a more confident 46% expect no change.

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