3 Tips for Generating Leads During a Downturn

Woman standing city street in the rain with a black umbrella

Lead generation is critical to business success, but the tactics need to change when marketing during an economic downturn.

The world has changed dramatically over the past few months, but the expectations for B2B marketers have stayed the same: your company is looking to you to generate leads and keep the pipeline full.

While it’s unquestionably a challenge to market in a downturn, it’s not an impossible task. In fact, there may even be a silver lining hiding in that threatening-looking cloud. (If you could use a dose of optimism, read “Why Now Is a Good Time for B2B Marketers to Focus on Lead Generation.”) 

Marketers are rapidly learning to adapt to a new reality, and that includes rethinking our lead generation strategies. Successfully attracting and cultivating leads during a time when many business budgets are shrinking requires marketers to explore new tactics, proceed carefully, and play a longer game to attract and nurture leads. These three tips can help you realign your marketing efforts with the needs of your market in a downturn and help you improve your lead-gen capabilities during these rapidly changing times.

1. Make Relationships—Not Sales—Your Goal

Being subjected to a hard sell can be trying at the best of times: when your budget is being cut and your colleagues furloughed or let go, it's positively obnoxious. It doesn't mean that marketing and sales needs to grind to a halt. It just means that the approach has to be recalibrated to fit the mood. Leads may not be ready to buy right now, but they are desperate for help, whether that's fresh ideas, best practices, or free resources. Spruce up your best top-of-funnel and thought-leadership content and look for ways to support your community. If you focus on demonstrating your value without monetizing it now, you'll reap the rewards in future when budgets start loosening up.

2. Know How to Read the Signals

While budgets have never been tighter, companies ARE still spending. But those opportunities are fewer and farther apart, which means that it's more important than ever to be able to identify them when they come up. This is where time spent tightening up your lead-scoring processes will deliver a big pay-off, as will the integration of intent data through platforms such as Leadfeeder or Bombora. By developing a clearer picture of what it looks like when a lead is ready to convert, you can mobilize faster and more effectively to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

3. Focus on Sales Support and Enablement

At a time when marketing budgets are being slashed, it's important for marketing to stay close to revenue. Focusing on sales enablement is a great way to support revenue generation and demonstrate marketing's revenue impact. Just as important, your sales team needs you: a survey conducted by a sales recruiting firm in mid-April found that more than 15% of salespeople had been laid off due to COVID-19 and more than 45% did not feel confident about their job security. 

Marketing/sales alignment is a favorite topic here at DemandLab (we've covered it here, here, here, and here) and it's a muscle that every business needs to flex now that sales teams are actively reinventing their processes and redefining what high-touch, personalized outreach looks like in a digital-only world.

Get a Head Start on the Upturn

The only good thing about a downturn is that it's usually followed by an upturn. By being smart about lead generation now, marketers can help their organizations stay relevant during the tough times, stay connected to their markets, and emerge in a position of strength to take advantage of the better times to come.

About the Author

Hayden Jackson

Hayden is DemandLab's Director of Content Strategy. She has 20 years of in-house and agency experience in marketing communications and content marketing. Her areas of focus include content strategy, content creation, and content performance. She helps clients deliver content experiences that engage the company's target audiences and align with its business goals.

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