To survive and thrive in a post-COVID economy, global marketing organizations need to be more resilient than ever. Unforeseen changes and worldwide disruptions require marketers to respond at a moment’s notice. That means they need the ability to quickly and effectively shift course to address new realities on the ground — weekly, daily and sometimes even hourly.
As marketers, we are now faced with very hard questions: How aggressively should we be engaging with prospects and customers? Should we be rolling out more remote conferences and webinars as a replacement for in-person events? What’s the best way to engage with colleagues across the business to ensure everyone is on the same page?
Marketers are very much on the front lines in this time of crisis. How we react can set the tone for the entire business going forward. In the face of unprecedented change, here are five ways marketers can mitigate risk, better serve customers and come out stronger in the end.
- Be helpful.
First and foremost, ensure your overall messaging is valuable and relevant to your prospects and customers. However, avoid using exploitative or insensitive language that may undermine your empathetic intent. Your company’s messaging should demonstrate an understanding of your audience’s immediate needs during these uncertain times, such as offerings applicable to a remote workforce or extended payment terms.
For example, here at LogicMonitor, a subset of our cloud platform helps businesses maintain the performance of work-from-home technologies. This benefit is now front and center within our messaging and offered as a free trial.
Also, take a moment to consider how your go-to-market efforts will be perceived by customers. As a rule of thumb, we ask ourselves if our messages and communication are helpful to our customers. Keep in mind that circumstances are radically different than they were just two months ago, so what you originally planned for 2020 is not necessarily the best course of action today. That means you have to question all previous assumptions and develop thoughtful messaging that better addresses this new reality and connects more authentically with prospects or customers.
- Be credible.
Highlight positive online reviews about your company to showcase your credibility. New research from PowerReviews found that reviews are becoming even more critical in the COVID-19 era, with consumers interacting with review content at double the rate they were before the pandemic. Bazaarvoice, a former employer of mine and another provider of consumer review solutions, noted a 25% increase in page views in March among its network of more than 6,200 brands and retailers, as shelter-in-place shopping became the new norm.
It’s not a secret that consumers rely on online reviews before making purchase decisions, and the same is true with business-to-business (B2B) buyers in places like G2 Crowd, Gartner Peer Insights and TrustRadius. If your business has a steady stream of positive reviews, market them on your website and across digital platforms to attract consumers to your business. This can help provide prospects with the validation and social proof points they need, which can help increase your conversions.
The easiest way to get reviews? Just ask. We use our community platform and advisory network to request public user feedback.
- Be patient.
Don’t give up on your leads. The new economic reality of COVID-19 suggests buyers may not currently have the means or ability to purchase. Just because prospects are more restricted in their purchasing behaviors does not mean they are disinterested in your products or services.
Establish an effective lead-nurturing strategy to ensure your company or product remains competitive post-crisis. This can be achieved through timely follow-ups on leads with a sequence of relevant resources until they are ready to have a sales conversation.
- Be agile.
Since the crisis started, we have been monitoring business operations at a higher frequency than ever to make sure we are investing appropriately with the market. This means we’re looking at our funnel and pipeline metrics multiple times a week and are focused on channels where we can pivot quickly, such as digital, while keeping core integrated campaigns and awareness plays in place.
For example, like many organizations, we have canceled or paused all in-person events, including large trade shows and small, intimate events like dinners with customers and prospects. But this means we need other marketing efforts to augment our demand generation efforts.
When you have to adjust your budget and plan, strive to understand what the return on the investment will be and prioritize tactics with known return (such as paid search), over tactics with unknown return (such as a trade event that has gone virtual for the first time).
- Be targeted.
Account-based marketing has been a hot space in B2B marketing for several years, and this crisis has made targeted marketing programs and persona-based messages even more important.
Now is not the time to sell into struggling companies, even with what you may consider a mission-critical product or solution. Instead, focus your efforts on companies and verticals that have been less impacted. This is especially important now, as sensitivity is high and delivering appropriate messages and relevant content is at a premium.
In these trying times, marketers cannot afford to execute under the status quo of operating plans that were developed in their annual planning cycle in late 2019 (Was that really only two quarters ago?). The best marketers were already constantly rethinking how to better operate and communicate. But during “The Great Pause,” this is no longer just the domain of top performers — it is a ticket to entry.
Marketing teams that can deftly adapt to these new circumstances will play a critical role in helping their organizations weather the storm and emerge stronger and more customer-focused and value-oriented once the worst is over.
This article is written by Stephen Tarleton and originally published here