There is no doubt that life is going to look a little bit different coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen medical professionals turn to telemedicine, elementary school students begin eLearning, and even fine dining restaurants start delivering food through Uber Eats. Each of these examples has one common thread; they adapted their business model utilizing existing technology platforms. Agile businesses that can make these kinds of on-the-fly adjustments will be the ones that thrive. However, it’s not just about taking your business model and working it into a virtual environment.
Now more than ever, you need to connect with your prospects, even while losing many of the outreach channels that you are accustomed to relying on. In the advent of social distancing, you likely have lost much of your outreach from industry events, tradeshows, live education, in-person product demonstrations, and face to face interactions. So, how do you go about connecting with your customers and building the top of the funnel during times of such uncertainly?
Re-Evaluate Your Marketing Plan
In times of worry, marketing must become the guiding light for the organization. Marketing defines who your audience is, how you communicate with them, and what your message is. Marketing drives demand generation; therefore, now a critical time to re-evaluate your marketing plan and how you fill the top of the funnel. This includes revisiting and refocusing your practices for email marketing, lead segmentation, and lead nurturing, as well as reviewing the buyer’s journey and CRM/Marketing automation tools.
Make Sure Your Messaging Is Relevant and on Point
As businesses move into a new heavily technology-dependent status quo, demand generation becomes less about how you communicate but more about what message you are trying to convey. Too often, you are focused on talking about your offering rather than how you address your customer’s needs. Take this time to understand your customer’s core needs, pain points, and value drivers. From there, build out your messaging architecture and sales pitches. Use the messaging architecture to drill down within your target audience (i.e., Executive vs. Manager vs. End User) and deliver a customized message that addresses their particular needs or relieves a significant pain-point. You will find that not only will your prospects increase, but so will your lead quality and level of engagement.
Develop a Plan for Content Creation
Many marketers today still view their content marketing program as a “nice to have.” These programs are often unorganized, disconnected, and constrained by the internal stakeholder agendas rather than being relevant to their customer’s needs. This becomes a challenge to marketers as digital content becomes the cornerstone for effective demand generation.
Work with your sales and marketing teams to develop and measure your content strategy. To do this, you will need to align around a set of goals or guiding principles. These goals will need to identify a specific purpose, format, channel, timing, and audience. Next, research your customers; understand their core needs, pain points, and value drivers. Stay in your lane; focus on your niche and industry. Veering off-topic will cost you leads through unsubscribes and decreased engagement! Finally, measure your results and make adjustments based on subscriber feedback. Having a robust content strategy will set you apart, help you build brand awareness, and draw in new, engaged prospects.
Create a Virtual Community
As you become more and more isolated through social distancing and self-quarantine, you start to lose touch with your colleagues, prospects, and customers. Now is the time to start creating virtual communities centered around the core needs, pain-points, and value drivers of your prospects. This could be as simple as hosting a webinar, starting a LinkedIn group, a series of blog posts, or even hosting an online event. While your competitors continue to isolate themselves, now is the time to surround yourself with colleagues, prospects, and customers.
Join SBI’s Virtual Community for “Executive Readiness and Planning” to see how it works.
Don’t Stop Advertising
In unpredictable market conditions, companies instinctively pull back on their advertising spend. However, when your competitors are pulling back, this is the time when you should be spending. The cost of advertising is down, and you’re able to accelerate product awareness and quickly build brand recognition. Digital advertising becomes increasingly more important because of the lost outreach resulting from canceled industry events, trade shows, live demonstrations, and other in-person experiences. In the loss of these events, consider reallocation of your budget to improve digital outreach and advertising.
During times of uncertainty, your sales pipeline can evaporate rather quickly. This is when you need to turn your focus toward giving. Helping your prospects and customers during their most significant times of need help foster stronger relationships and goodwill that, more often than not, pay dividends down the road. This could be as simple as offering unsolicited free advice, sharing an article relevant to their challenges, inviting them into your virtual community, providing them with a white paper, or just a friendly ear to listen.
Although our industries and focuses vary from business to business, remember that we’re all in this together and will overcome these challenging times. Take this time to better understand your customer’s challenges and make adjustments to accommodate them. Don’t let social distancing isolate your company from your prospects and customers. When executed properly, these demands generating opportunities combined with traditional best practices will position you to rebound successfully and better engage with your prospects as we usher in the new “normal.”
Take this time to connect with your peers and share best practices in SBI’s LinkedIn Group, “Inspire Others,” as we navigate these unprecedented times together.
If you found this post valuable, in a recent article, my colleague Austin Kline addresses 5 key points for adapting to selling in a virtual era. If you have any questions or need some advice on building the top of the funnel, please feel free to reach out to me or submit a question to our Revenue Growth Help Desk.