Marketing is all about messaging. It is about brand promotion and meeting customers where they are. These days, people are stuck at home in self-isolation as we collectively attempt to defeat COVID-19. Does that mean we marketers stop doing what we do? Absolutely not. It only means that we adjust our strategies to account for current circumstances.
As you might have guessed, digital marketing is now more important than ever before. Now is the perfect time to seize those digital marketing opportunities you have been thinking about but have not yet acted on. Now is the time to develop new digital marketing strategies as well.
Shifting to B2B Clients
Business-to-business (B2B) organizations tend to put a ton of their marketing resources into live events. They invest in conferences, trade shows, and the like. Well, those live events are now virtually extinct. Those who would have attended them are stuck at home. This is an excellent opportunity for digital marketing.
Efforts that would have gone into public events can now be directed toward digital marketing. Those same B2B clients can be targeted via social media, blogs, guest posts, and videos. Buyers can learn about products and services online in the absence of trade shows and conventions.
Plan for Different Scenarios
The most successful marketers in the 21st century rely on customer personas to give them an idea of what target audiences are thinking. Let us take that to the next level and apply it to digital marketing in the COVID-19 era. Rather than customer personas, think customer scenarios.
Imagine the marketing team taking a good look at every customer and every active campaign. Imagine them considering multiple scenarios for each one. In a best-case scenario, one client is likely to do X. A worst-case scenario would probably cause another customer to do Y or Z.
Developing customer scenarios allows for better planning. It also allows for responding more quickly when those scenarios do play out.
Work to Build Trust
Times of crisis tend to erode consumer trust in brands. Perhaps this is because their trust in government and institutions is also eroded. However, marketers do not have to stand pat and allow that erosion to continue. During times of crisis, marketers should be working harder than ever to build trust.
How do you do that? By developing customer-centric marketing campaigns and backing them up with unparalleled customer service that makes people feel valued. Right now, the most important marketing messages align closely with traditional family values. When we begin to emerge from COVID-19, customers will be looking for more positive messages that speak of the importance of local, small businesses.
Companies with voice of the customer (VoC) programs already in place should listen extra carefully to what customers are saying about their circumstances. The absence of a VoC program should be all the motivation companies need to develop one.
Accommodate Operational Changes
There is an old industry joke about marketers promising the sun, moon, and stars without any regard to how such promises are kept. Marketers cannot afford for that joke to have any basis in reality while we struggle with the COVID-19 crisis. They must accommodate operational changes in their messaging.
In short, messaging should not promise what a company cannot deliver. There are going to be supply chain disruptions for the foreseeable future. There are going to be layoffs and staffing shortages. Cash flow is going to be reduced. All of this points to marketers having to temper their messaging so that they are not promoting unrealistic expectations.
By the same token, digital marketers have the opportunity to combine their messaging with additional messages of hope. They can use social media channels to share positive information and encourage people to hang in there. They can let customers know that, despite operational changes, all will eventually return to normal.
Concentrate on Content
More than ever before, marketers should be concentrating their efforts on creating the best possible content. More people being stuck at home means more opportunities to reach a larger audience. But it also means more marketers competing for the same audience. As such, strive to do more than just create content. Strive to create compelling content.
Compelling content does not have to be controversial, scientific, or academic. It can be anything from lighthearted encouragement to thoughtful analysis. What makes content compelling are those characteristics that make people want to consume it.
This is one area in which digital marketers have struggled for years. Many marketers are particularly good at understanding audiences and choosing marketing channels. They are not so good at actually creating compelling content. There is a solution, though: turn to professional content creators.
Content creation specialists are more important now than ever before. As marketers embrace the digital arena, they need the assistance of those who know how to create compelling content. This is no time to keep things in-house.
Ramp up Social Media Campaigns
Hand-in-hand with compelling content is social media. Those of us in the digital marketing sector have known of the power of social media for years. Now those companies that have pretty much avoided digital marketing have to be brought into the fold. They have to be introduced to Facebook, YouTube, etc.
Never forget that people put a lot of stock in social media impressions. What impresses one person gets shared to dozens or hundreds of others. With every share, the audience multiplies exponentially. Thus, it should be obvious that social media marketing should be a priority right now.
As the months pass, we will see gradually more social media competition among the major political campaigns. Just five months from now, we will hopefully not be talking about COVID-19 any longer. We will be talking about presidential politics. Now is the time to seize the opportunity to get into social media and start promoting one’s brand.
COVID-19 has certainly changed the way marketers do business. It is turning brand attentions from non-digital marketing to digital spaces. It is up to us to make the most of it.