We all have recently entered uncharted times, in both our personal and professional lives. While our country has faced challenges before, most of us have never taken on such an unusual and formidable foe as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It seems like the only certain thing right now is uncertainty. Even though our everyday lives have become a very not normal routine, we must keep moving forward and be grateful that many B2B industries can still operate and even be successful because they offer the digital platforms the world needs right now to work remotely.
Author Zig Ziglar once said, “Stop selling. Start helping.” It is essential during these uncertain times to keep in mind, now is not the time for messaging that reads like a sales pitch. We will all need to rethink how we go about our messaging in the next week, month and three months out. We have laid out the 4 Rs of compassion communication to reevaluate, reschedule, rewrite and reunify/reassess; this will help you prepare your content during this time.
Most of us live on schedule, calendars and milestones. More than likely, your organization’s marketing plan is fully scheduled for the next 30 days, and probably the next six months to a year. While we all make room for small disruptions in our marketing calendar, nothing is quite as unprecedented as COVID-19.
There are a wide array of B2B companies in the market today, each with its own set of unique offerings and abilities. Revisit your company’s messaging and positioning and focus on how your product or service can help in the current circumstances. For example, does your product or service make working remote more convenient, secure and/or enhances performance? Now is the time to tailor your content to highlight how your company can help others during the current circumstances.
Business and customer strategy will become vital as you start to communicate with your customers, prospects and general audiences. Now could be a time to evaluate if you are able to offer any discount, promotion or other financial assistance to current clients. It is also a great time to consider free trials and promotions for new customers.
You and your team put a lot of care into laying out how your marketing campaigns would fall over 2020. It’s been carefully crafted to meet sales goals, generate the right market awareness and targeted for key dates. While COVID-19 brings an unexpected cog in your plan, that doesn’t mean you have to scrap everything and start over.
First, implement a new 4-week content calendar that addresses the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation. There are numerous resources to help you create a content calendar if you need a refresher or need someone on your team to help that is not as familiar with creating one. Review your current content calendar and identify the key milestones that were planned in the next few weeks and months. You’ll need to strategize which campaigns can move and what timeline makes the most sense for them. You’ll also need to determine which content can be rewritten and still go out in the first few weeks.
- Week one’s focus should be on caring, shared empathy and offers of help. Review your marketing plans, content and social calendars.
- Week two should address the pain points of your audience and how your product or service can help. Assess which of your campaigns still make sense to send during this time and move out the ones that don’t.
- In week three, reassess the situation happening in both your company and on the world stage. Begin rewriting the campaigns that you can send now.
- During week four, keep an eye on current circumstances and start to operate under the new normal.
As stated in the previous section, any communications going out within the first few weeks of the onset of COVID-19 should read as a message of compassion first. If you have not yet done that, don’t worry, it’s not too late to start. It is advised not to slip in a sales message or CTA. Trying too hard or soft sell at this point could come off unfavorably with your audience and hinder your efforts. You are simply marketing a message of care and concern. If your company decided they can offer a financial promotion or extend other types of help in the situation, you could make that part of your communication.
After you’ve reevaluated your messaging and positioning to see how you could focus your content, your team should start to craft content on how your company’s product or service can help. Zoom is an example of a B2B SaaS platform that has taken steps to keep their audiences thoughtfully informed, while still marketing their solutions. Prospects and customers will respond to the organizations that identify with what they are going through and help them meet the challenges they face.
Are you using personalization in your marketing? If you are not, now is a great time to start. Studies have found numerous benefits to personalizing marketing, including the top five benefits of personalization which are: increased visitor engagement (55%), improved customer experience (55%), improved brand perception (39%), increased conversion rates (51%) and increased lead generation and customer acquisition (46%). So, personalize your COVID messages. It adds a personal touch that is appreciated now more than ever.
4. Reunify and Reassess.
Come together, albeit virtually, and keep coming together as a team on a consistent, possibly daily, basis. Because these are uncertain times, your plans and messaging may need to change more than once. It is imperative that leaders demonstrate flexibility and ask their team to do the same. Keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening in the world and in your company, as well as the needs of your audience and your team. Reassess each week the current conditions, tactics, metrics and messages and adjust them as needed to help your company move forward and continue to produce content that compels and enlightens your audience.
The COVID-19 pandemic will not change the foundations of marketing, but the fundamentals will just need to be adjusted to meet the current situation. To get a sense of what other marketers are doing, AdAge put a list together tracking marketers’ responses to coronavirus. While we know this is an unexpected disruption to business as usual, how we face these challenges can help build our teams and our companies. Great leaders can step-up and use this as an opportunity to guide their team and company. Uniting regularly as a team and navigating through these tough times together can help provide many with the stability of work and knowledge they are providing value. To paraphrase author Shane Koyczan, if your marketing plan is now broken, create better marketing with the pieces.
Is your business uncertain of how to restructure your marketing messaging to face the current circumstances? Or how to rebuild your marketing plans? We are here to help.