We’re seeing a number of data points that show how consumers are beginning to look forward, and as business leaders, we should be doing the same.

Over the past several weeks, your time has understandably been monopolized as you worked quickly to adapt. Balancing staff and resource allocations, supporting customers and trying to weigh short term survival decisions with long-term growth strategy have taken center stage. But now it’s time to get serious about taking a proactive approach to your marketing plan. Here’s why:

  • Buyers are searching for answers and are more open to new solutions. Many also have more time due to canceled travel and events. This is your chance to get in front of them and be the solution they’re looking for.
  • Your competitors may be weakened or distracted, giving you a great opportunity to step in and gain share of voice as competitors pull back.
  • Sales is grounded. They need your help to pivot to a digital world. Help them by investing in your digital marketing efforts.
  • Marketing and PR is both more targeted and more cost effective right now: Ad costs have gone down across many digital channels, and the best agency partners are doubling down on client support. Agencies are also better positioned to handle today’s spikes and valleys in demand and can plug into any team to provide high quality and fast go-to-market resources.

Leaning into marketing must happen quickly, but your strategy can still be smart and focused. Use these four concepts to guide your more proactive marketing approach.

Be more customer-driven than ever

Buyer behavior is shifting more quickly and dramatically than most of us have seen in our lifetime. What’s most valuable to customers now may be entirely different than it was a few weeks ago.

Conduct a market research exercise with current clients to figure out what they need and where your products and company stack up. Then, proactively meet them where they are and articulate how you can support their needs now and as they evolve over time. Customers want to know you’ve got their back. It may not be what you’re delivering today, or even what you expect, but chances are you’ll uncover opportunities to support new priorities.

Our client Netspend recently embraced this idea after learning that some customers were struggling to pay out tips to delivery drivers due to a shortage of cash.

As pizza franchises and other delivery food services have seen a surge in demand, they’ve also seen an increase in contactless payments and a corresponding decline in the use of cash, including for tips. This puts franchisees in a pinch when closing out a driver’s pay at the end of a shift. Netspend made a quick pivot to drive awareness of their cashless payroll and tipping solutions simply by spreading the word online, on social media and arming their sales team with updated sales materials that speak to a great solution for restaurants focused on delivery.

Market what is most helpful right now

People are open to new solutions because they have new, unanticipated problems to solve. Your pre-pandemic message may be totally irrelevant at the moment or may even sound insensitive or tone deaf given current circumstances. If you haven’t already, stop or adjust any automated campaigns that won’t resonate and could even offend.

This strategy can also quickly clear up any prioritization questions you’ve been wrangling with. The market is telling you what matters. Listen, and shift resources, strategy and energy to the solutions that customers urgently need.

KO Law Firm, a corporate and commercial law firm we work with, began leveraging their legal expertise to provide regular updates on several of the most pressing legal implications of the coronavirus. They’re covering everything from emerging contract issues due to COVID-19, to who is eligible to receive government relief funds, how the funds can be used and how to follow guidelines for loan forgiveness. By providing thought leadership beyond their current client base, they’re raising brand awareness and attracting new businesses who have an immediate need for these specific services.

Feeling like there’s a mismatch between your primary offerings and what matters right now? Then it’s time to reframe what you offer. We’ve created a COVID messaging and positioning accelerator to help brands adjust to quickly put the most relevant message in market. Look at your capabilities and ask how you can repackage or reposition them to solve a new or more pressing problem that aligns with current market paradigms.

If this feels impossible, consider how you can change your pricing model or how you bundle your products. This may be the opportunity you’ve been needing to make a service available in a different way or run promotional pricing.

It is also the time to consider what else you can do to support customers, your stakeholders or community. We’ve already seen many heartwarming and creative examples of this across the country that are helping companies to keep more people on the job, while addressing critical needs for first responders and others. Brands, like our client Blackhawk Network, are adjusting their message to let consumers know how their solutions can provide support for family and community.

This is about vision and flexibility to invent or reinvent. You can be sure that competitors are looking for ways to innovate, and companies that didn’t exist a month ago will begin emerging to address unmet needs. Can you evolve to remain relevant?

Focus on sales enablement 

Now is the time to really double down on your digital marketing efforts to support your grounded sales team. Their world changed overnight too, but many were unprepared to adapt. Marketing must step in and provide support and resources that facilitate online engagement and lead to more remote meetings. 

Marketing has the opportunity to showcase how digital channels can support and propel sales long-term, and you have a captive audience ready to hear it. Redirect your unspent trade show or travel budget into smart, relevant content that that can be the key to landing their next zoom meeting. Push your latest PR wins to the sales team in easy to cut and paste emails and social posts. When they start to see their LinkedIn engagement shoot up and get new requests from prospects for more ebooks and white papers, you will get converts for life.

Remember too that your sales team is your window into constantly changing market dynamics. Stay in regular communication so that you can continue to refine your message and your offerings going forward.

Re-prioritize your prospects

This is two-fold. First take a fresh look at your leads and identify those who share a need that can be solved by your current (newly revamped) offerings.

Re-engage with these best-fit prospects in a way that feels both timely and personalized, even if you can’t communicate one-to-one. Personalizing even just a little bit – in this case recognizing the situation they’re faced with and proposing a solution that resonates with their current needs – goes a long way toward building credibility and trust.

Trial behavior is also having a bit of a moment right now. For most brands, getting prospects to demo or trial a product is a huge step forward in the sales funnel, and many businesses are seeing an uptick in trial behavior now. If it makes sense to include a trial offer in your outreach, update your messaging and communications strategy to lead with it.

Next, revisit past prospects that didn’t turn into a win. Regardless of why they fizzled out in the past, their needs are now changing by the minute. Work with sales to reevaluate your funnel for the past quarter or two to determine which prospects are worth re-engaging today.

No matter which version of your 2020 plan you’re on, speed and flexibility will continue to be fundamental to everything you do. The changes you’re making today may be the most dramatic and happen most quickly, but they are the only the beginning of what will be a long and continuous evolution in a forever-changed marketplace.

Amidst it all, we must never forget that our buyers are people who are navigating their own unprecedented daily circumstances, so communicate with empathy and be helpful. It will pay dividends down the road.

Ready to reposition your key services to accelerate your marketing plan? We have a plan to get to the heart of your most impactful marketing messages. Get it here.

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