We recognise that our target customers are not necessarily where we expect them to be or behaving in a way that we’re accustomed to.
Sentiment is changing by the hour and is significantly different by region. Virtual meetings and demo’s are replacing in-person contact. PPC conversion rates are fluctuating wildly. The effectiveness of outbound marketing is on the decline, and the hard-sell is a serious no-no.
We need to experiment and rapidly review and adapt our marketing strategy, tactics and how we engage our target audience. There is greater emphasis on giving value and finding the right balance between short-term lead generation and longer-term brand consideration.
Let’s look at ways to adapt and experiment.
Have your customers’ needs changed?
Yes, they have most likely shifted. Influenced by the current crisis and changes to their own demand patterns. Business strategies, market and competitive dynamics are all shifting.
Many businesses have seen the number of individuals and complexity of the decision-making process increasing, as laser focus is put on cash and budgets.
If your audience needs have changed then:
- Talk to them. Find out what’s important to them now and deliver it. It’s not about trying to persuade that your product is what they need.
- Invest in your product and in customer research. Create differentiation, faster than your competitors. Accelerate product releases if possible. Pivot.
- Audit your existing content. Refresh content so it remains relevant to the current environment. Break longer pieces into shorter snippets, gather quotes.
- Build an effective plan for creating and sharing content and engaging with your target audience.
- Be consistent in your message and the value you offer – now more than ever ensure this is focused on what your buyers’ need.
What happens when sales volumes drop, purchase cycles lengthen or revenue stalls? How can you stay on the front foot and respond quickly to the situation?
Reallocate funds to strengthening existing relationships, especially if acquisition costs have become uneconomic. Have a clear contact strategy for understanding and engaging them.
Enhanced support, price freezes, promotions for extended contract terms or free trial of adjacent services are tactical ways to engage existing customers.
What is the age and status of your existing pipeline? Can you help sales close those deals? Create a tactical toolkit of lower value ‘deal-closers’ or for larger deals provide real-time target account insight and highly personalised messages to aid sales negotiations.
Take a hard look at inefficiencies in your digital, martech, content and overall mix. If it’s not working now is the time to change the mix and pivot your investment to other areas such as brand building and retention.
Test, Fail, Learn, Repeat
There is one thing which no amount of data or machine learning can replicate and that is the human instinct… the gut feeling that tells you something feels like the right thing to do, even if you don’t have ‘evidence’ to
substantiate it. Don’t be afraid to trust it!
Be clear what you want to achieve
“If we look back to past downturns, companies that took a long-term view and invested in growth did the best during recovery” (Michael Betz, McKinsey Consultant to CMOs).
Be agile today and remain more agile in the future
The pivot is your friend – whether that’s your product, a promotion, a piece of content or a marketing channel. If it’s not working – stop, fix, re-start.
We have never seen anything like the Covid-19 crisis before. If you’re a leader, foster a culture that encourages people to try new things and to accept mistakes or things going wrong. Those who are agile and adapt quickly have the best change of succeeding in the long run.