The global COVID-19 crisis has brought a lot of sudden and drastic change to how businesses do marketing and sales. Your company might be facing moments every leader fears, like staff layoffs, staff shortages, losing customers and/or a higher than usual new deal bounce rate. You could also be on a growth surge, and facing sudden changes in production demand or capacity while having to figure how to work from home. Businesses have to adapt quickly to all the new realities, and so their marketing techniques need to be flexible.
Inbound marketing is an incredibly agile marketing technique. It's designed to understand customers and their needs.
As customer needs change as a result of the crisis or (also as a result of a crisis), if there’s a shift in where the ideal customer looks for information, inbound marketing is flexible enough to follow.
So let’s back up for a minute: Even without a pandemic, a business always has to consider the possibility of recession, and be prepared. The Company Growth Podcast covered how you need to hug your customers tighter than ever right now (listen here); another episode talked about what your sales reps can still do to help your company right now (listen here).
The answer is not to give up or go quiet right now - it’s to find a way to adapt and grow.
3 Ways to Remain Relevant in the COVID-19 Crisis
Is there a reason to keep up marketing and sales at a time when the world of commerce is so uncertain? The answer is simple: Yes! You do it so that you and your product do not become obscure in the world we find ourselves in now - having no idea how long it will last - and when we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, here are three things you can do to stay relevant in (literally) today’s world:
1) Keep right on marketing (and don’t worry too much about selling)
Does marketing without selling sound like the end of a business? In these times, it’s actually key to ensuring you hold onto your prospects and customers through tough times.
Inbound marketing is all about building and maintaining relationships. Since your contacts are already warm to your product, this is easy.
You're contacting people with whom you already have a connection because they’ve already expressed an interest in your product or service. This is very different from (coldly) cold-calling or cold-emailing people to bother them during a time of anxiety.
So, you can continue to nurture your leads and prospects. But change your tone to be genuinely empathetic. Let the potential clients know that you understand that this is a time of uncertainty.
This is also a time for businesses to prove what kind of character they have, beyond the product.
For instance, there are educational software businesses that are stepping up to offer some of their products for free while kids are home from school. This serves to build trust and favour with prospects and customers, which will only serve the business well once the economy bounces back.
2) Make sure your customers know you’re here for them
You can’t even take the presence of customers for granted in the best of times, so in these times, it’s especially important to reach out to them.
Your customers, like everyone, are going through a tough time. It’s important to lean into that vulnerability we’re all feeling, and assure your customer that you’re still there for them…even if they’re pulling back from purchases.
Make sure your customers have what they need, that your product or service still works for them, and that you’ve answered any new questions they may have. And be proactive about it; Don’t wait for your clients to let you know what’s going on with them or if there’s some way that they’re struggling. Check in on them and make sure they’re ok.
In the best of times, attention to customers is part of what keeps the sales flywheel turning: satisfied customers recommend your product to others. In these times, when your customers know you’re there for them, you create positive relationships that will last well beyond the crisis.
3) Take care of, and invest in, your staff
Now more than ever is a time for leaders of businesses to step up and make sure they’re encouraging their staff.
Leaders that focus on employee needs will build loyalty and retention. Now is also a good time to invest in your staff by encouraging employees to upskill; virtual training is easy enough to organize.
Business leaders also need to be humble during a time of crisis; they need to be honest with employees, not just about how the business is doing, but how they themselves are doing. They need to trust that their team is working well from home. Of course there are great technologies for helping you stay connected when working remotely (here’s how Tangible Words ensures this with our clients, for example) and to communicate, and get help for the tasks you’re working on.
A good business leader can ask staff to help them with the kinds of adjustments that need to be made in uncertain times; after all, any collection of people is bound to have some extra collective creativity. Leaders who do this can foster trust.
Ask Your Inbound Marketing Agency to Help You Stay Relevant
As people and businesses get used to being online, and also learn how to create community in a time of social isolation, your inbound marketing agency can help you move beyond crisis mode by addressing potential changes, like:
1) Changing messages
The human to human connection is the most important thing during these times and so your messaging needs to change to reassure your customers that you are still there for them.
The messaging has to reflect the fact that these times are not business as usual, and to acknowledge what people are going through. This is a time to focus on the service you extend to your customers rather than on selling and closing deals.
An inbound marketing agency can help you craft that message.
2) Changing customer profiles
The needs, wants, and questions of your ideal customer will change during a time of crisis. An inbound marketing agency is already on top of keeping track of the ideal customer profile - understanding them, knowing where they look for information and making sure the product information is there - and can continue to update it as it changes.
3) Changing workplace engagement
With all the uncertainty, customers need to feel confident that your efforts on their behalf continue while you, and they, are at home.
Your customers need to see that you’re still there in all the places they’re used to seeing you: your social media channels, your emails and your blog posts.
Your inbound marketing agency can be there to make sure the message is in all the right places.
Bonus are those agencies for whom working remotely is nothing new; they may have some good tips!
Let Your Inbound Marketing Agency Help You Through This Crisis
These days, we’re seeing the real side of people: a CEO who once attended meetings in a suit may now be appearing in a virtual meeting wearing a t-shirt, and with a child on their lap.
As our humanness emerges more, it’s time to lean into human connections. And that’s the stuff of inbound marketing!