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Moving Business Forward in This Unprecedented Time
As news about the Coronavirus continues to flood our feeds and closure announcements seem to hit our inbox by the hour, many businesses are left trying to figure out what to do next. There is still so much about the state of business that is up in the air.
At a time like this, many marketers go to their agency partner looking for guidance. There is already a lot of information out there about health and safety precautions you can take, so this is not that type of article. We’re here to offer you something helpful about moving forward, not to restate what everyone else has already said.
The state of business is — and has been — moving towards a remote working culture. In recent years, companies around the globe have been improving technology to enable working remotely. Simantel included. In fact, we already have a full-time remote staff that works from home all over the country. As we all start to practice social distancing in this strange time, marketers are already in a good state to continue working together — without actually working together.
So, our advice: Business doesn’t have to stop. Instead, look for new opportunities and ways to pivot.
We are already seeing some amazing things happening right now. Quick thinking brands are identifying timely and meaningful opportunities. We’ve seen utility companies extending service if bills aren’t paid on time, popular museums nationwide offering free virtual tours, restaurants and grocery stores offering free lunch for kids who are out of school and streaming services releasing new content earlier than expected to help ward off cabin fever.
But while there may be immediate opportunities that arise, we urge you to think beyond just the next two weeks. So, without further ado, here are a few ideas to keep working toward your marketing goals during this time.
Where to Start?
Before jumping the gun and putting a halt to all work, hold on and take a breath. Don’t do anything rash; instead, take inventory of everything you have live. Look at all your paid media ads, your emails already scheduled to go out, content in the works and scheduled social posts.
During this audit, look specifically at messaging. Ask yourself: Is it still relevant and appropriate? Start by marking items with “good to remain,” “needs adjusting” or “take down completely.” Then, just start working through your list and pivot where needed.
More than anything right now, we urge marketers to turn off autopilot. Innovative thinking is needed more than ever in a time of crisis.
Next, Identify Opportunities.
Now that you’ve hit the pause button and taken inventory, it’s time to look for ways to pivot your marketing and deliver something that is meaningful and timely to customers.
- Provide a valuable message. Take the time to truly understand the emotions of your customers right now. They are changing more rapidly than usual. What are they seeing, hearing and doing? What are they thinking and feeling? How can we as marketers provide value and support in a way that is relevant to the world right now?
- Don’t just evaluate the next two to six weeks. We suggest taking a look at all your projects slated for 2020. Are there operational changes in your business that are going to impact your team’s marketing plans? Although none of us can predict what long-term impact this will have on business yet, we can stay in close contact with partners now and communicate about any shifts.
- Focus on education. And we don’t necessarily mean self-study. While yes, that is important and will likely be on the rise as more businesses go to a full remote workforce, we’re actually talking about providing more educational tools for your customers. Evaluate your content calendar for March and April and see how you can increase the amount of educational content being created. In the short-term, do you have any existing product education videos? Are they still relevant, and can they be repurposed? Also, look for opportunities to take your educational content to the next level. Think about implementing online training programs using a platform where you can build a curriculum and track engagement.
- Hit that to-do list. Consider conducting that time-intensive research you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had time for. From online surveys to phone interviews, there are already so many measures in place to conduct primary research remotely. The research you conduct now can help you work toward building personas to set you up in the long run to identify more opportunities.
- Work on relationship building. Now is a good time to keep up with your contacts and focus on relationship building. Drop your partners an email or give them a call to check in. Think about the people in your network that you are not actively doing business with right now. Focus on building the relationships that are difficult to keep up with because of the pace of business.
- And lastly, consider doing something good. There are many in need right now. Consider how your brand can provide relief in these trying times and help make a positive impact. For example, as schools across the country are closing, Zoom’s CEO announced that they are giving K-12 schools their video conferencing tools for free to help continue education across the country.
How to Move Beyond Meetings
In an already remote culture, it’s easy to set up a call-in line for your meeting. We do it every day. But in the near future, it will be essential to find ways to collaborate beyond the conference call. For one, consider actually turning on the camera during your call. We sometimes try to avoid the dreaded camera, but in the coming days of isolation, being able to “read the room” will be beneficial. Also, add a webinar series to the content calendar, and make sure to build in time at the end for a live Q&A round.
But most importantly, remember that as goals start to shift, communication and alignment are going to be crucial. On a regular day, alignment can be difficult. Taking a pause now and allowing the time to re-align on new goals, priorities and immediate to-do’s will be well worth the time spent. A typical Simantel workshop is either a half day or full day of fully immersive collaboration with no distractions. And this collaboration doesn’t have to stop, either; we can conduct these workshops digitally, too.
No matter how you decide to move your business forward in the coming weeks, ask for feedback. Allow ways for input, both directly and indirectly. Think about implementing forms, surveys and new processes for direct outreach. Heightened communication will be essential.
What We Expect to See Next
As we’ve already witnessed, things are changing and progressing rapidly. At a time like this, marketing and communications are necessary. Some businesses may be expecting a slowdown in work, but to be honest, Simantel is expecting an uptick — particularly in strategy. Evaluate what’s necessary, what is performing and what’s not, look at performance and work through how to produce something that is relevant for your audience right now.
And lastly, remain patient and empathetic. To your coworkers, your customers and…really just everybody. This is uncharted territory for us all. Simantel is here for our clients, and we’re committed to helping you move your business forward. These may be uncertain times, but we’re certain we will all make it through by working together and looking out for one another. Stay safe, friends.