The recent global crisis has left us in uncharted – certainly turbulent – waters in our personal and business lives. This difficult time is driving us all to review how we operate as businesses and communities.
Here in the UK, at the time of writing, we’re at the early stages of dramatic changes that we’ve had to make and it’s unclear what is to come and for how long it’s going to be before we return to some form of normality.
Therefore, it would be easy to have a knee-jerk reaction, batten down the hatches and cut all your spend, but that would be entirely the wrong thing to do.
There’s a saying that ‘when times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad you MUST advertise.’ (Replace the word advertise with market)
There are many examples of companies that took the bull by the horns and invested heavier in their marketing during hard times:
Kellogg’s, in the 1920s, threw itself at radio to launch its “Snap Crackle & Pop” ad for the new Rice Krispies cereal and grew its profits by 30%*
Pizza Hut and Taco Bell increased their spend during the 1990-91 recession and saw impressive growth, versus McDonald’s who dropped their budget and saw a loss of sales of 28%*
But, right now, whilst everyone is panicking and are understandably worried about their livelihoods, they may not be thinking about buying your goods and services.
Rather than go into hibernation and cancel all of your Google Ads and marketing, it’s important that you switch track. Concentrate on offering help and support through these difficult times, rather than lead generation and sales conversions.
When we get through this, and we will, you’ll want to be remembered as the company that was there to help and the one that offered guidance and support, irrespective of sales and profits.
Think about how you can best serve your customers, audience, and contacts, even if it isn’t your core business.
From an inbound marketing perspective, think about the content that you are publishing – and you’ll want to step this up. Is it genuinely helpful and useful to the people reading it? Does it give the message that you genuinely care about helping them through their situation? Are you giving the impression that you really want to support rather than just sell to them?
We’ve always advocated diving deep into your buyer personas – really understanding their goals and aspirations, as well as their challenges, problems, and fears. With this knowledge, you can then create content that is genuinely insightful and helpful.
All of a sudden, these things have changed. Customers will have different challenges and problems to overcome, and you can bet that their fear level will be ten times greater. Speak to your clients. Find out about their current line of thinking and what contingencies that they’ve put in place.
You can bet your bottom dollar that many more people will share similar concerns. You have the ability to provide help and support to others that are going through the same thing by creating and publishing content based on this information.
Your inbound marketing has the potential to build a community – a group of people that share a common ground – and you can be seen as the leader of that community.
Whether it’s a community of blog subscribers, social media followers, members of a Facebook group, or people that attend the same events that you exhibited at, these people are still there and they are looking for someone to help and guide them, not sell to them at this time.
Use your content to help build those communities and engage with them. Stimulate conversation and ideas –you’ll be surprised what comes of it.
From a sales standpoint, you’ll have salespeople that can’t be in the field. They’ll find it difficult to get hold of their prospects and clients; if they can, the conversations aren’t going to be productive if the salesperson is just trying to close.
Only yesterday, I took two cold-sales calls, one trying to sell me a corporate hospitality package to a rugby match, the other, a recruitment call. As you’ll probably imagine, those calls didn’t last longer than a minute.
Had the first caller talked to me about ideas to engage with my customers and prospects at this time, and the second, about government’s proposed support package for employers and strategies on employee motivation and productivity, I will have found those calls useful.
I would have then built some trust, seen the callers in an entirely different light and started to build a relationship with them. Granted, I wouldn’t have bought anything from them now, but it would have given them a warm prospect for when things improve.
Your sales team cannot afford to be idle at this time, calls are still a must. But the approach needs to change. It’s not about qualifying the lead and progressing the sale now; it’s about building relationships and cementing bonds between prospective customers.
I’ve just spoken to a friend of mine who is the sales director for a global relocation company. Since there are severe travel restrictions in place at the moment, no one can move from country to country. You would think that this is presenting huge problems for a business of this nature.
It would have been easy for the company to close shop and lay off the sales team, but they’ve done the opposite. Instead, the sales team is reaching out to more people and offering help and support. As a result, they have secured more meetings (albeit virtual meetings), with promises that once people are able to relocate, they will secure the business.
When your sales team is speaking to prospects, ensure that information collected from these interactions is fed back to your marketing team, enabling the creation of useful content. ,
In these challenging times, you have a choice: cut back your costs to the bare minimum, or rise to the challenge and increase your marketing output and sales activity. Going into hibernation will make it harder to get out of a slump as your brand’s value diminishes. If you work to proactively build sales opportunities, however, you can hit the ground running when things start moving again.
If you need any help at all related to your inbound sales and marketing approaches, then we’re happy to have a call to see where we can assist.
ENSURE YOUR MARKETING IS PERFORMING WHEN YOU NEED IT TO