“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” - Theodore Roosevelt
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting every organization differently — some companies are going to go out of business, some will manage through it and be okay, some will benefit hugely from it simply due to the kind of product or service they offer.
That said, most companies will be managing their costs very closely, and sales and marketing costs are no exception.
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However, we simply can't stop marketing and communicating with our buyers, and now is the time to think about what we can do, with what we have, where we are.
So, with that in mind, here are 14 ideas for effective marketing activities you can do that cost little or no cash, and that every business should probably be doing more of anyway.
Some may work for you, some may not, but I'm sure there will be one or two things here that will help you.
Try reaching out to potential buyers that have made inquiries previously but never bought from you or never went through the full cycle.
Wherever and however you've been collecting emails and data, that's going to be a great asset for you right now, so leverage your email database.
These communications should be personalized, and they should use video like Vidyard Go. It's free and easy to use, but remember, focus on increasing confidence and trust at this time.
Seeing someone's face or hearing their voice, and seeing their behavior is going to be critical in all our communication. Therefore, it really goes without saying that video needs to become a central part of how we communicate.
We can't go to networking events right now. Therefore, we have to do what we probably should have been doing a lot more of anyway: proactively reaching out to our top vendors, our supply chain, and our top contacts and communicating with them more.
We need to have another database of all our top contacts, our top network, our A-list contacts. Now is an ideal team to stay connected. Find ways to proactively reach out, get on a Zoom call, and contact them. Find ways where you can add more value, maintain your relationships, stay front-of-mind.
A top tip here is to find a way you can add value to them. Ask them how they're managing this challenging time.
Perhaps you want to make some introductions for them that can help them with some challenges they're having. A favor given hopefully will yield a favor returned.
If you're a business manager, if you're in a sales role, or if you're a business leader, now is a great time to be reaching out to your main contacts anyway — and finding ways to add value and help them solve some problems can make your relationship even stronger.
3. The nine-word email
Now, this might not work for everyone, but it is a quick tactic that can help you re-engage with old leads.
It’s quite simple. You send an email with nothing in it except a single, short question: Are you still interested in buying a new truck? Are you still interested in life insurance?
The idea is that you know the contact was interested in this product or service at some point. The nine word email seeks to engage that person in dialogue.
Obviously social media platforms are free to use, but they’re really noisy. There's lots of coronavirus tweets and Facebook messages and videos on LinkedIn.
We have to find ways to cut through that noise.
The one way to do that is to republish your top-performing articles on your website currently (and the ones that you're writing) onto your personal LinkedIn profiles as articles. This gets them in front of your network, your peers, and your audience.
Now, your buyers may not be on LinkedIn, but your peers are, and that's important too.
People often don't see that as a priority, but being in front of your peers at a time like this is also critical. Get your content out there.
6. Embrace video across your whole team
We want to create video. We want to get out there and we want people to see our faces, to hear our voices. Want people to see our body language.
You don't have to have all the gear. An iPhone, a low cost microphone, a tripod. It doesn't matter, really. Balancing your iPhone on top of a pile of books and being able to do a video right now is good enough.
Keep it specific. Address main questions, fears, and anxieties. Do some walkthroughs or demos. Keep it short and just get it out there. Perfection is not what we're aiming for. We want to get it done.
Video is going to be key for communicating with your buyers and your audience, especially if you're going to use social media. Short and specific videos, published often, will help you to remain useful and relevant to your audience and buyers.
If you have a videographer on staff, this person now becomes the de facto teacher of video in the company.
7. Create a proactive plan for saving cancellations
We need to get ahead of concerns before they become problems. Proactively reach out to your customers, your buyers, your supply chain, your top contacts.
Put yourself in a position to understand how coronavirus is affecting them. This gives you the opportunity to think about how you could provide more value at this time.
It may mean that you have to think of a new service or a new product or a new way to provide value. This just gives you that chance to get ahead.
Reach out to those people that are already in the buying process. Reach out and give them a little bit more confidence where there's uncertainty.
This is a time where we don't want our buyers, especially those in the buying process already, to start making decisions on their own.
They need your help.
There's a good chance they can still move through your buying process in a different way perhaps, and still spend money with you, but they're going to need your help to make that decision.
Use video as much as you can. Send a short video in advance, "Hey, I'm going to give you a call sometime today or tomorrow. I want to talk to you about this, see how it's affecting you, what kind of challenges you're having. I'll speak to you soon.”
Then you can get on a call and use Zoom or Teams or some other video conferencing software to make that happen.
The point is having a plan for saving cancellations. People will cancel, people will stop, people will slow down, people will postpone — but oftentimes those can be saved if you’re proactive in helping your buyer to make decisions.
You want to create a segment in your email database for those that could have an interest in buying from you right now. You may think that nobody is going to spend money with you, but there's a market here for everybody.
You need to proactively find them and communicate with them with the right messages at the right time.
So, have a look at the data that you've got. Who's spending time on your site? What content are they downloading? What pages are they looking at? What questions are they asking? What search terms are they using?
Instead of waiting for them to move through the buying process, get your white gloves on and create a personalized connection with them. Reach out proactively instead of letting them go through the process organically.
It's going to be important for you to try and see the world from their perspective and help them to feel more confident at a time where they don't feel confident.
9. Follow up quickly and personally with all inquiries
Give all your inquiries the white glove service as much as you possibly can. In other words, not only are you going to act quickly and get back to people in good time, but use video when you do it to make a personalized connection.
Do everything you can to make your buyers feel special.
10. Optimize your website for what your buyers need
This is a time to be looking at your analytics. How are your buyers using your website? Use that information to make changes to your homepages and your landing pages.
How are your buyers changing? What they're searching for, what they're looking at? What are the trends looking like? Are they seeking out different products or different services with different content? Are they searching your site differently?
Look at the data compared to three or six months ago. Make changes, and make the changes quickly.
The website should be changing all the time anyway, so just get to work on the website, make changes as much as you can.
You need to be leveraging social media platforms, wherever your buyers are hanging out at the moment: current clients, potential clients, potential customers.
Repurpose your content, publish on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Let go of the need to have all the content on your website so you can measure website traffic and conversions.
Put the content on the platform where your buyers are. It might mean publishing whole articles on LinkedIn instead of linking back to your website, whole articles into Facebook notes, or whole videos onto Instagram or Instagram TV or YouTube.
Get it out there.
12. Who do your buyers know that could buy from you?
You should communicate with people who are either current buyers or current clients of yours, or people who have bought from you in the past and really liked what you did for them.
It’s always good to reach back out to them, with a personalized touch, to see if you can help them in any way.
Also, you can ask them for a testimonial or a case study, and then ask them, if they did enjoy what you did for them, is there anybody else that they know right now that would benefit from working with you?
Now, there are good ways and bad ways to do that, but generally speaking there’s a good chance that they know someone that would benefit from working with you too. So reach out.
13. Start a community/group page for your buyers
Now, depending on the size of your buyers and the size of your audience, this might be the perfect time to start a group or a community page like a Facebook Group or a Slack or a LinkedIn group where all your buyers can come together and communicate in one place.
Finally, live chat. Get a Drift or a Messenger onto your website or into a platform where your buyers are so they can communicate with you directly.
This is going to be especially important for businesses that used to rely on customers coming to see you in your workshop or in your store — or if you normally go out to them, to their property or their business.
Install a live chat on your website and have someone manage that for you. This could be something that you end up sticking with going forward as well. A lot of chat tools are free to use for a certain level of usage. Start looking at live chat as an option for you.
Many people out there have had their marketing budgets stripped, but there are always things that we can do.
You might not be able to do what you’ve always been doing, but there's a ton of stuff that you could still do.
It goes without saying that we shouldn't lower our values, or change the things that we believe in in order to get more customers. We should stick to what we believe in. Stick to doing things the right way. Continue to be honorable marketing and salespeople, especially now if we want to build trust and confidence with people.
But that said, I think we could be more proactive, perhaps a little less conservative in our approach to marketing and sales.
Perhaps it's time to look at how your buyers are actually buying from you. Perhaps it's time to introduce a new service or a new product line, or double down on a service or a product that's more fitting for the time we're in.
Be flexible. Move most of your buying process online. Embrace the touchless sale.
Perhaps there's an online offering that you've been sitting on that now needs to be promoted, that now needs to go to market.
There are always things that we can do.
Let's get back to the basics — to what marketing's all about. That personalized communication with people in a way that's going to help them to feel like they want to be part of what we do.
Help them feel more confident at a time that's uncertain. And let's make sure that our current and prospective buyers are making good decisions with complete information instead of allowing them to make poor decisions on their own.
So, do the best you can with what you have, because there are people out there that still want to buy from you.