I have been working from home for years. Nearly 10 years in fact. So, it’s nothing new for me to be quarantined inside my home for days on end working away in front of my computer screen. Of course, worry over the spread of COVID-19 has now forced hundreds of thousands of people into home offices across the globe and it happened at an unprecedented speed. It seemed like practically overnight that business closed their crowded downtown offices and implemented work from home policies.
Many businesses weren’t ready for such a radical shift and some have had to slow down or stop operations all together because of it. Fear over what’s to come post-pandemic has economists speculating about end of the world scenarios — almost like we are preparing for the zombie apocalypse. While the future is uncertain, what is sure is that there will be life post-coronavirus and we can’t forget that what we do now will impact how things play out later.
In order to maintain business operations, it’s important not to freeze marketing budgets. Marketing budgets are often the first budgets to get cut when the crisis alarm sounds; however, doing so will only decrease your sales pipeline and hurt your chances to bounce back once the pandemic is over. Having a long-term vision in mind is important to maintain a level-head. Those that refuse to see the forest for the trees will wind up shooting themselves in the foot sooner rather than later.
Most field marketers and sales reps are not used to staying inside. Now that all physical events have been cancelled everywhere, millions of dollars’ worth of marketing budget needs to be redirected elsewhere. While webinars may be a viable alternative, they won’t generate a sufficient sales pipeline in and of themselves, not to mention that following up attendees with face-to-face meetings is now out of the question. So what can your sales team do now that they are working from home and can’t meet with prospects one-on-one?
Here are some tips to redirect your marketing budget and keep your sales team on their toes:
Make your content relevant to the times
Content is key to get the word out about your solution’s value proposition but putting a timely spin on the messaging will help get people’s attention. I am shocked at the automated email marketing messages I keep getting from companies that seem to be completely ignoring the situation at hand; same goes for social media posts. It’s like are you oblivious or you just didn’t think? Confronting the situation head on and positioning your solution as having something businesses need to cope is the best way to ensure that your content gets read. Using content syndication methods, writing for relevant new keywords, and optimizing for SEO will all help ensure your content gets in front of your target audience. Giving your sales reps the leads that have downloaded content can give them top-of-the -funnel prospects to nurture and engage. In short, never underestimate the importance of good content!
There is no doubt that because decision-makers are all working from home, it is impossible to call them in the office. Using LinkedIn and implementing a social selling strategy is the only way to continue to engage and dialogue with your buyer personas currently. But don’t forget — when life goes “back to normal” LinkedIn will still be a good tool to use to generate leads. Social selling is the best way to find relevant contacts, create visibility for your brand and educate prospects. You can tap into existing groups or create one of your own. Highlighting your specific offer by managing a Showcase Page is another way to leverage LinkedIn to generate leads. So many possibilities and opportunities are to be found by implementing social selling tactics and training your sales reps to master their Sales Navigator accounts. Use this time to help them understand and implement best practices. If it’s done right, not only will your sales reps have new leads, they should help establish thought leadership for your brand.
Promoting your business solution through sponsored content is an instantaneous way of generating leads. Pay-per-click models on LinkedIn make it easy to set limits on your spend so that you never go over-budget. You can use this tactic in order to generate attendees to a live webinar, download content on-demand, or drive traffic to a specific landing page. LinkedIn allows you to segment your target audience in a highly granular manner to choose the right geographical locations, industry sectors, job titles, and company sizes so that you are only advertising to the right people. You can take advantage of this to create highly tailored messaging for specific audiences, which guarantees a higher success rate. When running ads on LinkedIn, it is important to test out several ads and run them simultaneously to see which ones perform best. In order to maximize your budget, you then can turn off the ads that don’t have the best return to focus on the ones that do.
Ensuring existing customers are happy
Making sure that your existing customers are happy is fundamental for any business, but now more than ever, it is crucial. Losing customers in a time of economic uncertainty is the worst thing that can happen to your business since it is much harder to acquire net new clients than it is to keep the ones that are already working with you. Ensuring the highest level of customer service in times of crisis, therefore, should be at the top of your priority list. By having your sales reps reach out to current customers just to check-in on them to see how they are doing, they will feel that they are being cared for. Make sure that your sales reps spend some of their time each day doing this critical activity.
Now that you and your team are home for the foreseeable future, you need to focus on the highest business priorities: ensuring continuity of service without sacrificing outreach to acquire new business, even if it will take you longer to close sales deals than it did in the past. By redirecting your efforts to digital marketing, online events, targeted advertising, and social selling, you should be able to weather the storm and come out on top when this is all said and done. I know it feels like we are all living the prelude to the Walking Dead, but I can assure you that this too shall pass. And those that are well-equipped are likely to take out their competition down the road.