With COVID-19 precautions in place across the globe, events are being cancelled left and right. Since events used to be a huge source of sales leads, what can you do now that they are being postponed for the foreseeable future? Here are five ways to redirect your marketing budget to build the sales pipeline you need to keep your business going.

Social selling

As more and more businesses have their employees work from home, there is a real opportunity to continue generating leads through social selling. In fact, the social selling campaigns we have been running for our clients have seen a surge in responses from prospects on LinkedIn who now seem to have the time and desire to network with people online. Maybe confinement is causing people to seek out (virtual) contact?  In any case, generating a nurture pipeline of in-target prospects via social selling is a long-term strategy, which means that when life goes “back to normal,” you will still benefit from it. Social selling helps establish a constant influx of leads over time in an “always-on” manner. By setting up a social selling program now, you can get ahead of your competition who may be slow to realize that social networking channels are, and will continue to be, an essential way to generate leads in the years to come.

In order for social selling to be effective, make sure you tap into available content and create a content calendar of posts for your feed. This will help create legitimacy for your profile and increase visibility for your brand. You should also conduct an audit of the relevant groups you can tap into; this will give you yet another outlet through which you can engage in discussions with decision-makers and industry thought-leaders, expanding your reach. Adding connections on LinkedIn has a snow-ball effect — the more contacts you have, the more new contacts you’ll get. Check the contacts of your contacts and invite other similar buyer personas to join your network. Pretty soon you’ll have over 500 contacts and will start establishing a name for yourself within your niche.

Make your physical event virtual

Hosting a webinar is a good alternative to live events. Of course, you need to make sure that the topic of your webinar is pertinent for your target audience, and that you can rely on quality presenters. It is not as easy as it seems to get people to attend a virtual event. People are invited to webinars all the time, so you need to work to make yours stand out from the crowd.

Event marketing takes careful planning, and there is never any guarantee that people will attend. We recommend having several, highly targeted sessions; this may mean tailoring your messaging to a particular industry sector or job function. Creating a buzz for your next event should also involve a series of well planned-out steps:

  • Cleaning up your data sets
  • Creating a series of email invitations: Save the Date, Register Now, Spaces Still Available, Last Chance to Register
  • Designing and implementing an outreach strategy to drive registrations both on and offline

The most effective webinars are the ones that are short and sweet. Half an hour to 45 minutes works well since most people don’t have a full hour to spend and are likely to drop off before the end if they feel it is dragging on for too long. Make sure that your presenter plans out his or her presentation in advance to fit within the time constraints you have established. If you choose to have multiple presenters, run at least two practice sessions prior (that you record and listen to together) so that they can coordinate and ensure your event runs smoothly.

Recording your webinar and publishing it on your website as on-demand gated content post-event is a good way for you to get the most bang for your buck. You can also use your social channels to enhance visibility for your virtual event both before and after it takes place. Make sure to follow-up with anyone who has registered, whether they are able to attend the day of or not. This will help you begin a dialogue with prospects and should help you identify qualified business opportunities.

Get good at email marketing

When emails are well tailored to suit the needs of your target audience, they can work to get your foot in the door. Email marketing used to be associated with spamming, but in recent years, things have changed. Due to stricter data privacy policies including GDPR in Europe, companies can no longer spam the world and hope for the best. Segmenting your data is a must in order to find the messaging that resonates best with your key buyer personas, whether that be because you are speaking to a specific industry sector or job function.

Conducting A/B testing of subject lines, the message itself, and the time of sending should help you determine what works best. Just be sure not to test more than one parameter at a time so that you can pinpoint which one has the most impact.

Conclusion

Times are uncertain. But what is sure is that business must go on. We cannot just stop everything and put life on hold while we wait for what’s to come. That means adapting to the situation and being creative to find new ways to continue to generate leads, build a sales pipeline, and close deals. Perhaps your solution can be of particular interest to prospects because of the situation at hand. Cloud-based solutions are especially attractive, as are AI and data analytics … as more employees work from home, time tracking solutions and CRMs are also well positioned to ride out the storm. Find what your solution has that people need and run with it.

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