This is probably obvious at this point, but it’s time to switch to crisis marketing.
Even for veterans of business and economic crises, this one is different. The most notable differences are that COVD-19 is simultaneously affecting every individual worldwide and is forcing every business to transition products, services, and operations online.
Using this as our fundamental assumptions, let’s talk through how to shift to a crisis sales and marketing strategy.
Establish a Philosophy
Clarity is essential to good decisions. This starts with having a clear understanding of what you believe and how you will make decisions. I think the best way to do this is to write down your philosophy – how you will make decisions during this crisis.
Here is my simple framework.
I know that ultimately we will make it through this crisis. I know that on the other side of this crisis life and business will return to normal. I don’t know when that will happen. Therefore, I will not take action or create goals that are dependent on timelines or dates.
I will survey the situation each day and respond to the realities of the moment.
I will serve the customers and markets that are available to me.
I will look for new, emerging, and long term opportunities.
I will focus on generating revenue as swiftly and efficiently as possible.
Get out your legal pad and write down your principles. Writing things down is amazingly calming and creates objectivity in your planning. I don’t know why, but trust me it does.
Create an Advisory Group
Unlike 2008, I have hundreds of credible advisors at my fingertips. For all the frustrations of social media, it is proving to be an incredible asset in this crisis. I can survey the market, find smart people to add to my network, and learn quickly.
My recommendation is that you first start with your own network. Start increasing your communication and sharing with the people that you already trust and partner with during business as usual. Then begin to seek, source, and filter a broader advisory network through online channels.
Getting very practical, I’ve done the following:
- I built a very specific COVID-9 list on Twitter. This list includes sales and marketing experts, financial markets experts, medical experts, and other miscellaneous people that seem wise.
- I have tuned into my Linkedin network and have that newsfeed up throughout the day. I’m liberally contributing to discussions in that newsfeed. At the same time, I very judiciously adding to that network.
- I continue to curate and read through my RSS reader – Feedly (yes, I still use one of those and you should too).
Tactical Sales and Marketing Plan
With that foundation in place, it’s time to get very actionable with the rest of this article. Here are the very specific things you need to start working on right now.
Sales Pipeline Retention Program
Protecting and generating revenue is your number one priority during a business crisis.
Account managers need to proactively engage with customers to assess their needs and viability during the crisis. Make sure that you understand how you can contribute most directly to their sustainability. Continue to deliver your products and services to support your customers.
Be vigilant for the need or opportunity to change the nature of your products and services to respond to the current market environment.
Email Marketing is the Cornerstone
Nothing is more important than email at this moment. It is our most direct line to customers and the market.
If you have an email list, start using it.
Begin with empathy, but don’t be shy about selling and marketing your products and services. Ideally, you have made some tweaks to those products and services to make them more valuable during this crisis. At the very least you probably need to advise customers on how your business operations have changed and how customers can continue to access your products and services.
If you don’t have an email list, take this opportunity to get connected to your customers. Customers are clamoring for news and information, if for no other reason than uncertainty (and boredom in this crisis). Meanwhile, open and click-through rates have never been higher.
Reshape Your Content Marketing
Put your current editorial calendar on hold. Shift to content and topics that are relevant to your customers’ current situation.
Build new personas for your content marketing plan. What are people trying to figure out? What are people searching for? What new topics and keywords are entering into your consumers’ vocabulary?
Become the resource or curation center for all of this new curiosity.
Make sure that your sales team has all of the digital assets and collateral they need. Everything has shifted to digital in this crisis. Those flyers, folders, and glossy portfolios aren’t going to help them sell anymore.
Rapidly create landing pages, blog posts, product and service guides, ebooks, checklists, videos, and a variety of other downloadables that help customers buy.
Leverage Discounts on Advertising
This is one of the most overlooked opportunities in any crisis – advertising cost crash.
As businesses struggle or simply make foolish marketing decisions, advertising budgets get pulled out of the paid media marketplace.
These actions have a nearly immediate impact on advertising marketplaces. Google Ads, Bing Ads, and Facebook Ads get cheaper and less competitive. Even buying leads from lead aggregators get incredibly affordable, not to mention consumer data gets dirt cheap.
Take this opportunity to stock your CRM with new consumers and opportunities from cheap ad buys.
I’m not sure where the original quote came from, it’s been attributed to so many different people, but I’m a big believer in “Whatever doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger!”
Don’t stick your head in the sand. Keep moving forward. Keep marketing. Keep selling. This will make you a stronger business on the other side of this crisis.