Find the original article published by Triblio’s CEO Andre Yee on Forbes here
As a health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented. It has wreaked havoc and concern on a global scale, leading to a growing number of people self-quarantining and working from home in an effort to “flatten the curve.” However, COVID-19 isn’t simply a health crisis — it’s also an economic crisis of global proportions as many businesses across the world have been shut down for weeks, if not months.
What should marketing leaders do during this time? At a time of such pressing health concerns, is it even appropriate to focus on marketing? Or should marketers simply keep their heads down and reemerge when this crisis is over?
In speaking with some of the most respected marketers I know, what’s clear is that neither “business as usual” or a “sky is falling” mindset is appropriate for this unique time. If marketing leaders are to remain relevant and influential during the COVID-19 global crisis, marketing priorities and tactics need to be appropriately reshaped and realigned.
Here are four things to focus on:
1. Care For Your Customers
All of us care about our customers, but as marketers, we need to focus on caring for our customers during this time — and this starts with empathy. Before rolling out a new customer marketing program, take the time to understand what your customers are experiencing and what they might be feeling at this time. Many marketers latch onto empathy as a virtue, especially when it comes to shaping corporate communications. After all, no one wants to appear to be tone-deaf at a time like this.
But remember: Empathy isn’t about messaging; it’s about caring, and your customers will know the difference.
Caring for your customers should also result in customer-exclusive programs that show your customers that they are “in the family.” For instance, our company launched a Triblio Tabletalk — a weekly customer-exclusive online event where customers can get educated and interact with the Triblio team. We want to let our customers know how much they mean to us, and this is just one way to do so.
2. Level Up Your Online Marketing Game
In the face of a global health and economic crisis, there’s a real temptation to get conservative, cut costs and hunker down for the long haul. It takes courage, but we need to resist the inclination to play it safe. Instead of slashing budgets, shift the marketing investment mix to online marketing programs. In the current digital-first work environment, online programs are becoming more effective as all of us spend more time in front of the computer.
However, it’s not enough to simply invest in online marketing; we need to also innovate our use of digital marketing channels. Much of what we do with offline and in-person events cannot simply be replicated online.
For example, replicating an in-person “lunch and learn” program requires far more than simply converting the format to a webinar. It requires answering questions including:
- Should the audience be regionally based when there’s no need for it to be?
- Should the content be modified since the content isn’t delivered in person?
- How do you attract an online audience when you’re not buying them lunch?
- How should the call to action and follow-up be changed when you’re not doing it in person?
The reality is that many of our in-person programs need to be completely reimagined for an online audience. That’s where your innovation and creativity as a marketer will make the difference for your organization. That means giving yourself permission to experiment and fail as you explore new tools and strategies.
3. Stand Out By Getting Personal
With every company moving away from in-person events to online campaigns, standing out and getting noticed as a brand becomes a monumental challenge. There’s just so much more noise online. It’s not uncommon to face this problem whenever a tactic, media format or channel proves to be effective and popular. In a digital-first world where every marketer is moving online, how do you get noticed?
This is where personalization comes in. Personalized content and offers have long been proven to outperform generic equivalents. However, in a digital-first world that we are all subject to during the COVID-19 crisis, personalization matters even more to your business. Personalized content communicates to your buyer that you understand who they are — their needs, their desires and their challenges. It naturally implies that you are uniquely able to help them by providing the best-fit solution.
However, to get the full benefit of personalization, it’s not enough to simply apply personalization to a single channel like email. Sending personalized emails might have been the medium of choice a decade ago, but today’s marketers realize that customers interact at will, across multiple marketing channels. To get the maximal effect of personalization, marketers must personalize across other channels as well. Besides email, this means incorporating personalization for channels like website, chat, display advertising and direct mail.
4. Make It A Priority To Connect With Your Peers
As miserable of a plight as COVID-19 is, it represents a common experience for all of us. Just as we are doing in our personal lives, we should use this common experience to reach out to our fellow professionals. The economic crisis that will befall many communities has already forced the cancellation of events, rightsizing of budgets and loss of jobs for many professionals. It is also ratcheting up anxiety on a global scale.
Let’s reach out with encouragement for each other. Let’s use this time to ideate together. Let’s find ways to collaborate even with those who might typically compete with us.
Being a human first and a marketer second might just help you be a better marketer through this critical time.