This is an uncertain time for marketers. Things are changing on a daily basis: the stock market plunging, school closures, city and border lockdowns and more. It’s very challenging to be a marketer in a time like this. We need to be fast and slow at the same time: fast to communicate; yet be patient to wait for executives to communicate (and re-communicate) new business directions. Everything seems to be a moving target. I understand how tough and stressful it is to do marketing now. Ryan Lewis, President of Bonfire Marketing, and I had a prep call for our May’s ABM event in Portland last week. During that meeting, we made a swift decision to team up to do a 30-minute webinar to share our thoughts on what marketers can do proactively to keep things moving.
You can check out the on-demand video at the bottom of this blog post.
Here are the three takeaways if you prefer to read.
Adjust Content and Messaging Based on New Business Directions
In the webinar, I talked about business directions changing dramatically in this dire time. Many companies are evaluating their pricing packages and making sensible adjustments to increase user-base or maintain revenue. One example I used during my webinar is Loom. In its email to all subscribers (see below) they: – Expanded their freemium offerings from 25 videos to unlimited – Cut the existing Pro pricing from $10/per month to $5/per month – Welcome teachers and students to use Loom for free
As you can see, this email stated the business strategy, pricing, and feature changes.
And the changes have a big impact on messaging, positioning and content. Think about this: the pricing and offerings need to be updated on the website, and new content needs to be created for the sales team and customer support team. The FAQ and support pages also need to be updated. There is a chain-reaction effect when business direction or product offering changes. In addition, Loom’s marketers need to modify existing content or create new content to help teachers and students use Loom. The usage of Loom will stay the same, but “how” you explain it to teachers and students will be different than explaining to business users. The content needs to be relevant to teachers and students.
– The challenge is that senior management may take a long time to make strategic decisions and evaluate the pros and cons. This is where ‘hurry up and wait’ comes in. You need to be nimble enough to act quickly, yet patient enough to wait for guidance coming from the top. I know, it’s hard. – Another key point for us is the ability to connect the dots with the different team members. In an enterprise, you may have a web team managing the website, the customer support team managing customer calls, subject matter experts updating the products, product marketing teams revising their messaging, and the sales enablement team updating sales content. Having an all-inclusive war-room huddle in a situation like this helps everyone move in the same direction and allows everyone to react quickly when key decisions are made. – Modify and create new content based on new business decisions.
Engage with Your Sales Team and Stay Close to Them
I wrote a blog post about the number 1 reason for misalignment between sales and marketing and the need to build a relationship with them. As I said in the webinar, NOW is the perfect time to get closer to your sales team. In the field of B2B, sales should be your BFF. While working on adjusting or creating new content, you also need to take into account sales’ needs. Some marketing content can certainly be used either by the sales team directly or be passed to end-users via sales reps. This is especially important when salespeople can’t visit their prospects or existing customers face-to-face (FTF) and they have to conduct communications via phone, video conferencing, texting, or email.
Let’s Put Things in Context for Sales
To put things in context for sales, we need to make an effort to recommend the ideal formats of content for different types of communications and map the content to the sales stages. Some of my previous blogs present a framework for doing just that. In addition to comprehending the sale’s content needs, we also need to understand sales’ game plans. At the beginning of the year, sales may have ambitious goals to bring in “net new” customers. With the current situation, the revenue mix and ratio of net new and existing customers may have changed for this and coming quarters. Although the annual revenue goal may stay the same, the quarterly revenue is likely to be adjusted. If that’s the case, marketing’s demand generation goals should not stay static and you need to proactively to seek management’s approvals to adjust accordingly. Don’t wait for your management to come to you. Go to your management with a plan. Another method of helping sales is to re-balance between the top of the funnel and the bottom of funnel marketing outreach. One way to support the bottom of the funnel with account-based marketing (ABM). Account-based marketing provides air cover to accelerate sales conversions. Understand what ABM is and my approach.
– It’s time to observe and understand how sales communicate with customers using online conferencing tools – While modifying and creating new content, you need to either create sales-centric content or work with your counterparts who create sales-centric content. Another element to take into account is to ensure that content is shareable or easily incorporated into the online conferencing tools that the sales team uses. – Map content to the sales stages and put it in a context that sales will understand – Scale air cover account-based marketing (ABM) for strategic and key accounts
Leveraging Marketing Technologies (Martech) is a must
In our webinar, Ryan Lewis, President of Bonfire Marketing, talked about the importance of using different online communications tools to continue to move marketing forward. Webinars, conferencing and virtual event tools such as Zoom, Webex, or On24 are good substitutes for FTF communication. He also discussed using different platforms such as ION, Tiled, and Turtl to create interactive content to supplement typical long-form PDF content. Another thing he suggested is to use Vidyard, PathFactory, and Instapage to deliver personalized content and experiences. For marketing tactics, he and I are on the same page: get direct and indirect (channel partners and resellers) sales forces involved, understand their needs, and make an effort to support them. One of his other suggestions was to employ direct mail: send thoughtful presents, even lunches, to your clients or prospects to keep you at the top of the mind. People still long for a nice, personal touch. Direct mail is not dead.
– Present a list of online communication tools that marketer and sales can use – Delight and surprise your customers with thoughtful touches and make them feel that they are not alone – Create content with the mindset of WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?)
Let’s be Proactive and Keep Moving Forward
One final thing that I mentioned was the budget. The marketing budget is likely under scrutiny during the downturn. In the corporate world, the travel budget tends to get cut first, then, marketing budget second. One way to salvage or minimize your budget reduction is to align your budget with sales goals and initiatives. You need to be able to show that, whatever you do, sales will benefit directly. There are tough times ahead. As my friend, Lissa Blackaby Forsterer, stated: “Although B2B Marketing Budget tends to get cut first, it’s also the first to be bounced back when the situation normalizes. Sales need marketing’s support!” If you are working with your sales team closely, I’d love to showcase your best practices in my podcast episodes or videos. If you start working with your sales team now, I’d love to help you out. Remember, brainstorming is free. Either way, I’d love to hear from you. 🙂