Hello, this is Pam. Welcome to another pandemic episode of B2B Marketing and More.
In this episode, I am going to talk about how to do marketing during a crisis, answering a question I received after attending the Social Media Strategies Summit “Ask Anything” webinar.
Here is the question from Lauren:
I work for a non-profit organization. In the current situation, what’s the appropriate way to ask for donations? or is it not at all?
Lauren, I love your question. Frankly, I can modify this question for salespeople: I need to reach out to prospects to build up my sales pipelines, is it appropriate to do cold prospecting or not at all?
So the truth is, we are all asking ourselves the same questions and trying to figure out what is appropriate for our own target markets and audiences. We are all looking for answers and trying to figure out appropriate actions. We’re asking what is the right thing to do, even myself.
So before answering Lauren’s question I shared this blog post with her. The name of the blog post is 5 Media Principles Guiding Google’s Media Team in the Wake of the COVID-19 outbreak from Joshua Spanier. He made it very clear that there is no playbook for times like these, I 100% agree. So here is what he’s found is that crisis can provide clarity.
Here are the 5 principles that his media team follows and I thought it applies to marketing and sales teams:
- Context, always: You need to ask yourself: “In what instances are you comfortable putting your brands alongside news content?” “Do people care about your products at this time?” If your products can help them, how can they help at this time? Can you put it in the right context? Context is everything.
- Constantly reassess: Things change on a daily basis. You need to stay on top of it. Most of us have some sort of editorial planning. For myself, we plan our editorial 1-2 weeks in advance. I have clients plan their content planning 6-8 months in advance. Given that things change on a regular basis, what we plan one week ago may not apply now. We can pre-schedule your communications, but be prepared to make changes the last minutes, because it may no longer be appropriate today.
- Creative consideration: Given that Joshua manages the global media team, creative does matters. For all of us, both creative and copywriting matter. What we say, how we say and what images or videos we use to illustrate that our points are more important than ever. The way we communicate needs to be sympathetic, respectful, and supportive. Our creative and copywriting needs to reflect that. Many B2B marketers are so accustomed to buttoned-up communications (me included), but now is the time to be up close and personal.
- Constant priority changes: B2B marketers are so used to planning (I’m talking about me!). We plan our product launches months in advance. We start planning 6-8 months before our big events. Our editorial is likely to be planned out 2-4 weeks in advance. Well, you know what? Planning still matters. But we need to be nimble enough that we need to re-align with ever-changing priorities from management. It’s not that they want to make changes, but a situation requires them to do that. We just need to be cognizant of that.
- Contribution and be helpful: When you are online, you’ll notice a great many SaaS-based platforms are offering their platforms for free. Many paid courses and books are free as well. Some organizations are donating their time and money to help front-line workers or fund pandemic research. All these can be talking points that you can share as a part of marketing communications, but be careful how you phrase it. And another thing is pricing changes or product offering change impact messaging, sales talking points, even content and copy we show on our websites and social media channels. It means that we need to update our webpages, and refresh or update our content everywhere. It’s a lot of work and can be overwhelming. I get it.
I told Lauren there are two principles that are critical for her to be aware of: put it in the right context and be helpful. Is there a way she can think of reaching out to her donors in the right context? If she can’t think of anything on her own, can she brainstorm with her team or management? Get others to help her come up with creative ideas. Again, put it in the right context.
In this trying time, what we say and how we say it matters. I told Lauren that she knows her donors well, she needs to trust her gut on how and what is the best way to reach out at this time.
BTW, I also shared the following ‘excerpt with her. This is a response to a question on Reddit that’s similar to Lauren’s. This marketing manager is in the travel and hospitality industry which has been very heavily hit by the pandemic. What he or she said resonates with me. Here is the excerpt from Reddit user: LobsterOnTheLand
“I’m in the tourism business in Central America. The outlook is pretty grim for the short term. Realistically, no one will be traveling until next fall at the soonest – and even then tourism will be WAY down. We’ve decided that marketing and promoting our trips aren’t the best choice right now – it won’t make us look good, and no one is thinking about traveling anyway. Instead, we’re doing a few other things:
– Reaching out to customers who have trips planned with us through the end of 2020 and updating them on the travel status in our country, and how their trip will be affected. It’s important to keep people updated.
– Reaching out to good (repeat) customers and just wishing them well in this difficult time.
– Working on promotional content and website updates that we can use a few months from now when the time is right.
– Mostly we are just slacking off though, because there isn’t a whole hell of a lot to do, and profits will be almost nil this year.”
Honestly, I don’t know how LobsterOnTheLand and his or her company is going to make it, but what he or she said resonates with me.
If you are struggling, just be aware that everyone is struggling as well. We are trying to pivot and do something different. We’ll make mistakes, but we will adapt and learn along the way.
Hang in there, my friends. Reach out if you have any questions.
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Stay healthy and be well. Take care.