Hello, welcome to another pandemic episode of B2B Marketing and More. We are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as many states are reopening. Yay! So, are you out and about yet? If you are, have a great time and shop until you drop dead. It’s our official responsibility to stimulate the US economy. I am just having fun with you. But definitely shop, but follow the social distancing rules and stay safe. OK?
So, from this whole drama, there is one giant, giant marketing takeaway from COVID-19, and this whole unfortunate event. It has to do how I help my clients approach marketing planning.
Many of my clients asked me if they should update their marketing plans, Well, now the states are opening, the economy is probably going back to normal and they just went through a round of marketing plan headcount and budget adjustments during the pandemic.
“Now people will start spending again, plus, our company’s business objectives and goals have not changed. Can we keep the marketing plan as it is?”
Well, the answer is NO. Hear me out!
For the longest time, I have always advised my clients that marketing plans need to follow the business goals and objectives to the T. Marketing, ultimately, is about growing the company and helping sales. The business direction certainly guides marketing’s creative, outreach, and its overall strategy; the whole nine yards. After strategies are set, marketing works on identifying buyer personas, creating customer journeys, content creation or whatnot.
But with this pandemic, it made me ponder the validity of my approach. If I think about it, this pandemic has forced all of us to live our lives differently. Everything we’ve taken for granted, like giving our loved ones a hug, going to school, meeting friends for happy hour or going to a graduation ceremony, was completely taken away in a moment.
It has had a huge impact on us mentally and psychologically. Well, I wouldn’t say that it scared us but, for business professionals who have full-time jobs and need to home-school their children, this whole situation has traumatized them. Just kidding. I have huge respect for people who were doing both. Seriously, you deserve a medal. You are like: “I don’t want a medal, I just want my kids to get out of my house for 8 hours and go to school so that I can sleep!” I get it. I agree with you wholeheartedly.
If you think about it, some behavior changes are permanent. For example, face-to-face customer meetings may be reduced to virtual calls. Less face-to-face to calls and on flight travels. And the physical demos may be moved to online demos.
Our buyers may use different options to communicate with us and the features for our products may be different as well. Therefore, buyer personas need to be updated with our customers’ new preferences.
Before updating your marketing plan, you need to refresh your buyer personas. And by the way, this is a great standing topic to discuss with your internal teams and agency partners. Everyone will have their point of view and perspective from reading many COVID-19 posts and some have probably talked to sales and customers and will have some great insights. I suggest my clients hold several virtual meetings over virtual happy hours. Talk about buyer persona changes. Here are some of the questions you can ask.
- What are some of the new normal behaviors for them?
- Do these new normals work for us or against us?
- Most importantly, how do the “new normal” behaviors shape customers’ purchase journeys and their decision-making processes?
If you refresh your buyer personas, you certainly need to re-evaluate your messaging frameworks. You may need to dial up different features of your products due to customers’ behavioral changes.
For example, some product features are great for face-to-face communications but, with remote work, it’s better to emphasize other features that allow quick access on the cloud through mobile devices.
So here’s is my big marketing takeaway from COVID-19:
The refreshed buyer personas and updated messaging frameworks will guide your marketing plan changes. Business goals and objectives are important, but your marketing plan needs to reflect the changes in your customers and the talking points.
I know it has been stressful for all of us marketers. By talking to many of you, I know how challenging your situations are. Some struggle to get clear direction from management, some have lost their jobs. Some have no budget or resources to help them.
I am in the same boat. If it’s hard on the client-side, it’s equally hard on the agency or consultant side.
I created templates to help you sort out your new buyer personas and messaging frameworks. You can download them here.
In the meantime, I mentor individuals and provide training so teams can revise their marketing plans faster and quicker. If you need help, please reach out!
If you venture out, stay healthy and be safe. Talk to you soon. Bye-bye.
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