The coronavirus outbreak has altered all of our lives and our jobs. No matter how much we long for a return to normalcy in the workplace, none of us can predict when that will happen and what "normal" will actually look like. How we conduct business may never return to what it once was, but that doesn't mean we can't still thrive.
Marketing professionals from Federated Media shared insights on what they have learned as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Here are the top 10 takeaways from what they had to say.
1. Listen to Your Clients
Knowing clients and their businesses well can make you a resource in more than just marketing.
During this time, clients take comfort in talking about what is going on with them in their personal and business lives. Business owners have to make tough decisions, and they can't always speak to those in their regular work circles because they are no longer in the same building, or the decisions made that affect them. Taking time to have conversations with clients about how they are currently feeling, how they are dealing with changes, and what their plans are for the upcoming days and weeks ahead helped me to know what conversations needed to happen next. Even if the conversations were not about marketing, it enabled everyone involved to stay in control of something during many unknowns.
2. Remain Flexible/Be Ready for Change
Learn from the storms in life as they will make you wiser.
Understanding that many of my clients were panicking, feeling alone, and possibly contemplating reducing or canceling their marketing campaigns altogether, I found ways to go above and beyond to help them make it through this challenging time. This approach helped to strengthen partnerships rather than dissolve them. It is important to respond quickly to provide new solutions and make adjustments to meet clients' immediate needs as these can change in an instant.
3. Reach Out Early
Having tough conversations early is a tremendous help.
Anticipating that clients would need to cut back on spending, I reached out early and often to adjust the messaging. I highly recommend trying to stay nimble. That way, you will always be ready for change.
4. Connect with Clients in Their Preferred Way
It's not necessary to be so formal.
My normal way of prospecting and meeting with clients was completely blown up because of COVID-19. Since it hasn't been possible to meet anyone face-to-face, I found a variety of new ways to communicate. Facebook and LinkedIn messaging, Zoom, and texting have all worked quite well. I plan to continue with those avenues based on what my advertisers desire.
5. Do What You Have Always Done
There is no reason to modify the way you do business during a crisis, except to become a Zoom expert.
When the coronavirus crisis first happened, I was awaiting the cancellation train. It never came. I listened and addressed my clients' newest challenges. I learned that, even in a crisis, if you just keep doing what you always do, you will be fine. Build your clients' trust, super-serve them, give them good ideas and you will have long-lasting relationships.
6. Adding a Human Element is More Important than Ever
People buy from people. (Always important, but now it's critical).
I learned that during a crisis of this magnitude, business owners grapple with some of the same feelings that my colleagues and I do. Picking up the phone rather than emailing helped clients know that there was a caring individual they could turn to. Even if they wanted to vent or share their fears, I let them. Every call doesn't even have to be about moving a sale along. This helps establish relationships and encourages customers to do business with you whether it's in a few weeks or sometime in the future.
7. There is Power in Positive Thinking
Always stay positive, no matter the situation.
It will be difficult, but you must not succumb to the negativity that is out there. Don't change your process. Keep doing the right things every day. If you do that, good will happen. This mindset might not lead to immediate success, but it will ensure your success in the future.
8. Use Technology to Find Ways Around Roadblocks
Necessity is the mother of invention.
Prospects and clients alike appreciate creativity in the face of anxiety and fear. They also like using technology. When you can't meet in person, an audio or video message can save the day. When we can present solutions regarding communication, and inspire positivity and engagement while doing so, we are truly partners.
9. Use this Opportunity to Grow Closer to Your Clients
Tough times don't last, but tough people DO!
Because this is the toughest time many of us will ever see in our careers, our clients see us as a resource now more than ever. Write new copy, brainstorm ways for them to serve their customers, listen to their heartbreak as they talk about losing staff and income. This is a chance to be a part of their inner circle. What a gift!
10. Continue to be Trustworthy
I'm here to help.
People are constantly looking for ideas and answers from people they trust. You don't need to know all the answers yourself immediately, but be a resource for your clients to get the answers they need. Be there for them now just like you were before.