Virtual is the New Visual: Keep Your Marketing Simple and Effective in Turbulent Times

By STEPHANIE WOODCOCK

Stephanie Woodcock

As work continues in the wake of this global crisis and some form of normalcy resumes, there is a new landscape to navigate in our marketing efforts.

Yes, marketing. Did we forget?

I don’t blame you. It’s easy to forget parts of our overall business strategies when we are currently living out what seems like a real-life apocalyptic movie. With everything changing so fast, it’s difficult to track how it affects our marketing, let alone to deliver that marketing.

Now that traditional B2B sales efforts, face-to-face meetings, lunch ‘n learns and event marketing are paused, we need to learn the new normal of marketing techniques that may be the new normal to stay. With everyone going digital, our content and messages can easily turn into white noise. In addition, we’ve all been thrown a lot of numbers lately. Here are some important ones:

Marketing 101 During COVID-19 in 2020

  • Embrace A Different Kind of Digital Marketing

Now that traditional sales work is restricted, marketing has to fill that space. Whether it’s paid search marketing, SEO, electronic email blasts, video content, webinars, press releases or social media engagement, B2B content marketers have the tall order of being both sensitive to current circumstances while also being educational and entertaining.

Good marketers know that in order for people to engage with content, it has to inform, entertain or save them money. Some companies are really capturing the spirit of community and togetherness in this crisis, but many of those companies are B2C. They are used to entertaining the consumer.

In our B2B environment and A/E/C (Architectural, Engineering, Construction) industry, we are more accustomed to informing and educating our customers with crucial project details and in person – not educating our customers about our company, community and culture. But now is the time. People need to laugh. They need to feel comradery. Take your brand and company culture to a new level.

  • Improve Your Online Presence and Inbound Marketing

While your customers may not be googling your location, they may be viewing your website – for the first time ever – to gain information that they used to receive from you in person. In addition, mobile usership was already rising rapidly before we were all sent home to our smartphones and tablets, with more than 50 percent of consumers viewing content on their mobile phones. So by now, it’s probably at about 100%. That means your online presence needs to look good on a smartphone.

The time is now to upgrade your brochure-like, static site into a mobile-responsive, conversion-focused and lead-generating website. Even the smallest companies can have a simple, effective website with engaging copy, strong call-to-action (CTA) buttons, a lead generator to capture email addresses and an inbound marketing strategy. I’m an advocate of an easy-to-find resource section and frequently asked questions (FAQ) section as well.

Give them answers. Answers. What a wonderful word during this time of uncertainly. Users are engaging in new content and media channels they don’t normally consume. That new content could be your (new) website.

  • Don’t Let Your Brand Die on the Street

While many companies are smartly reducing budgets overall, it’s important to keep feeding the upper funnel so that your brand remains top of mind when demand bounces back. The worst thing companies can do is ignore the situation and hibernate their marketing efforts until this is over. Brands still need to deliver value to fill the pipeline for the future. Here’s how:

  1. Recognize and address new pain points your customer may have and find new ways to address them.
  2. Repurpose existing content to fit the times. Reevaluate creative so that it’s sensitive to the current climate.
  3. Test new audiences. Think about alternate uses for your service or product that might be relevant right now.
  4. Find new ways to connect with people remotely.

If your brand only had street traffic before this crisis (meaning only you were the brand), it’s time to create a real digital footprint. Digital marketing and a digital presence are here to stay.

In this new normal, companies are desperate to connect remotely to maintain and increase their customer base. Virtual is the new visual. The onus is on marketing teams to rise above the mass of digital traffic and be heard. Our job is to pivot our marketing strategies to educate and entertain in a concise, fun way.

While there is a fine line between seizing opportunity and being opportunistic, good marketing gains even more traction and interest during these times of crisis. Keep it simple, streamline strategies and create positive messaging. Staying positive, offering assistance and building community are a good way to start.

Stephanie Woodcock is president of Seal the Deal Too, a St. Louis-based marketing, creative & communications firm. She can be reached at stephanie@sealthedealtoo.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.