David is a best-selling author, speaker and trainer. He is also CEO of IPD, a world-class marketing agency based in Tampa, Florida.
With the ongoing pandemic, nearly every major industry is scrambling to come up with the solution to a problem that none of us saw coming.
How can we make sales at this time? How can we effectively market to consumers who are stuck inside their homes and who may not be in a position to buy anything right now?
As the owner of a multimedia marketing company, this is a topic that hits home. This is something that few companies have ever truly had to deal with. It appears as if marketing in the current state of affairs is like throwing a dart aimlessly and hoping that it manages to stick into the board. It’s affecting both tenured marketing veterans as well as startups alike, and no one seems to have a set answer: How do we market in times of uncertainty?
I believe the first step is in finding the silver lining. Think about it: More people are at home now more than ever. Many are stuck home due to their state regulations, while others are working from home. Social media usage is through the roof, as people simply don’t have anything better to do. They’re sitting at home bored, scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, waiting to be able to do anything else.
More people are available to you right now than ever before. Now is not the time to shrink back; now is the time to move forward. Here are a few ways to do just that during the current climate:
1. Focus on social media.
Social media is where consumers are at right now. It is estimated that Facebook usage has raised by over 20%, and it appears that this will only increase. As such, your marketing focus should be on social media. Paid Facebook ads targeting a specific area and demographic, regular posts on your personal profile as well as whatever pages you may use for business — all of these things can benefit you even right now. Let people know that you’re still open for business. Tell them what products and/or services you may be able to provide during this time.
2. Don’t hide.
Some feel uncomfortable with marketing at this time, but the reality is this: the current pandemic won’t last forever, and people still have needs that must be met. If you can truly meet these needs, then you must be confident in your approach. It isn’t dishonest if you truly can help them to get through these difficult times. Don’t hide or feel unsure. Be confident! They have a problem, and if you can provide a solution, then everyone wins.
3. Be tasteful.
While you shouldn’t hide and should be comfortable with marketing during this time, you still must choose your words wisely. Be tasteful in your message and approach, and people will be more receptive to hearing what you have to say. This isn’t a time for hard closes and strong-armed sales tactics. You need to speak less about yourself and more about your customers. Be tasteful, think about the message you are trying to convey, and take the time to actually listen to the questions, concerns and feedback of your audience.
4. Play the long game.
Marketing in times of uncertainty means playing the long game. You might not turn prospects into buyers today, but if you stay in front of them, they might become buyers tomorrow.
In 2008, the economy was in shambles and few industries were hit as hard as the automotive industry. During this time, my company shrank to a mere percentage of what it was. My team and I made the decision to try to ride out the waves and focus not on the present but on future possible partnerships. It was these future partnerships that allowed us to come out stronger in the end. Our prospecting allowed us to move further down the line and survive during what was a very scary time for business owners.
For those who market business to business, the industries that are shut down currently are still industries that are needed in society. They are going to need assistance when they open back up for business. If you stay in front of them, you could be the ones that they reach out to when they are ready for business again.
5. Focus on how you can help.
The best way to market really hasn’t changed. Marketers should focus less on themselves and more on their customers. How can you help your customer right now? What about your product or service can directly benefit them at this very moment? Instead of focusing on the features of your products, focus on the benefits. How will partnering with your company assist your customer right now, at this very moment?
These are some of the ways that I have personally managed to make this pandemic a time of growing rather than a time of shrinking. It won’t be easy, but it can and will be done if you stay positive, stay calm and utilize these five basic tips in your marketing approach.
Times of uncertainty always eventually pass, and tomorrow is a new day!
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Author: David Villa, Forbes Councils Member