You must make major shifts in your marketing to win in this new environment. Bill Belichick, coach of the 6-time Super Bowl champs, the Patriots, was famous for making halftime adjustments that won him the biggest games, even when he was behind. Bill O’Brien, who coached under him for four years, went a step further and said “If you wait until halftime [to make adjustments], you’re in trouble.” The same is true of your need to make adjustments during COVID-19.
Take a quick inventory of what isn’t possible or has become less effective in the post-COVID reality. Conferences are canceled and virtual conferences don’t provide the same quality of networking, breakfasts, lunches, coffee meetings, and dinners are far more difficult and just aren’t happening at the same frequency and are likely of a lower quality, in-person office visits aren’t happening either.
So where do we turn? The moment COVID hit, email marketing hit an all-time high. The problem? Any marketing tactic that everybody is doing becomes much less effective, so the vast majority of emails are just ignored. Learn more about that here.
What does that leave us? Three powerful digital marketing tools that are more powerful now than ever include: content to drive thought leadership, social media to build and maintain relationships, and pay-per-click advertising (“PPC”.) Why these three specifically? I’ll explain.
First, in times of confusions and uncertainty, it is human nature to turn to trusted advisors. Relevant content is the best way do demonstrate expertise and provide direction your customers are so badly looking for. If content creation isn’t a major part of your marketing effort, pivot and start creating content. Don’t have content creators in your organization? Make the investments needed to hire them. If you have only a trickle of content now, make a concerted effort to encourage your writers to create more. Nobody is going to conferences currently, but everybody is reading content.
Second, social media isn’t new, but it is having its moment. To all those who say, “I’m much better in person,” I have bad news for you, it doesn’t matter how good you are in person. In person isn’t possible in the current environment, so you better figure out how to leverage social media or your competitors will have a distinct advantage. Where should you start? See my article for some ideas, but the simplest advice is this: make a list of your top 25 business relationships and have monthly interactions with them on social media. In addition, you can share good articles or business insights as LinkedIn updates every business day. Both of these activities will keep you top of mind with your top contacts while also keeping your visible to your industry.
Third, with all businesses living online now, PPC on Google, or LinkedIn/Facebook ads are worth considering. Prices are very competitive and it may be one of the only ways for you to meet and engage with new customers or clients in the current climate. There are tons of great resources out there to get started. For PPC, I’m a big fan Bruce Rowe at Sebo Marketing, and for LinkedIn ads I’d recommend AJ Wilcox at B2LinkedIn. They both provide great free resources that can show you how to get started on PPC or LinkedIn ads.
Canceling marketing is not an adjustment, it’s waving the white flag of surrender. Reducing marketing efforts is no better. Real leaders find a way to win, even when the conditions aren’t ideal. To find ways to win, you must redirect efforts and resources away from what’s not working and find the bright spots. Content, social, and PPC may be the right options for you. Choose something, or you may run the risk of becoming irrelevant.
Originally published on Forbes and reprinted with permission.