What marketers should do as the apocalypse hits
Let's call it: the four horsemen of the apocalypse have arrived. But marketers should not head for their bunkers or clear the local supermarket shelves.
As the coronavirus, the oil price war between Saudi Arabia and OPEC, and Russia, the economic and social fallout of the summer's bushfires, and the herd instinct in financial markets and entire market sectors, conspire to wreak economic havoc, marketers should take to higher ground so that, when the apocalypse has passed, not only have they survived it, they are ahead.
- the markets are volatile enough (on Friday 9 March the ASX 200 index lost 7.3 per cent, a paper loss of $137 billion, and on Friday 13 March lost 8 per cent on opening and then ended the day up 4.4 per cent) that we all run the risk of terminal whiplash
- this is precisely the moment when marketers should step up to focus on creating new offers that reward customers and attract new prospects. It is a time to take the longer view by preparing for new customer mindsets that may be looking now for new, fast, different advantages today
- as leadership teams manage the moment, and sales teams focus on shipping goods already sold, either to meet demand or to plug revenue gaps, marketing can help their customers and prospects to test new ideas and, by using data, measure their performance.
- at all costs, use data to measure performance and direct effort - discover what actually works, and point in that direction
Businesses of every size and in most markets are facing similar challenges: how to engage with nervous customers, how to loosen spend in nervous markets, how to position their solutions, what are the best strategies to launch products, when attention is understandably focused elsewhere.
With uncertainty and change, there are opportunities to help organisations test new ways of doing things, to test new markets and new messages. No doubt like many organisations, we face challenging decisions made by valuable customers located both here and far away from our Sydney headquarters.
More than ever, marketers must be focused at this time to make it easier for customers to buy what you have to sell. And now more than ever is the opportunity to help your customers consider where and how digital platforms can support their marketing.
For every event that is cancelled or postponed, there is an online alternative that can be leveraged.
If their business or yours relies on face-to-face selling, consider how to use teleconferencing, social selling, video and demos that can be delivered, watched and engaged with wherever your customers are (including, increasingly, at home).
Look to create compelling content. The more engaging your first round of content is, the cheaper the second and subsequent converting touch points can be. With people working remotely and from home, clever content that allows them to easily engage will be valued more than ever. Making it easy to understand how you can help them with a powerful offer delivered with a clear call-to-action can be the starter that is all that's required.
Mechanisms for trials of products may need to change, so consider and create new ways your customers can use to determine if what you have provides them with a new advantage. And keep testing all offer scenarios.
Find where your funnel is leaking. Use this time to remove the grit and barriers that get in the way of your customers' progress through your funnel, and improve your nurture-to-conversion programs and results.
In research published by McKinsey this month, 83% of global CEOs surveyed said they look to marketing as a major driver for most of their companies' growth. McKinsey also noted that marketing departments must be wired for speed, collaboration and customer focus.
The current market conditions therefore serve to sharpen marketers' minds, and data will in many cases be the lubrication that helps hone this new marketing edge, and helps businesses build business cases to make faster decisions. Having been through downturns and market uncertainty before, I have seen first-hand how the decision making process can be sped up if you offer a new or easier way of doing things.
So marketers, deploy creativity where it delivers leads or revenue. Get your data in order. Rethink your program content and marketing strategies.
Focus on current customers - they will keep you afloat, deserve your attention and will be your advocates when the upswing returns.
And be clear where your value is today and for the future. That way you get to comfortably ride into the future.