Nothing about this year has been predictable -- and that includes marketing and sales projections. We've all had to rethink our COVID-19 marketing strategy.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, a staggering 84% of reps report missing their quotas, compared with 57% in 2019, according to research from RevenueGrid. Surviving and thriving in that environment has required throwing out the old playbooks and building new ones.
For Lisa Farrell, marketing manager at Berkshire and balanceTRAK, that meant moving away from a focus on closing new deals in the short term to focusing on building long-term relationships. In her Managing Editor Live 2020 session, Lisa told her story of pivoting their marketing strategy for COVID-19. Here are a few highlights of what she shared.
Revisit Your Goals
A big part of balanceTRAK’s original 2020 marketing plan was to attend several small, niche conferences where they could interact with prospects. When the shutdown happened, that plan imploded. Lisa and her marketing team had to walk back their plan to understand what they really wanted to get out of those events.
But a bigger problem for Lisa was that, going into a recession, balanceTRAK’s product and message didn’t meet the moment. Topics from their original editorial calendar included a deep dive into unconscious bias, which is a great topic but not something that resonated with their target audience’s most urgent needs. Lisa was afraid that sticking to the plan would appear insensitive and tone-deaf, and that since it didn’t resonate, even great content wouldn’t get any traffic.
So her COVID-19 marketing strategy started with stepping back to get a broader view of her goals. Here are the goals that emerged, in order of priority:
- Build brand authority
- Grow the database
- Sell more subscriptions
Taking a broader focus on long-term goals helped Lisa prioritize people over sales during the crisis, giving her the freedom to produce content that drove balanceTRAK’s brand authority and also allowed her to support the HR community through the COVID-19 crisis.
Lean Into Your Strengths
Both balanceTRAK and its parent brand, Berkshire, have a strong reputation for hosting high-quality webinars, so that’s what Lisa pivoted to in place of in-person conferences for the COVID-19 marketing strategy. They committed to one webinar per month, paired with social advertising and guest partners.
With this new COVID-19 marketing strategy, Lisa’s goal was to gather contacts and build relationships, and she enforced a strict no-pitching rule. She intended to gather contacts organically by providing value first.
When choosing topics and guests and producing the webinars, Lisa and her team sought to answer three distinctly human questions:
- Is the content accurate?
- Is the tone kind?
- Is the webinar helpful?
Prioritizing webinar attendees and their needs helped Lisa and her team create value for potential clients and customers. One of their webinars tackled layoffs and furloughs, for example. This is a tough topic, but they handled it with sensitivity. Another webinar dealt with employee morale and focused on ensuring that employees are OK (this was the most popular one!)
Provide Great Content — and Build Trust
The kind, helpful content produced by Lisa and her team earned a boost in organic contacts and traffic, which aligned with Lisa’s marketing goal, which was to earn trust for the brand. And their people-first approach paid off big time.
Lisa believes that their on-the-fly Plan B has been more successful than their original strategy would have been. Webinar attendees signed up and watched balanceTRAK’s webinars for the great value provided by the content. Simply attending a conference or trade show doesn’t offer the same organic opportunities for building trust.
Lisa and her team learned that it’s OK to pump the brakes on selling. Focusing on meeting the needs of real people establishes trust and respects what people are going through during times of crisis.
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