Navigating lead generation marketing strategies during COVID-19
These are strange, challenging times indeed for companies. Most are questioning their sales lead generation marketing strategies. No need to reiterate “COVID-19,” as the major news media has that more than covered – so much so, in fact, that many of us have found ourselves needing to limit our exposure to it.
As we all work to come to terms with whatever exactly this “new normal” is, businesses everywhere have had to make drastic changes in a very short amount of time for their financial survival. It’s a crisis. It’s certainly stressful.
But it’s also, believe it or not, actually an opportunity.
Yes, you read that right. An opportunity. No, not the “price gouging and fear mongering” kind of opportunity ($30 CDN disinfectant wipes, anyone?), the “build strong connections, offer real value and lead by example” kind of opportunity.
In times like this, you should be slashing budgets for your lead generation marketing strategies, right? Wrong. So very wrong. But, the fact that some of your competitors are likely taking the “hibernation approach” right now will work highly in your favour. Hence the opportunity.
The worst thing you can do right now is disappear.
There is a saying in the industry: “When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise.” It’s actually more expensive in the long run to leave and then try to regain your market presence. To really take advantage of the current situation, you need to speak when your competitors are silent.
“The money you save by cutting lead generation budgets is actually pretty insignificant when you compare it to the profits lost in the long term,” says Leigh-Ann Clarke, Vice President with marketing and communications consultancy Clever Samurai.
This theory is backed up by Forbes as well, who say that “When marketers cut back on their ad spending, the brand loses its “share of mind” with consumers, with the potential of losing current – and possibly future – sales. An increase in “share of voice” typically leads to in an increase in “share of market.””
You literally have a captive (and more receptive) audience.
If there was ever a time for lead nurturing and acquisition, it’s now. Most of us have found ourselves with extra time, working from home, online for the better part of the day, and, with social distancing being the new normal, longing for human connection and reassurance.
There is an emotional receptivity that simply did not exist before. This is the time to build those relationships, because it’s a proven fact that when customers feel inspired and confident, they are more likely to purchase.
It’s also an ideal time to examine all points of your sales funnel and marketing strategies (which companies like 360 Leads® can help you with). And if your client base includes any essential industries like healthcare or grocery stores, you should assume they’re looking for anything that might make their jobs easier right now.
“By making an effort to connect now instead of staying silent until things improve, you can make enough of an impact for them to choose you over a competitor,” adds Clarke. “And true connections beget more connections. For instance, a personal recommendation is even more prized than flashy advertising when customers are cost-conscious. Reaching out is how you will get those coveted online reviews, social media shares and word of mouth references.”
Research tells us that taking the risk pays off.
We might not have a collection of research on advertising in a global pandemic, but we do know that companies that invest in marketing during an economic crisis do better.
McGraw-Hill Research’s Laboratory of Advertising Performance studied the business performance of 600 industrial companies during the U.S. recession of 1981-1982. Those that maintained or increased their B2B marketing strategies spending averaged significantly higher sales growth both during the recession, and for the following three years, than those that eliminated or decreased marketing.
The study also found that those companies that were aggressive in their marketing strategies during the recession achieved a whopping 256% rise in sales over companies that chose to cut marketing spending.
The American Business Press and Meldrum & Fewsmith also have historically robust research on B2B advertisers in years of recession. In one study, they reported that “The findings of the six recession studies to date present formidable evidence that cutting advertising appropriations in times of economic downturns can result in both immediate and long-term negative effects on sales and profit levels.”
Look at what marketing strategies the brand leaders are doing.
You may have noticed that some big brands have already released custom ads for the current pandemic conditions. You’ll notice certain commonalities throughout all of them: they are highly relevant, subdued versus flashy, honestly and earnestly explaining what they are doing to better help their customers during this time. Many are also making the effort to thank the health care workers, while encouraging social distancing to prevent the spread.
It’s time to be creative and lead by example.
If you haven’t already, you’ll want to share how your company has taken measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and ways that you have been supporting your community. This opens the door to ask how, specifically, you can help your current and potential leads.
From webinars and interactive livestreams to downloadable eBooks and free trials, there are a plethora of “contact free” and “social distancing friendly” lead magnets to try. But remember: the last thing you want to be seen as is a company trying to capitalize off of a scary situation. Be available, be transparent, be relevant and most importantly, be empathetic.
Remember, leaders rise in a time of crisis. In a time when there are plenty of voices of panic, you can be the voice of peace. When you’re ready to get started with your sales lead generation marketing strategies, we’re here for you.