Photo by JC Gellidon

Stay Lean and Keep Marketing

It can be tempting to halt all marketing and outreach efforts at a time like this, but with perhaps a few exceptions, I believe this would be a mistake.

In the B2B space, our prospects and customers are facing disruption and risks to their business across internal and external stakeholders. Simple things are no longer straight forward; from productivity, hiring, hosting meetings and even communicating priorities, leaders are searching for new solutions. We are also seeing significant impacts to product relevance, channel performance and customer behaviours. Each one of these presents opportunities to support our clients with new, modified or existing products and services.

B2C is no different. People are scrambling to set up home offices, deal with layoffs and understand what all of this means to them and their families. At the same time, there are new demands on entertainment, internet and social platforms. As humans, we yearn for connection even as we are working to socially isolate ourselves. If there was a time when people would be more likely to fire or hire products and services, this is it.

There’s been a lot of talk about how certain industries should stop marketing, specifically retail, travel and event-based. I don’t necessarily agree. If by marketing, we mean spamming people with ads for things they can’t attend or use, then sure. But let’s be clear that this isn’t marketing. In today’s world, every firm has an opportunity and a duty to understand their customers and find better ways to communicate how they can assist or be of value. This is marketing.

This is the moment to let our customers know that they truly matter and that we care about more than just profits. That’s the kind of marketing that builds brands and loyalty.

It is important that we pause and recalibrate on who our audience is and what they are experiencing. This has to be done quickly. We don’t have months to do market research. We need to understand the opportunities and disconnects emerging today.

It is also a time to re-assess the values of our organizations and show the world whether we walk the talk. I’ve seen SaaS providers waiving restrictions on their trial products in order to help those impacted. Communication conglomerates have halted overage fees and some banks have even moved to support consumers during a time of increasing worry around debt payments.

This is not a great time for pre-scheduled social and campaign messaging, especially those outsourced to agencies, PR firms or social media teams.

The days of managing our communication campaigns on a weekly or monthly basis are definitely over. Even a three day window can be problematic as our messages might land during a new pandemic announcement we couldn’t have foreseen.

We need to be nimble and responsive during this time. This requires in-house roles that are aligned and empowered to act in the moment.

This shift is going to fundamentally change so many of the things we take for granted in the business world, for better and worse.

We won’t be returning to business-as-usual when this is over. What we learn over the coming weeks is going to highlight mission-critical-risks just as much as it’s going to uncover new opportunities for disruption and value-creation.

As marketers, this is our time to lead.

Sean is a brand marketer, podcaster and co-founder of Fable and Folly. https://fableandfolly.com/