As the world got hit with a pandemic marketing budgets across the globe also got hit hard. Some marketing executives out there are asking themselves if and when they’ll get their advertising $$$ back. I think we need to take some time to regroup and refocus on realigning marketing with (new) business priorities.

What I’m advocating for in this article is for us, digital marketers, to spend this time in a more strategic way, building marketing strategies that outlive the media buy cycle. Focus on leveraging internal resources to come up with content that our users NEED., not just what our product owners want.

I say this because I’ve seen this over and over with small and big clients. Blast campaigns with 3–5 ad creatives that send people to that one landing page that gets the user to click ‘Submit’ and sends and email contact to a salesperson. When we get the campaign budget approved, we seem to forget all about user persona, intent, click funnels, lifetime value of a customer, relevant messaging. Unfortunately, most of the time when campaign budgets get approved the marketing strategy is forgotten.

Now that advertising campaigns are paused and we escaped the brief-media plan-report-report-report cycle, we actually have time to refocus on content strategy and the value it brings our clients and our colleagues. Remember the PR team? the sales team? the talent acquisition team? Yes, the content you as a digital marketer provide should support ALL of those teams, not just your own marketing needs.

So let’s pause for a while. Ask ourselves some questions, reassess the strategy and internal resources available.

What changed in your business during/after this world crisis?

It might be business priorities/goals. It might be the supply chain or the way in which you deliver your product. It might be how you close the sale.

Personal trainers are a great example. some of them have changed their business models substantially: from being collaborators with established brick and mortar gyms, they’ve changed to delivering their own training live online via webcast for small fees. Other examples include all kinds of educational content (formal education, coaches, psychotherapists. STEAM education hubs) or even B2B companies (so long, tradeshows and live events! no more lists of leads, farewell building connections/personal relationships).

What are the (new) business goals marketing needs to support?

Survive the crisis? That might translate into customer loyalty programs and a higher focus on customer support as well as upselling programs provided you have relevant products/offers for your customer base.

Brand reputation? Your investors do not need a reason to distrust you in these times. Focus on mitigating risks, closely monitor any customer reaction and keep your stakeholders happy. Employees are stakeholders, too, and sometimes they can be the greatest reputational risk. When you’re done analyzing risks, also look at your leaders and assess if you can launch/boost a thought leadership program.

Redesign the sales process to allow users to buy your product online? You need an eCommerce expert asap. And some work on your website and payment process, a payment processor and a UX/UI designer to help. You probably will need outside resources and $$$ to invest in all these upgrades. You might even have to learn some new tricks yourself. Improvise, adapt, overcome, right?

What teams/functions need digital media support?

Some of those teams might need your support — salespeople might need help in figuring out what is the best webinar app out there or how to leverage new digital tools to contact potential leads; talent acquisition people might need to figure out how to communicate with potential hires during these months of uncertainty (email marketing to the rescue?). Some Project Managers might need your help to reassess project management tools — they need to be more agile in this crisis, but communicating with their teams is harder than ever and some of them don’t have communication skills, they’re engineers.

Q&A done, now (re)write your strategy.

Start with the business need. Always the business need. Let’s say ours is to survive the financial crisis that follows the crisis (whose isn’t it?). This is what my strategy would focus on:

Deliver stellar customer support for the existing clients. I’d get my customer support people to pay even more attention to support cases logged in via social media. I might reassess the FAQ page and build more content on how to use our product/services. I’d create some quick and easy to understand video content for customer support, helpful how-to articles for the content hub that the customer support team might link to in their responses.

Revamp existing content, focus on evergreen content. 

Some ideas might include:

  • Getting audio in the mix: a)add audio versions to the content hub articles, b) turn relevant evergreen pieces of content into an audiobook, c) start a podcast or get promoted on one, d) record Q&As with product engineers and salespeople on industry trends and their thoughts on how the industry might change after the pandemic.
  • Support the sales teams. What better opportunity to become friends? I’d help them revamp their sales pitches/decks. Create great video training for them on how to leverage digital channels to sell online. Support them in figuring out how to do webinars and work together to come up with a playbook on how to make & promote webinars for all teams. Create social content for them to share and teach them how to do it in a professional way. How about an online demo of your product?
  • Come up with alternate products, digital products. Start building them. Ideally, you know your audience well enough to be able to list their pain points and come up with potential digital solutions.

Maybe you could build an online academy for professionals in your industry? Say. Your-Brand-Academy? You could award certificates for a fee in case your company has proprietary tools/programs/apps. Look at UiPath: it needed to educate the market about their products so they built an academy around process automation, their products, and offerings. They do not charge for it (yet), but it is one of their major digital initiatives. Other players in the SaaS for the digital marketing industry (Hubspot, Ahref) built these online training and are charging as much as 799 euros for one course! And they also use them as a great tactic to promote their own product. I took the Ahref Blogging for Business course and I can tell you that they were plugging in their product every couple of minutes, it looked like you couldn’t do any blogging without their SEO tool.

Or you could leverage these courses/exams and require your company’s potential hires to take the test before joining the company? this way you’d also help the talent acquisition team qualify their leads and improve the recruitment process.

See how all of the above tactics fall under the bigger picture strategy? Optimize processes to help the business do much with less and survive a difficult financial crisis that we all know it’s coming. The best thing about it? Most likely, most if not all of them can be done with internal resources. Because digital marketers are agile, they could do all of this and more. And if they don’t know how, they can learn.