Three Simple Steps for Marketing Flexibility During Disruption
A guest post from Shawna Boyce, Executive Director, Accounts & Operations at Launch Marketing
As the song says, “the times they are a changing.” Adopting an agile mindset and flexibility in marketing initiatives to adapt to these changes amid the current crisis will be pivotal for companies to emerge in the strongest possible position. All too often though, an assumption is made that teams and their respective members can simply act faster or easily turn things in a wholly new direction to adapt and innovate. But as entrepreneur and engineer Ray Stata notes, innovation typically only happens if an organization is truly built around agility.
“I concluded long ago that limits to innovation have less to do with technology or creativity than organizational agility. Inspired individuals can only do so much.” – Ray Stata
To help streamline your organization’s path to greater marketing flexibility and adaptation, we’ve outlined three simple steps that can get your organization positioned for innovation and growth as people struggle to find a new normal.
Ensure an Agile-enabled Foundation
The first step an organization should take to support flexible and agile approaches is to demonstrate organizational stability. This may seem like an aspirational and inexact concept, but it is an important one. To move fluidly and adapt to changing situations, team members need to work from a solid foundation that fosters security and confidence; an atmosphere and culture that promotes psychological safety. These are environments where team members can calmly and quickly respond to issues and opportunities with ease as they arise.
A strong sense of focus also supports this direction. While creativity is beneficial, alignment on the primary goals the team should collectively work towards remains critical. Having a shared direction and purpose as conditions rapidly change is necessary to mitigate distractions. Further, each individual should have clarity on their responsibilities and how they contribute to the whole. Regular check-ins to ensure this understanding and alignment will build stronger connections and buy-in.
Seeing these directives through promotes feelings of accomplishment and control in situations that otherwise feel dysfunctional and unpredictable.
Assess and Adjust Messaging and Positioning Consistently
While most plans allow room for small disruptions, none were formed with the current and unprecedented level of disruption in mind. As a result, virtually every business has had to enact swift and sudden changes. Naturally, levels of success have varied as some have replaced swift with hasty.
These are highly fluid times, and business plans and messaging must be monitored and modified as needed to meet them. Revisit company messaging and positioning in a deliberate manner and from multiple perspectives. Get ideas and inputs from team members and, where possible, from customer prospects and customers by exploring questions such as:
- Can our product or service address challenges borne out of the current circumstances? (e.g., Does our product or service make working remote easier or more secure?)
- Do the value proposition points we currently emphasize need modification to better reflect current priorities?
- Is the messaging we have in place relevant and does it carry the right level of compassion?
- Are there offers, discounts, promotions, or purchase term adjustments that would potentially convert more opportunities?
Again, it is imperative that leaders demonstrate flexibility and ask their team to do the same. Regularly reassess changes to market conditions and customer challenges and adjust messaging, offerings, and tactics accordingly. Formally dedicate time to this ongoing assessment and do not expect that it will simply happen organically.
Embrace Digital Communication in New Ways
The absence of in-person events and shifting availabilities make the ability to connect with audiences via digital channels more important now than ever. If you’ve not yet fully embraced digital engagement, now is the time.
- Webinars – With the cascade of conference and event cancellations we’ve all seen, brands can still use webinars and virtual events as a way to connect with key audiences. And because webinars can be recorded, they create a mechanism for ongoing lead generation. NOTE: Consider shorter webinars (e.g., 20-30 minutes) to make it easier for attendees to participate.
- Email – While brands shouldn’t look for ways to simply send more emails, they should assess whether there is information that would be valuable for their audiences to receive in this medium. It is also important to determine whether any automated or already queued emails need adjustments. An eMarketer study found the ROI of B2B email to be 122% and most marketers still cite email as their most effective revenue generation channel.
- Feedback Loops, FAQs, and Chat – Establish convenient channels or forums where prospects and customers can ask questions and get answers on their own terms. If these channels aren’t in place today, consider implementing them and, at the very least, remind audiences of the information paths currently available. Zoom is an example of one of many brands who are taking meaningful steps during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure their audiences remain informed in a way that is thoughtful while still showcasing their solutions.
Flexibility for the Future
As we’ve shared, most business and marketing strategies were not conceived with disruptors like the coronavirus even remotely in mind. But responding to the business challenges the pandemic has wrought is something that business leaders are well-suited to help address. A deliberate review and reassessment of your organization across these elements, within the context of this temporary new normal, is a helpful construct to ensure your business remains agile throughout this crisis and beyond.
Need more marketing support and resources? Visit the COVID-19 Marketing & Strategy Resources Center for up-to-date marketing blogs, toolkits and more.