By Sandra Skairjeh, head of marketing – emerging markets and international channel marketing – Micro Focus
The pandemic has had a significant impact on businesses and how they engage with customers, even influencing a change in business models. Every marketer has had to race against time to rethink communications strategies – shifting entirely from the physical to a virtual world.
As restrictions in social distancing are being slightly lifted, “The New Normal” will most likely bear witness to innovative hybrid marketing approaches. So as marketers, what must we be mindful of?
- Stay relevant, especially in these times of digital overload
Digital overload is a phenomenon that all marketers are facing now. Media channels and platforms are being oversaturated with webinars, digital campaigns and more. Submerging customers with continuous content could lead to short-term gains. However, you could set yourself up for negative brand perception over the long run. As marketers, ask yourselves: will one more article or a video make any difference, and is it relevant?
You need to differentiate yourself from the pack and stand out. When it comes to content, ensure you walk in your customers’ shoes, address their pain points and identify the value they seek. Having such an empathetic perspective can be a priceless asset in positioning your product or service as the plausible solution. Contemporary customers prefer watching real-life testimonials, the brand’s story and its impact on society at large, as opposed to a technical sales pitch.
Tip: A way to choose relevant content to focus on is to stay abreast of trending topics for your business on the search engines. If you know what type of search results are showing up more frequently right now, you can create fresh content along those lines. Google Trends would be your best reference.
- Tap into the experience economy
We are witnessing a rise in the experience economy. Modern customers seek relevant, contextualised and personalised experiences instead of generic offerings. Big data technology and marketing automation tools now provide data-derived and personalised solutions to individual requirements, by segmenting audience and targeting engagement. The contemporary buyer responds
to empathy-based marketing, so create rapport and sell an experience, not a product. You may have to redo your marketing focus and investments based on your customers’ buying behaviour patterns, such as: customers who have halted all investment regardless of value proposition presented; customers who are cautiously optimistic and still investing in prioritised solutions with a strong value proposition; and, finally, those customers who still have an immediate need and strong
investment requirement in spite of, or even because of, the New Normal.
Tip: Do not jump on bandwagons that make noise. Facilitate outreach to the right audience, at the right stage of their purchasing journey, on the right platforms. One such technique is social listening, which allows you to gain valuable insights into industry- specific challenges and opportunities, in turn helping you create a unique value proposition.
- Trust the shift: Can virtual really replace physical engagement?
Despite widespread accessibility of technological tools and virtual capabilities, marketers tend to favour physical engagement opportunities. However, the pandemic radically affected the opportunity to host such events. Your best bet, under the circumstances, is to pivot to virtual events. But, is it possible for you to drive the same value in virtual space?
The short answer is yes. The digital sphere is rich with video conferencing and collaboration tools, enabling you to remotely engage large audiences, across vast geographical distances. In fact, virtual events have now gone mainstream as a facilitator of business continuity during the current crisis. Even Google switched its annual in-person Cloud Next conference to a virtual one for 2020.
The New Normal may bring the physical engagement with events back to a certain degree, but after experiencing the benefits of the virtual space we will see more of this in future. Hence, consider a hybrid model that enables the physical touch but also takes advantage of the wider reach, on-demand capabilities and cost efficiencies that the virtual world brings to the table.
Tip: All the standard tools of developing an engaging presentation apply in the virtual world. Articulate your event’s essence through background colour and online design. Reduce monotonous, information-rich slides and introduce engaging testimonials and animations. Even gamification strategy and use of VR can be explored.
- Speak to your customers’ aspirations – in a personalised manner Personalisation remains key to delivering value. In a virtual setup, inbound interest and poll responses allow you to generate data, which enables you to segment your audience and deliver personalised value.
Tip: Offer valuable on-demand sessions and product demos to targeted audiences. Such presentations can be followed by one-on-one, deep-dive Q&A sessions – which are an opportunity to make up for the lost touchpoints you may have had access to in physical interactions.