Last month I attended a B2B marketing conference – remotely, of course! – and the consensus was that marketing has needed to adapt more quickly than ever before to the new emotional state of customers. Because of the uncertainty and stresses that 2020 brought us, the whole world is experiencing some form of PTSD and one stage or another of the grieving process. Between the tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it’s changed our lives, the endless news around the US election, and social unrest around the world – it’s clear that most people are not doing business as usual.
And how could they?
With ever changing restrictions, office closures, and kids being schooled at home – not to mention fluctuations in leads and sales – everyone’s mental health is suffering. A study conducted in summer of 2020 suggests that 42% of employees across the world have experienced a decline in mental health since the start of the pandemic. Brought about by stress, uncertainty, and a feeling of disconnection – our anxieties are following us to work via our short commute from the coffee maker to our “desk”. People all over the world are grieving – they’re missing the way they used to work and play, missing their loved ones, and even missing something as simple as a handshake.
Given that our brains work differently in times of grief and undue stress, and that more B2B transactions are now being done remotely, our marketing strategies need to adapt to new decision making processes. Our historical data is no longer relevant in today’s marketplace – so what does this mean for traditional marketing?
Traditional Marketing is No Longer Traditional
As the world continues to experience a different and changing “normal” we’ve seen these changes reflected in how people engage with marketing tactics. Emotions drive decision-making in an anxious mind, which will either act on impulse or delay making a choice due to decision-fatigue. Here’s what’s different now.
The Buying Process Has Changed
We’ve been marketing to pain points for a long time, but now it’s even more crucial. If we can show our audience how a product or service will make their life better, alleviate stress, or make them the hero – and keep it compelling and succinct – we will win their business.
People are doing more research than ever, perusing your website, scanning blogs, and scrolling through your social media feeds. How you can solve their problems is still critically important, but there is a renewed focus on equity in all arenas, your audience also wants to know:
How does this company engage the world?
Do they give back to the community?
Where do they stand on important issues?
Do their beliefs mirror my own values?
Answering these questions through your digital channels will drive higher quality leads – people who are already on board with your mission and vision.
Metrics Matter More
It’s never been more important to understand your marketing metrics. In order to make informed decisions moving forward, you need to employ the right tools to measure the correct goals. Gone are the days of set it and forget it. Given how quickly news disseminates, you need to be ready to act should something change. No one wants to appear tone-deaf because they missed a chance to stop a suddenly poorly-worded ad from running during a major world event.
None of your statistics from your social program this year will look like your stats from last year. Even on a month-to-month basis, we’re seeing major shifts in behavior. Until we see the other side of the pandemic, they likely won’t make sense as people’s behavior is constantly shifting. Think about how you’re consuming information right now: its periods of intense usage, followed by exhaustion or burn out, right?
Confidence in understanding what the data means, and having a plan to pause and adjust is essential for both efficiency and reputation.
Expectations Need Adjustment
Depending on your products and services, you may find an organic increase or decrease in web traffic during the course of a major event like the one we’re all experiencing now. You know things are different, but have you talked with your team about updating your goals yet?
Here are some questions that could help manage expectations in your company:
How have things changed this year?
What aspects of my program worked during the hard times?
What does the team think are reasonable expectations?
Can I position my products or services to alleviate pain points related to the changes brought on by the pandemic?
Make sure you adjust your goals appropriately to keep your team engaged.
So, Now What?
None of these changes are bad news. It just means marketing is different and we need to adapt. While things are changing, people are still online and engaged. While their behavior may not be entirely predictable, we can reach them and we can listen, learn, and adjust our strategies as needed.
Now is the time to explore the new emotions in play around your product or service – and create more informational, educational, and experiential digital content to help your audience through their new decision making processes. Engaging a content writer to help you update your assets brings outside perspective, fresh ideas and an understanding of post-COVID marketing strategies.
Breathing educational opportunities and new emotion into the following content tactics have been working for our clients in 2020:
Refined web content
Things are still hard to predict but we start with best practices, test new ideas, iterate, and reiterate. While agility is important, we also like to see our clients stick to their plan and gather enough data before making a big programmatic change. Lulls in engagement may not be as simple as “this creative isn’t working” and likely has more to do with the digital climate – or the fact that the whole planet has a form of PTSD!
We work with international life sciences, pharma services and manufacturing brands in countries all over the world, including India, Canada, Australia, UK, the US and EU. If you need help adapting your marketing content for what’s to come in 2021, reach out for a free consultation.