An extended quote about creativity in a crisis is circulating around the internet more in these times. It is most often attributed to Albert Einstein, but there is some debate whether that is accurate. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. The insight is what’s important. The quote states:
Let’s not pretend that things will change if we keep doing the same things. A crisis can be a real blessing to any person, to any nation. For all crises bring progress.
Creativity is born from anguish, just like the day is born from the dark night. It’s in crisis that inventiveness is born, as well as discoveries made and big strategies. He who overcomes crisis, overcomes himself, without getting overcome. He who blames his failure to a crisis neglects his own talent and is more interested in problems than in solutions.
Americans from all walks of life have been forced to find new ways to do what they do since the COVID-19 outbreak. That’s critical in the world of medicine, of course, but also important in all aspects of business. Whether or not the U.S. enters an extended economic depression as a result of the pandemic remains to be seen.
B2B sales and marketing leaders have offered valuable and creative ideas for adjusting to the “new normal” that may exist long after the health scare has subsided. We’re sharing some of those ideas here.
Redirecting event and sponsorship budgets
“With a lack of in-person events and sponsorship opportunities leaving a gap in demand gen’s pipeline, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Well, kind of,” says Kate Adams, vice president of marketing for Drift, a lead-generation platform. Now is the time to invest in digital marketing strategies. Here’s how Adams plans to reinvest her event and sponsorship dollars:
- Digital advertising: What will separate the winners from the losers is having a strong strategy and coupling that with creative assets and messaging to set your company apart. Don’t just throw more money behind ads and call it a day. Experiment and put the time and resources behind your paid ads to get the most bang for your buck. Try different assets.
- Email marketing: Putting a good email marketing program in place can take a village. Adams recommends putting some amazing marketing operations people in place to keep your demand gen team honest.
- SEO and organic content: You need a steady flow of content to maintain organic traffic. But you also want high-quality, SEO-rich content that will pay off in the long-term. Invest in tools that can help team members scale their efforts and make more strategic decisions around the content they create (i.e., don’t just write in a vacuum).
Adams encourages making increased use of partnerships. “Why minimize your marketing effort to just your company and team? Use your network of customers, partners and peers to amplify your efforts. If you’re looking to address a possible dip in leads due to event cancellations, lead-sharing partnerships are a great way to make up the difference. From webinars to eBooks to virtual events, there’s a lot of different ways to go about this.”
She cautions companies that work with outside partners to make sure they have similar ideal customer profiles, that they share the cost and effort of promotion equally, and that they agree to terms on how and when to follow up leads.
More guiding, less selling
“Unless you are selling hospital masks or ventilators, no one wants to hear that ‘now is a great time to buy XYZ,’ says Peter Isaacson, chief marketing officer at Demandbase, a personalization platform for B2B companies. At the same time, your buyers may be confused about how to work with the partners they need to in order to perform their jobs. “Taking a consultative approach, in which you are legitimately offering advice and guidance, along with concrete tips on how to adapt to these extraordinary times, goes a long way. Maybe this will lead to a meeting to discuss how your products or services can help. Or maybe it just positions you as a thoughtful leader during difficult times. Either way, you are setting yourself up for success in the long term,” says Isaacson.
He also emphasizes that now is the time to tighten your sales and marketing alignment. This starts by identifying your target accounts and how both teams engage with those accounts. “Marketing should be enabling sales to close deals by delivering holistic insights into digital signals, such as website engagement and broader web activity.”
Improve your social listening
The social conversations that occur in your industry are a gold mine of information that can steer your product development and marketing efforts. The best listeners will leap out front in new product and service development.
“By analyzing customer data on social platforms, companies can now map and update customer preferences and monitor how they connect with and influence one another,” state data analysts Pedro Yip and Oliver Wyman in an article for MIT Sloan Management Review.
Yip and Wyman say that social listening to date has mostly been limited to monitoring the number of times a brand is mentioned (buzz) and whether the content is positive or negative (sentiment). Taking social listening to the next level requires a combination of natural language processing and consumer insights from other sources. Techniques such as natural language processing and machine learning are now helping product makers deduce more precisely what consumers are saying, leading them to effective decisions in response.
“By bringing manufacturers closer to consumers, social listening can facilitate the development of customized products for specific groups.” Few companies are currently making the most of social listening techniques, but that’s not for lack of social media data to work with.