June 19, 2020

 

For many of us the pandemic has challenged our businesses. Even the strongest of brands have had to find ways to stay in touch with their communities & customers by adapting their services and products.  Restaurants very quickly started to provide online ordering, delivery and take away services, fitness instructors, who lost their income overnight, took their sessions online, many not charging, in the hope that it will continue to build on their communities for when the ‘new normal’ starts.  Beauticians started to focus on product-based selling rather than giving their normal face to face services.

Some business transformations have been even more dramatic. Manufacturing companies turned to producing PPE and some breweries pivoted to make hand sanitizer.

Many brands realised very quickly that their digital store front has never been so important.  Customer behaviour changed dramatically and they are now more digitally savvy than ever, with heightened expectations for digital experiences.  Brands must deliver on this.

They also realised their limitations in their data, e-commerce and technology, the need to deliver better quality customer engagement is now high.

Brands are looking forward to returning to normal, but they need to be planning for the ‘new normal’.  This pandemic has changed customer behaviour, and I cannot see it going back to the ‘old normal’ – I think it will be a mix of both.

If we use restaurants as an example, they may decide to continue their takeaway and delivery services.  The same as someone who moved their face to face consultations online. It’s a much more flexible option that could be a permanent part of their business strategy. Universities have been forced to evolve to video conferencing solutions instead of classrooms. With the cost of higher education and student loans worrying these generations and students becoming comfortable with this lower-cost alternative, will COVID-19’s impact disrupt the entire system?

The global pandemic has questioned our way of working and brands now need to look at the changes that they made, the ones that have been embraced by their customers and ensure that they continue to provide the same service moving forward.

The brands that emerge strongest on the other side of this crisis will be the ones that took the time to deepen their connections with their customers and communities, rather than merely adding to the COVID noise.

How has Covid-19 changed your business?

 May 26, 2020

So, we’ve been going through lots of uncertainty recently and I have seen a mixed reaction from my clients and my network.

Some stopped all marketing activity as they thought there were no benefits to continue during a pandemic.  But some have been really resilient and taken my advice to carry on but to pivot and adapt.

Now, we need to focus on the ‘new normal’, take our learnings from the last 2 months and put them into practice.

We know that the pandemic will have a lasting impact on business and society, but it’s now time to look at your marketing and evaluate whether it is still applicable to your target audience.  Does it still make sense?  Does it still fit their needs?

Your customer needs

It’s important to determine what your customer’s needs are.

Have their needs changed? What are they expecting from you?  What can you provide them?

During lockdown, people focused on necessities and staying safe.  They probably bought things that they would not normally buy.  Online shopping soared, and due to convenience, and the fact that the virus hasn’t totally gone away, this may not change.

Match your activity to meet new customer needs

It’s important to remember that meeting your customers’ needs is an ongoing process. Whether it’s two months post-pandemic or two years, you should always…

Listen

From monitoring your customer reviews to sending out a questionnaire, it’s never been more important to take your customers’ feelings into consideration. Listening on social media can also be a great way to check how your customers are interacting with your brand and content and your competitors.  Then, use what you’ve learnt to tweak your marketing strategy going forward.

Engage

People will still be spending lots of time at home in the near future, so create uplifting, inspiring and informative content for your website, social media accounts, paid ads and newsletters.  Pay attention to changing trends in your industry and customer behaviour to guide your content strategy. Think about how your customers might be using your products or services and give them good content.

No matter what you sell, communicating with and reassuring the customer is still paramount.

And remember: your customers can tell the difference between a sales gimmick and authenticity, so make sure you’re communicating value every time.

Communicate

A large part of pivoting your business model will include how you communicate with your customers.

For example, salons and spas have been closed for months, and even once they reopen, customers will want to know what steps they’re taking to protect their health.

Some customers won’t feel comfortable stepping into a hair salon unless they know there are certain health measures in place.

Don’t be too hasty to remove your COVID-19 landing page⁠ or health and safety messaging from your website, look at updating the copy with new information to put your clients’ minds at ease.

Address

Addressing what worked during the lockdown may help you to evolve. You may need to pivot your marketing strategy to approach different spending behaviours.  Many people have been hit hard financially and won’t have as much disposable income.

Others will have become accustomed to a new way of doing things. COVID-19 has changed the way that people consume certain services.

For example, a school may have to integrate more online learning into their model to attract students who are now used to and more comfortable with remote classes.

Many organisations will be rethinking in-person conferences and other events.  Will employees want to travel to huge venues to network with other attendees? Or, will they be happy with an online conference next year?

We don’t know what the future holds, but by pivoting your business model now you’ll be ready.

 

 April 28, 2020

A quick and effective way to increase your presence on social media and to increase your employee brand is to ask your employees to share more about your business on social media.

But, to do this you need guidelines.  Below are the steps to think about when you embark on company-wide posting:

Create a clear social media guideline for your employees to follow

As a marketer, we consider social media a second home, but the same may not be true for all of your employees.  They are great at posting on their own social media profiles, but posting from a business/professional perspective is totally different.  Research has shown that a significant number of employees feel that they haven’t been given clear guidelines for approaching social media. And, with an increasing amount of stories about employees being fired for something that they have posted, it’s one of the many reasons why it’s a good idea to create a social media guide that will introduce your employees to social media from a professional point of view.

Having your employees engaged in the social media activity builds on your brand and it makes business more personal and human – all media presence should reflect that.  They should be an important part of your social media strategy.

The guide can be as extensive as you wish, but should cover the following areas:

Give engagement guidance

Once you get your program rolling, you’ll be encouraging employees to jump onto conversations about your brand online, so one part of your social media guideline should be listing the rules your employees should adhere to. Here are some key points to address when engaging with customers on social media:

  • Identify the types of customers employees should not engage with online. Teach them how to recognise and avoid trolls and other negative comments that don’t warrant a response.
  • Share your most frequently asked questions (FAQs) and official responses as a guide. Having this will give employees the confidence to jump in. Reading the answers to FAQs will also familiarise them with the tone of voice used in each situation. However, you don’t want everyone to simply repeat the same sentence from the guide. Instead, encourage employees to use their own words when possible.
  • Make sure employees only promise what they know they can deliver.
  • When it comes to the actual response, employees might struggle with striking the right tone between professional and personal. When in doubt, their responses should be factually accurate, polite and respectful. And of course, correct spelling and grammar!

Give branding guidance

Identify key brand elements that employees should pay attention to when communicating with customers on social media. While each employee should make those interactions their own, they should also be mindful of your brand persona and voice, and the feel of your messages and responses online.

If your brand persona involves using business language, you might not want employees taking a casual tone. On the flip side, a trendy brand, like Innocent Drinks (who have got it so right btw) might not want their employees to use a stiff, professional voice while communicating with customers on social media.

Give platform behaviour guidance

If you want your staff to feel confident enough to share content or engage in conversations online, you have to teach them about the rules of communication on different social media platforms. How often have you seen people sharing content on LinkedIn that’s more appropriate for Instagram? There are differences between all platforms so, to avoid confusion, give platform-specific guidelines to your employees

Create a branded hashtag to curate employee posts

Creating a unique branded hashtag is a clever way to use hashtags to your advantage. A dedicated hashtag will make it easy to round up the posts your employees have published and to re-share them on the company’s official account. When someone clicks on your branded hashtag, they’ll see a combination of posts that show the other more personal side of your brand.

Encouraging your employees to use the company hashtag will also make it easier for you to monitor what they’re sharing. Despite having the best intentions, sometimes they may not always represent your company appropriately. Regularly reviewing their posts will help you quickly spot content that may be perceived as negative.

You’ll also be able to identify employees who have the potential to do more in their role as brand advocates.

Remember to share day-to-day moments at work

People are much more inclined to engage with social media posts from friends or acquaintances than from brands. Content that isn’t heavily branded—not just an advertisement—and that displays the human side of your business is more likely to resonate with your audience.

So how do you achieve this?  Encourage your employees to share moments from the office that made them smile or brightened their day.  Ask them to post photos from events like office birthday celebrations or memorable days such as ‘bring your dog to work day’. Also, make sure to capture meetings & events that present a positive brand image overall.

Having your employees actively participate in building your company culture and sharing snippets of it on social media platforms will improve brand awareness and boost your company’s image.

You can also use your employees to gather your social media content.  Create a shared file for interesting photos. This will allow you to create a feed filled with candid photographs, capturing all of those small moments and interactions in the office or in your place of business that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Share Employee Posts on Your Company Social Media Channels

The best way to signal to your employees that they’re a welcome part of your social media presence is by taking that first step and including them and their content on the company social media platforms.

Posts that like this, which are a little imperfect from a technical standpoint but quite heartwarming from the human standpoint, are bound to win the hearts of both your audience and employees.

Conclusion

To better connect with their customers, more than 90{75f288e9ca768cce955a9bb5791c151328b004b83ccd83e596fac878249828cc} of all brands consider social media a trusted tool. And while an official profile of your brand on a social media platform is a great place to start, you can get better outreach and increased brand awareness by tapping into an asset your company already has, your employees.

Employee advocates on social media can give your business a much-wanted boost but you must communicate what’s in it for them throughout this process. Many will appreciate the opportunity to build thought leadership. But for those who aren’t comfortable sharing work-related posts on their personal profiles, don’t pressure them to do so.

To get better results from this initiative, it’s important to produce a guide that addresses engagement, branding, and platform-specific interactions and make it available to all employees.

If you need help producing your Employee Social Media Guideline, just let me know.

 April 27, 2020

My guest blog post this week is by Hayley Meakes.

Last year it was predicted that the UK advertising sector would grow by 6.7{75f288e9ca768cce955a9bb5791c151328b004b83ccd83e596fac878249828cc} in 2020 and end the year worth £24bn.

However, as we all know, things haven’t gone according to plan. The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted every sector, including marketing. The lockdown and social distancing measures that have been put in place by governments around the world have essentially nullified the impact of print and out-of-home advertising and events for brands.

Hayley talks around:

  • How brands are reacting to coronavirus
  • Why brands shouldn’t pull the plug on advertising
  • Why brands need to turn to TV and digital ads
  • The importance of influencer marketing as an awareness channel

You can read the full blog post here

 

 

I’ve had many questions from my network since we went into lockdown…

  • Should I be selling during this unprecedented time?
  • Should I stop all marketing, my customers aren’t going to buy?
  • Should I continue to promote my business on social media?

The answer: Keep going – change your approach.

Although you need to sell, you may feel guilty selling at this time, even when we are out of lockdown, but you can still keep in touch with your customers – you just need to reframe and adapt your message.

Keeping in front of mind is the aim, and your customers will still want to hear from you.  But, you need to add value and give help.  Those that are still buying will continue, but those who aren’t will remember that you gave help when they needed it, and will come to you when the ‘new normal’ starts.  Many people are not working during this time and are genuinely worried.  As a default, a spirit of humility and empathy should be a filter for anything you say in the near future.

The things that we are buying now aren’t necessarily the things that we would normally buy. Things we are struggling with now, aren’t necessarily things we would normally struggle with.  Your audience needs may have changed.  We are all buying things that suit our situation.  We are also buying in a different way – we’ve had to move to ‘online’ as most of the non-essential shops have stopped trading.

People will still need the things that you sell, it just might not be now, and you will have to deliver them in a different way.  The need doesn’t go away, the method and tone of delivery has to change.

If you have mind monkeys saying ‘I can’t promote my stuff”‘I can’t be seen to be selling’ remove them.  People are never forced to buy what you offer, they do it out of choice.

So, see where you can help, even if you can’t sell at the moment.   Ask your customers how they are and what they need.  Keep in front of mind. It will bring you great rewards.

If you need any help with what to say during this time, just let me know.

 

 

 

 

 

Agility, patience and resourcefulness are what you need.

 April 20, 2020

 Agility, patience and resourcefulness are what you need.

The challenge facing all marketers is how to generate revenue with so much uncertainty.  Today’s reality is quite different than it was just a few months ago, and that means marketing is more critical than ever.  Activity rolled out now could become the most important, impactful and valuable activities in your company/businesses history.

Here are some tips on how you can manage your marketing efforts in the months ahead.

Keep communicating with your customers

It’s business as usual for your customers and partners and they need to hear that message.  Customers need to see that your business is stable. Be consistent and over-communicate during these uncertain times. They will all be online quite frequently, so be where they are, show up and increase your social activity.  Be helpful, add value. Don’t stop.

Create new tactics to execute planned campaigns

Moving forward with any planned activity will demonstrate that your business is surviving through this downturn.  You may have to adapt the activity and execution will likely require new tactics for this new era.  Embrace new tools and technology, and be willing to learn and adapt quickly.  For example, did you have an event planned?  For now, focus on being the best company at hosting virtual/online events.  Presentations, expert panels, coffee breaks, office hours can be virtualised with some creativity and offer opportunities to build connections and relationships with key audiences.

Invest in team relationships

Maintaining your staff’s trust and your own credibility is a top priority during challenging times. Do not lie about the current climate. Tell the truth and most importantly, come together.  If you roll up your sleeves and power through as a team, you will be stronger and more agile in the future.

Shine as a leader

Leaders shine in challenging times, and now is the time to take that role. Your company needs to know that everyone can rely on the marketing team to lead, and then demonstrate that through action. Map out a few examples of activities your team will be launching in the months ahead, and inspire other departments to do the same, and set the example for proactive teamwork to combat this challenging time.

Help, add value and don’t exploit

If you really have an offering that can help your customers through this time, then offer it. If you don’t, then don’t exploit the pandemic for your own gain. Instead, focus on strengthening customer relationships by being helpful and adding value.  Keep front of mind and customers will likely remember your helpfulness when we come out the other side and your brand will be stronger for it.

Meet. Learn. Share.

 March 27, 2020

Meet.Learn.Share. is a small, friendly & hugely informative co-working group, CREATED FOR local independent business owners, RUN BY a local independent business owner, and normally held at a local independent business in Bournemouth, Poole, and surrounding areas – and it’s FREE.

Due to the ‘C’ word, we are taking this group online for a while. We didn’t want to stop as they were becoming so invaluable, and I think we need it more than ever now.

We have just had our first online meeting, and it was great – the support was unbelievable. It’s good to see that we are all coming together to help each other.

It’s a place to:

MEET like-minded business owners and to build new relationships.

LEARN how to launch your business, promote & grow your business, and to reach your target audience.

SHARE ideas and experiences in a small friendly environment. The group will help you, and you will help them, enabling you to walk away with heaps of new ideas that you can implement straight away.

SUPPORT each other. It’s going to be tough few months for some of us. Having the support and someone to talk to is going to be so important.

Do you need ACCOUNTABILITY? Let’s set some goals and commit to them. Sometimes it’s easier just to work ‘in’ your business and not ‘on’ it. Let’s change that!

Get FREE ACCESS to collective expert advice, ask anything you want! You’ll even get FREE ACCESS to our VIP Facebook Group, where, as a group, we will still continue to help each other between meetings.

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?

Meet. Learn. Share. are now going to meet weekly, every Friday morning, at 9.30 am, via WebEx.

Each meeting is only 1.5 hours, so if time is an issue, but you still want to get motivated and drive your business forward over this challenging time, then these sessions are perfect.

We just ask that everyone brings at least one business/marketing/social media challenge to each session. You will be given lots of ideas on how to resolve your challenge, and you will also learn from all the challenges that others bring to the table, resulting in a pad full of actionable stuff!

And, if you are late, don’t worry – just join us between 9.30 – 11.00.

Just send me a text: 07787 783038, and I will send you the Webex link.

Look forward to seeing you.
Caroline

ps. we have one rule 🙂 this is a co-working group where we help each other, we are not here to sell to each other.

Our sponsor:
http://www.seanmortonproflooring.co.uk/

 

The Changing Landscape of B2B

 January 4, 2020

It’s fair to say that the sales landscape has changed dramatically, as B2B buyers are more empowered, and have total control over their buying journey in a very competitive marketplace.

It’s now more challenging to move buyers into the sales funnel.

It’s important that sales and marketing teams learn to adapt to their buyers’ journey or lose them to a competitor, who is probably ahead of the game and has already started to integrate new modern sales and marketing techniques.

Historically, the buying process relied heavily on sales to initiate contact and drive conversations. But now calls aren’t being answered, emails aren’t being opened and events aren’t being attended.  Going in ‘cold’, using traditional sales and marketing techniques just isn’t working as a stand-alone activity, as the buyer – who has a short attention span – can choose how they are sold to, the method they want to receive marketing/sales information and when they want to consume it – not when you want them to.

(more…)