In a matter of no time, non-essential businesses are closed and people are being told to stay at home.
No one could plan for this. Even with a moderate warning of a couple of months, proper preparation would be nearly impossible.
Enough with the doom and gloom. That is what the news is for.
There will be a day when everyone comes out, licks their wounds, and gets back to normal… whatever that might look like going forward.
But, what do you do between now and then?
Right now, everyone is focused on staying healthy and trying to figure out what’s next. The normal customer buying cycles have been disrupted by all of this. Nearly every single industry has seen a dip in customer inquires and sales.
When customers are distracted, active marketing can feel meaningless.
What is the point of trying to talk to customers if they are not paying attention and making purchasing decisions?
Fight the idea of pulling the covers over your head and waiting until things get back to normal. Savvy business owners find a way when there appears to be zero paths to take.
Your customers still have problems that you can solve. Even if they are currently distracted, these problems have not vanished. They will need the solutions you provide at some point.
NOW you have the opportunity to devote time to marketing activities that will better position you and your business for when customer buying cycles return to normal.
Below are 7 different marketing activities that you can do while your customers are distracted. These action items are ways you can polish up specific tactics that make up your overall marketing strategy.
1: Organize Your Customer Database
A properly maintained customer database (or CRM) is one of your most valuable marketing assets.
The problem is, most of us do not have a properly maintained customer database. That is, if we have one at all.
Keeping a clean database takes time and effort. Every day, team members add new information to the CRM but it does not take long before contacts get lost and information becomes outdated.
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and it is usually a form of software used to easily access anything from a simple phone number to knowing how current a certain customer is with their payments to your company.
The software platforms vary from simple Excel documents to very complex Salesforce or HubSpot CRM integrations.
Here are some reasons to keep your CRM up-to-date and organized:
You’ll have the ability to quickly access the contact you are looking for. Your CRM can be your best buddy or your worst enemy. Being able to quickly access information on your contacts is a must.
You can easily segment the different types of contacts in your CRM for communication purposes. An email you want to send out talking about a new promotion probably is not something you want to send to a customer that bought from you last week. Your CRM can filter your contacts into lists as long as the data used for filtering is properly entered.
See which contacts are actively engaged with your company and which ones are cold that might need additional nurturing through refined marketing and attention. Some CRMs are equipped with the ability to log contact activity including website visits, emails opened, and links they’ve clicked on. This data can be useful when trying to decide where you should focus additional sales or marketing efforts.
Being able to see communications other members of your team had with a contact helps you better serve your customers and makes your company look polished and professional. Your customers interact with more than one person at your company. A CRM that all team members can access to log emails, phone calls, or any meeting information with a contact is invaluable. It allows everyone else to see what took place.
Some CRMs are priced based on the number of active contacts you have. It is pointless to pay for contacts that are old and don’t have potential to do business with you. Purging old contacts will ensure you are only paying for contacts you want to work with.
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why this is the top item on the list.
Getting your CRM in order is not that challenging. Let’s begin.
7 Easy Steps to Organize Your CRM
If you are not using a CRM or are still using an offline tool like Excel, make the jump over to an online-based CRM. There are a lot of great platforms available. HubSpot does offer a free version of their CRM that has a lot of utility to get you started.
To begin organizing your contacts, get all the contacts in a single workable format. You could definitely click into each contact record one-by-one and update the date, but it is much easier to do this outside of the CRM. Even though I just bashed Excel, we are going to use it in this step. You should be able to export all contacts and associated data into a CSV file that can be opened in Excel or Google Sheets. Having all this data in a single spreadsheet will speed up the process of reviewing your contacts.
Begin by isolating the contacts you want to remove from your database.
Next, move to categorizing your contacts by their current relationship to your business. Are they a past customer, current customer, opportunity, lead, target, vendor, or colleague?
Determine if there are any custom data points you want to add to your CRM to better segment these contacts. Tag all customer contacts with the items they purchased in the past or the date they last bought from you. Keep track of everyone’s birthdays or names of their kids. The more data points you can collect on a customer the better you can communicate and serve them.
Fill in missing information. Some contacts might only have an email address but no first or last name. Maybe you have two emails for the same person and those contact details need to be merged into one contact record.
The last step is to import your changes into the CRM. Be sure to follow the import instructions provided by your CRM to ensure accurate updates to your records.
Now that you have cleaned out old contacts and updated those you wish to keep, you have a neat and clean CRM that is ready work for you.
2: Revise Top Blog Content
When was the last time you reviewed your website analytics to see how much traffic your blog posts are generating?
Chances are, you have 5-10 blog posts that generate the bulk of organic traffic to your website.
Some of these might be blogs you wrote over a year ago which means they might need to be reviewed and revised.
Take a moment to review your top performing blog posts and ask yourself these questions.
How long ago was this content created?
Is the content in this blog post still relevant?
How could you enhance this blog post to make it more valuable to your audience?
Are there any content upgrades (ebooks, checklists, videos, etc.) you could insert into this post to provide more value and use for lead capture?
Do you have other blogs posts related to this topic that you could suggest for related reading?
Are there new keywords that can be added or edited to gain even more search engine exposure?
Don’t cringe too much as you go through this list. The contents of the blog were relevant and on point when you published it. Plus, you are cleaning this content up now which means it will be even more valuable to your website visitors.
Some blogs might require a complete overhaul while others only need small adjustments. Make whatever changes you can to these blog posts so they are best they can be. After all, the search engines and your website visitors have validated they are topics of interest.
Do You Revise the Existing Post or Publish a New One?
You might question if these should be republished as a new blog posts or simply revised.
Opt for revising the original post.
It is strongly recommended that you keep the URL exactly the same. Even if you choose to change the title of your blog post, don’t change the URL structure. The search engines have indexed this particular URL and changing it, even if you use a redirect, will only cause a disruption in traffic.
If the original publish date makes your post look really old and you don’t want visitors to see when you first wrote it, remove the displayed date from the post. There is no rule that says you have to display the publish date.
Whether you keep or remove the date, add a small disclaimer to the post (probably at the bottom) that notes the original date it was published and that it has since been revised.
This could look like the following:
Editor’s Note: This blog content was originally created in March of 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated to provide accuracy and comprehensiveness.
3: Communicate with Your Contact Database
You’ve probably received dozens of COVID-19 emails in the initial weeks of the pandemic.
While most of these are adaptations of the same email, it is an effort by businesses and organizations to communicate their efforts and the impact being made on their business to the contacts in their database.
At times of uncertainty, communication is important.
A lot of people might suggest times like these should not be leveraged for gain. That is completely understandable. No one should attempt to make money because of a catastrophic event but that does not mean you cannot make money during a catastrophic event. It is not insensitive to continue business operations.
There are things you do that might be helpful to people looking for answers. You are actually doing a disservice to your customers by not providing help. This help can come in many forms. It might be an educational post (like this one) to give people something productive to do when their minds are in non-productive places. It could be a video showing them how to perform a new trick or training on a product or service they use everyday.
Take a moment to think about what you could communicate that might help your customers or people just like them.
If you are worried about the public perception of your message, try it out on a small group of contacts you trust would not be offended and know you are not seeking financial gain because of the catastrophic event causing the pain. Add a note at the beginning of the email telling them they are receiving this message as part of a small test group and ask for their honest feedback. Tell them to be specific in their feedback and ask for suggestions for improvement. Once you feel you’ve made the proper adjustments, send the message to the remaining recipients.
4: Create New Lead Magnets
Lead magnets are fantastic tools for helping to educate your website visitors, build trust, and create a way to further engage with people not yet ready to buy from you.
Now is the time to sit down and build a couple of these marketing assets.
Lead magnets come in many forms. They can be ebooks, checklists, white papers, infographics, how-to videos, webinars, or simply a PDF version of a blog post.
Creating one is easier than you might think.
First, focus on the most common questions your customers ask you. These are also questions that a lot of other people have who are searching for solutions.
From there, determine what type of lead magnet you want to create.
Next, build an outline of the areas you want to cover and then write the copy.
The last step is converting your copy into the final version. This might be shooting a video or adding formatting and images to make an attractive ebook.
For more information on this, check out a podcast Justin and I recorded for the Neon Noise podcast.
Most marketing plans are adjusted for the beginning of the calendar year and revisited quarterly or monthly depending on the amount of moving parts.
Now is a great time to revisit your marketing plan and determine what changes need to be made.
Do you need to make changes to your marketing plan because of the impact recent events have had on customer behavior?
Are there different marketing activities you can add to your marketing plan for active marketing (now) or prepare marketing assets and campaigns for future use?
Is there a new marketing channel you’ve always wanted to explore but never had the capacity to take on?
Make adjustments to your marketing plan so you can be certain you are properly allocating your time and monetary resources.
6: Build Supporting Assets for Existing Content
Content needs to be supported by distribution.
How can you get more people to digest the helpful content you’ve produced and get them engaged in your brand?
Here are a couple of ways to get even more traffic to your best content.
Create Social Media Assets for Content Promotion
Your most popular blog posts and resources might be getting solid traffic from organic exposure on the search engines. Take that a step further by creating social media posts linking to this content.
Social media is visual now. Posts with engaging images and videos get more eyeballs than text-only ones do.
Create a bank of images and videos related to your most popular content for social posts. Make a handful of images for each of your top-performing pieces of content. Use text snippets or quotes from the posts and create images or graphics that can be used in social media posts. Use the camera on your phone to shoot a couple of short videos talking about the marketing asset.
These images and videos do not have to be created for single use. Be sure to create a version for all of the social platforms you have profiles for. Outline a rotation to reuse images and videos over and over again. If you have 10 pieces of content you are promoting and creating 5 supporting assets per piece of content for each platform you use, you’ll have 50 posts that you can schedule over an extended period of time.
By this point, you’ve likely identified some of your most popular blog posts, ebooks, infographics, and videos.
Your audience has validated this content by the amount of traffic it receives.
Take that popular ebook and create a short video covering the very same content. Publish it on YouTube and embed the video in your blog post.
Turn the videos with the most number of views into long-form blog posts that can be indexed by the search engines and found by even more people looking for answers to the problems they face.
Expand the reach of the content you know is being consumed.
7: Join the Conversation
There are countless forums and social groups out there in your niche having conversations that you should be participating in.
If you are not actively engaging in these conversations, you should seriously consider starting.
Joining these conversations have a variety of benefits.
See the most pressing issues people are facing and the questions they are asking.
Learn from others in your industry by seeing the advice they provide.
Position yourself as an industry thought leader by answering questions and giving guidance.
Form relationships with people you would never have met without joining the conversation.
Build trust and exposure for your brand by being active and willing to help.
These groups and forums are really easy to find. A single Google search will turn up plenty of options for you to explore. You can always do some social media stalking of your connection’s profiles to see which groups they are members of.
Most of these groups frown upon self-promotion and hard selling your services. These groups exist to help people. Be sure you read through the group rules to understand what is and isn’t allowed in that group or forum.
Getting to Work
What should you do next?
Pick the easiest item from this list and begin. Even the smallest of wins can generate enough momentum to carry you through to the next challenge that might be just a little bit more difficult. Soon, you will be crossing off all of these marketing activities from your list. Doing so now will put you in a really, really good position for when consumers take their eyes off the screen and start looking for answers to the problems you solve.
Comment below with which activity you are going to start with. It would awesome to get feedback on everyone’s progress.
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