With offline marketing all but shut down, companies will have to turn to digital to survive (and potentially emerge stronger)
Many organisations, especially B2B, typically spend a substantial part of their marketing budgets on corporate events: trade shows, conferences and face to face networking. Word of mouth referrals and customer relationship building happens where people get together at formal events or over lunch or on the golf course. Right now people are physically distancing themselves and the all-important personal connections are being lost.
The unprecedented shutting down of these channels could be the undoing of businesses or the making of them. By forcing them to review and develop their digital strategies, they will be able to mitigate the loss of the channels and build contingencies to help them deal with future pandemics. The key to resilience is adaptability. Strengthening their digital offerings may also drive marketing in a new direction and possibly lead to a longer-term change in the way we do find and do business.
Those marketers previously focused on events and doing business on the road are going to have to develop digital strategies and look at how to find and connect with prospects online. Industries that are set up to meet prospects before doing business are going to have to review these long-established processes and look at how new channels can be opened using web technology and social platforms to make introductions and foster relationships.
Businesses that previously did little online will have to consider the move into search engine marketing, social marketing and content marketing – A wake up call and for some and a rapid education in digital marketing.
A starting point for a digital review could be as simple as refreshing the website and social media pages, or updating mailer templates and getting new content out fast. Webinar microsites or bringing sales online through ecommerce might have been long overdue, but now could be a critical exercise.
Once this is all over, it will probably be business as usual as far as events and human interactions are concerned, but business will see that digital channels could serve as more than an emergency fill-in, and could provide long-term value when the world eventually does get back to normal.