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Focusing on the right audiences during COVID-19

June 26, 2020
Jon Bauer

While 2020 started out strong for many companies, COVID-19 put a quick end to this growth and left us all in a state of unease. But after months of quarantine and continued uncertainty about how long the recovery will take, businesses need to take action to ensure continued revenue, regardless of how long it takes for sales to return to “normal.”

As we talk with companies in different industries, we’re seeing a number of recurring themes: 

  • Fear and uncertainty has swept through the marketplace
  • Sales and pipelines are nowhere near where they need to be 
  • Government PPP is running out and is not enough to sustain
  • Businesses are forced to make difficult decisions

There’s a sense of anxiety and urgency as businesses try to decide what actions to take. Fortunately, there are immediate initiatives to employ that can be successful with audiences amid the COVID economy. Risdall has compiled these efforts into what we’re calling 3×3 for 2020. For this first blog post, we’ll be focusing on the three audiences you can engage for the greatest ROI.

CORE CUSTOMERS

Your current, loyal customers are a group that is often overlooked, but cannot be taken for granted during challenging times. 

We’ve all heard the adage that it’s more expensive to bring on a new customer than to keep an existing one, and this point is extremely important in our current marketplace. Don’t forget, your customers are also facing financial pressure and your partnership is one of the areas where they may be looking to save money. 

In your efforts with current customers, we recommend focusing on protecting and strengthening your relationship. There are four key ways you can demonstrate this:

  • Showing empathy
  • Reinforcing your value
  • Educating your customers
  • Cross-selling

Showing empathy is an easy way to connect with current customers. Something as simple as a personal note from your president acknowledging the situation and letting them know they’re not alone can be very impactful. An empathetic call from a sales rep that isn’t just focused on closing a sale can strengthen your relationship. But more than anything, listen to what they’re saying and look for ways you can make their lives easier. 

Don’t be afraid to reinforce what makes you valuable to your customers. Recap existing relationships by updating and sharing case studies, developing a newsletter, or developing a regular email and phone cadence to remain top of mind. You cannot simply assume your customers remember what you’ve done for them and why you’re bringing value. (Keep in mind, the people who control budgets at organizations often have no idea what vendors are bringing to the table.) 

Customers are looking to you as the expert and educator on your area of service, and oftentimes their industry. Keep your client roster informed about changes in the marketplace, ways your services can help with their needs, and ideas and opportunities for growth that they may not have considered. This information can’t just talk about yourself and your services. Focus on content that helps your customers solve their problems. 

If customers come to you for certain products and services but not others, now is the time to promote those other offerings. Consider bundling them into packages that prove more cost efficient than working with multiple vendors. Promoting yourself as an easy, single source can help deepen the relationship, save them money and provide you with additional revenue. Obviously you’re not going to be able to sell everything to everyone, but make sure your customers know about your complete breadth of services. 

KEY PROSPECTS

If you are like most of our clients, you have a short list of key prospects you would love to convert to customers. These prospects might be familiar with you, may have had some contact with you in the past, and could have even considered you at one point. Now is the time to focus energy on reaching out to this group. Like all businesses, they are looking for ways to reduce costs. 

Engaging them with a value proposition is a great way to get their attention while generating discussion with your sales team. Depending on your business, this might be a percentage reduction during a specific time period, a volume discount, or support services included at no charge. Make sure your incentives are carefully thought through and that you work with your sales team to identify something truly valuable to these prospects.

Another item that is essential to this group is what we call social proof. This is basically well-told stories of customer satisfaction. An incentive will get your foot in the door, but in order to close, you will need these proof points that cover the various boxes your prospects will need checked. This might be the product itself, your customer service, or how it compares to other products in the consideration set. If you don’t have good social proof, now is the time to develop really good case studies that are thorough and cover the different criteria that this audience will need in order to consider a change. 

IDEAL CUSTOMERS

Like key prospects, the ideal customer audience needs to be clearly defined by behavior and need, but you may not have them on your target list yet. Just like your customers and key prospects, they’ll be evaluating their business and will be open to learning more about how your product or service can impact it. 

You’ll need to reach this group with targeted engagement rather than broad awareness-building efforts. It’s essential to deliver impactful, relevant information along with triggers designed to initiate a request or contact with your sales team. As with your key prospects, you’ll want to work with your sales team to develop incentives that generate interest and result in conversations. 

SALES WILL FOLLOW

While we are dealing with a challenging economy, it’s important to remember that there are still customers out there who need what you have. The COVID-19 pandemic has created opportunities for businesses to refocus efforts, but this requires creativity and flexibility with your marketing efforts. Discussing your current situation with a partner like Risdall, who will help you review your current marketing strategies and engagements, can ensure your efforts get measurable results and sales.

We cover the complete 3×3 for 2020 marketing strategy in our Marketing Priorities in the COVID Economy webinar, available on-demand here.

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