I apologize that this may not be your typical blog. I’m not writing to solve a burning issue for our customers and prospects. If you’re looking for answers, this may not be the place. I’m trying to put words to the experience that many of us in marketing are living right now.
Living Our Best Life (Over Zoom)
It starts like this. The other night I met with a few other marketing professionals to vent, talk about the issues, and discuss all things marketing. It was a regular group that once met monthly, but had since fallen horribly off schedule.
… And by “met,” I mean I wore a nice shirt and pajama pants. I hopped on a Zoom call at the kitchen table while the kids and my wife cleaned up the dinner dishes.
Over Zoom, and through the tiny digital camera, and a window in a window on my laptop, we met. We ordered food and I smiled at the waiter while my friend asked for advice on building a report in Google Analytics.
Just to note, by “waiter” I mean my wife brought popcorn while I slipped away off camera to make tea. And by report, it was a spreadsheet the friend was trying to build for a sales rep who realized, for the first time in his career, that his commission might be dependent on website traffic. This realization led to an epidemic of disinformation that was sweeping through their sales team.
Suddenly, between another friend yelling at her barking dog and the leader of the group who “vanished” to reboot his computer, one of our group had insight into the spreadsheet solution. Problem is, he forgot to unmute his mic and none of us heard him.
It was supposed to be a meeting of the minds. I was looking to recharge my marketing batteries. But, that's not how it went.
“Meeting of the minds,” may not be the right descriptor. Maybe, “none of this felt right and how did we get here?” better describes what all of us felt.
It was then we had an epiphany.
Riding the COVID Wave of Change
Today, the coffee shop where I do my best copywriting has closed windows and plastic over the door. Buying a drink is like ordering on the black market. It requires slipping cash through a hole in the plastic. Your drink is passed out the kitchen in a sealed container. No mask, no coffee. No coughing in the lobby, even if you are allergic to the air freshener.
This week, I’m scheduling meetings between my daughter’s reading group. That way I don’t have to talk over a storybook about a lonely turtle.
If I want to get out of the office for lunch, I walk down the street with my dog. Just me and my dog. I think even the dog is lonely.
Let’s be honest, none of us realized that this would be our work life in 2020. When the pandemic first hit and our offices started shutting down, we all thought it would be a few weeks. Maybe a month.
Raise your hand if you thought you’d be back in the office fast enough that you didn’t clean out the refrigerator.
As my meeting with the other marketing professionals went on, it became a contest to see who could out shock the others with their work conditions. Kids and spouses. Working in slippers and bathrobes. Poor internet. Endless Zoom meetings. Doing a load of laundry between projects.
Everything is changing in the business world, and I realized that many of us in marketing feel like we’re riding a wave with no idea where it will leave us.
A Road Map to the Future
So, what is life like as a marketing professional in the middle of a pandemic?
We all know that digital marketing is critical right now. For many businesses, online and the web is the only way to find and reach new customers and prospects. So, why does it feel so difficult to get anything done?
The Rise of Digital
According to a report by Deloitte, digital sales in Q1 grew an astounding 18% and online traffic grew 13% as COVID began to shut down travel and in-person meetings.
Another report on changing attitudes of B2B (business-to-business) companies explained that today 46% of the business leaders surveyed believed the digital sales model is more effective than the traditional model in closing sales. In the same report, 76% of those surveyed believed that remote selling was more effective at signing new customers since the beginning of the pandemic.
More and more business leaders are accepting that the world, and their business, is changing. If you want to reach customers and prospects, you need to go online. You need a digital strategy.
Even the recent conversations with the customers I work with reveal this shift. “What’s my SEO?” one business owner asked me on a call. Before COVID, this business owner sent postcards to his customers and kept his website as an afterthought. Another customer wanted to talk Google, and another is thinking about email campaigns.
Making Digital Work
The problem is, many of us working in digital marketing are struggling to make it work in difficult situations.
In a recent report, 68% of the digital agencies surveyed are seeing lower revenue. In the same report, digital agencies were seeing fewer leads and less business. As the experts recommend companies invest in digital marketing, the companies that know how to make a digital campaign work are seeing less business.
As digital marketers, we are being asked to do more with less. We’re trying to reach customers, find leads and support growth. At the same time, we’re working from the kitchen table and juggling the demands of home schooling. Even those of us who rely on technology aren’t immune to the demands of Zoom and COVID restrictions.
Do more with a lower budget is the new mantra. Oh, and by the way, you need to clean the house and deal with that barking dog and bored kid. Good luck!
Taking Charge of Sales and Marketing
So there was a lot of venting and complaining at our marketing meeting. We all had pent-up frustration. Here’s my insight after listening to the “new normal” experiences.
Companies need to stop waiting for things to get “better” and start addressing immediate needs. Now more than ever, companies need to see digital marketing as the best tool for reaching and converting prospects. Digital marketing isn’t just about lead generation, but closing sales.
As a business leader, you need to recognize that the needs and problems of your customers and prospects haven’t changed. What has changed are the channels they are using to solve those problems. What has changed is how we connect with solution providers. If you want to be a potential solution, then you need to have a digital presence.
Next Steps in Marketing During COVID
As a marketing professional, we also need to recognize that these are difficult times. The job ahead of us has never been bigger, and the headwinds against us have never been stronger. The companies we work with need us at our best, but sometimes, that may not be possible.
Start with your strategy. Lay out your goals, and then create a plan to reach them. Identify the support you need and any gaps you may have. Get buy-in from your sales team. They should know by now how the world of sales and marketing has changed, and they are probably ready to discuss solutions. If they don’t realize the need for change, then you have bigger problems than we can handle here.
Look at pulling in support when you need to, either from an agency, outsourced marketing, or a freelance expert. Mark out the steps, or phases, you need to reach in your strategy. Work on a phase at a time. Build toward your goals.
Take it one step at a time, and we can all get through this. If you have questions or need help, then contact GO2 Partners today.
Now, get ready for your next Zoom meeting and don’t forget to let the dog out!