What is the right balance between sharing my content to stay top of mind versus selling and promoting my services, during a business crisis? I don’t want to appear insensitive, but I still need to earn revenue.
The simple answer to that question is: it depends.
The topic of content marketing versus selling during a business crisis has presented itself so many times in my business coaching sessions and conversations with business owners recently that I’m inspired to share my perspective on the subject.
The more complicated answer to that question is: know your audience intimately, and act accordingly.
Easier said than done.
Your strategy and approach to sales and marketing should be directly related to the needs of your audience. And the business owners who intimately understand their customer’s mindset, buying triggers, and emotional state at any given time are the ones who will thrive not just now during this pandemic, but ALL the time.
Business owners who have been painting broad strokes with their marketing brush to ‘target everyone’ with general messages that don’t specifically speak to any one group of people’s expressed needs, are the ones who will suffer the most, now and later.
General (marketing) messaging doesn’t land.
It can sometimes feel like you are ‘doing all the things’ but nothing is really working. You’re not getting traction because your message is too general or your market is too broad or probably both — because one begets the other.
If you focus on a niche, or a slice of the market – a market segment, vertical, industry, etc. it’s easier for you to understand your buyer, and for you to craft messages in their language so they hear you and see you. This also has the added benefit of enabling your market to quickly and easily self-identify that working with you, or buying from you is the best option for them. How do they know that? Because you are speaking their language, which engenders trust and credibility, and a feeling of “Wow, she gets me!”
Make sure you focus on your qualified buyer versus a target market.
This is a massively important point, because if you’re chasing target markets you’ll be broke.
The main difference between the two is that qualified buyers have an expressed need with a motivation and a budget to seek out solutions to a business or personal pain point they are feeling, (i.e.) outsourced sales-for-hire specializing in select service hotels who don’t have an in-house sales team. Target markets are a demographic and psychographic profile of a broad group of people, (i.e.) sales help for small businesses.
Don’t add to the noise.
There is a LOT of noise on social media these days and a ton of borderline spam emails flooding everybody’s inbox, most of which can be categorized as: (i) COVID support and resources, from companies who are all evidently using the same templated script, (ii) Fire sales, from people whose list you didn’t even know you were on, and (iii) Blind sales pitches from perfect strangers who give themselves permission to pitch-slap you in their first email.
Be conscious with your communication, or your brand will suffer.
Don’t make me (your potential customer) do the heavy lifting. Don’t force me to spend hours each day sorting and deleting emails that are irrelevant to me, that I don’t care about, and that show me you have no idea who I am. If you do this, it pretty much guarantees that I won’t become your customer.
There are two audience mindsets right now, that each require a different tactical approach.
People who Wait and See. Consumers who aren’t prepared to move forward with making discretionary purchases and big investments at this time. They are in ‘wait and see’ mode. They are perhaps more conservative, skeptical or fearful about what the future holds and prefer to ride things out because it feels safer to do so.
Best Marketing Strategy: Stay top of mind. Share content that adds value to your specific market’s needs. Show up in service with tips, insights, inspiration, entertainment, and messages of support.
People who are Willing to Invest. Customers who are ready and willing to invest now, to secure future outcomes. There are people who are still prepared to pay for value offered. Talk to your market to determine what their current struggle or pain point is now, given the current market conditions, industry influences, or economic situation. Consumers always have pain points and problems that need solutions. If they didn’t, then consumerism wouldn’t be a thing.
Best Sales Strategy: Direct outreach. Pick up the phone and call your prospects. Email your list. Make offers through your social media channels. Offer presentations, talks, or webinars.
Marketing and sales are almost never a one-size fits all approach.
By having intimate knowledge of your qualified buyer’s needs and mindset at this time, you can determine whether they are willing to invest or if they are content with waiting and seeing.
Your customers and prospective clients will tell you what they need from you. Get curious, ask questions, and listen; and allow yourself to be guided by what the market wants.
And if they don’t want what you offer, then create something they do want – or find a different buyer.
If you struggle with marketing and sales for your business, reach out to an expert for help. You’ll want to start with getting a business diagnostic to determine the root cause of the biggest pain point that you’re feeling in your business right now, and then some key strategic actions you can take that will remedy the root cause and relieve the symptoms you’re experiencing. This is one of my specialties. If you want to get clarity and a focused plan to get traction in your business, reach out to me.