3 ways to adapt your marketing strategy during uncertain market shifts
CEOs and business owners are operating without the benefit of knowing the future: Will the “new normal” ever revert to the “old normal”? Will the economic unrest flatten and bounce back? Will the cascading effect of the pandemic right itself, and when?
No one can foretell the future. Today, business leaders are guiding their respective companies through the uncertainty.
The good news is that many companies are finding innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive, in the current business landscape. And these positive changes seem to be here to stay: In a recent survey of marketers, 96% reported that their organization’s marketing and service innovations will continue after the crisis subsides.
Companies that can effectively strategize, innovate, pivot and execute can more easily position their businesses for success in an ever-changing outlook. Here are three areas of your marketing strategy you can adapt to make the most of turbulent times.
Strategy 1. Shift or expand your offering to work with the market
New or different products, services and offerings may be more appealing in the current landscape.
While you may think of marketing as strictly dependent on the product and service offering, the two are interlaced: the market, buyers and messaging inform and shape the offering, especially in times of change. While online-only experiences have quickly become the norm, savvy business leaders are further reworking, refining or reimagining their product and services offers to fully embrace the realities of the market shifts.
Many companies have had success by pivoting or extending to a new offering altogether — this isn’t to say they started from scratch, but were able to use the foundations of their existing offerings to build something new and valuable to address new customers or current customers facing new challenges.
For example, a newly launched startup with an AI-powered crowd control solution launched just prior to the pandemic.
The absence of large in-person events might have been devastating for the company’s growth, but instead, they were able to quickly pivot the product and positioning to assist with reopening plans for universities, sporting events, and more.
Whether it’s a new use for your core capabilities, a changed or added feature that helps support your customer, or a new offering altogether, a company that can meet a need now with an eye towards the future has a unique opportunity to position themselves at the core of the new normal.
Keep in mind this direction needs to be carefully thought out — what’s the level of investment to develop something new to address a market need that may not be the same a few years into the future?
Questions to feed strategy 1
- What problems does my target audience (or a new audience) have that my company can solve?
- What technologies, processes, products or skills does my company have that could be repurposed to meet a need?
- What is the level of effort, investment and timing to affect this shift?
Strategy 2. Reposition your messaging
Changes in messaging can help companies resonate better with their new or existing target audience.
While many companies ran crisis-focused campaigns at the start of the pandemic, successful companies are refining or changing their overall messaging strategy more permanently.
In fact, 45% of marketers surveyed report that they have changed their overall messaging to be more customer-centric. This value-based messaging is always best practice, but it’s proving to be even more critical right now in the complex, uncertain market.
Companies that previously could get away with straightforward “features and functions” sales and marketing messaging now have little choice but to focus on the business value of their product: How does your offering fill a void that your target audience has right now?
Going through a messaging exercise helps you nail down who your target audience is, what they want and need to hear, and how your company talks about itself to meet that need. This is especially critical if your company has already implemented Strategy 1 — most changes or additions to your offering or your target audience will require a shift in messaging.
Questions to feed strategy 2
- Have I clearly articulated what void my current and prospective customers are facing and how my solutions meet that need?
- What do my current and prospective customers want to hear from me right now?
- How can I talk about my company in a way that resonates and helps to solve real business issues, given the current climate?
Strategy 3. Review and select your key marketing channels
New or changed tactics can help build traction in times of uncertainty.
Marketing channels, tactics and best practices change frequently even in the most stable of situations, so it comes as no surprise that many companies are trying — and benefitting from — new techniques. What has worked before may not be as effective now, especially if you’re pursuing a new target audience.
A great example of this is the shift to digital lead generation for those that previously relied heavily on events and in-person selling. Webinars on many topics are flourishing — one platform recently reported a 330% increase in number of webinars and double the average number of attendees over 2019 numbers.
This year we’ve seen in-person national events either cancelled or held virtually, and it’s possible that events will continue to be virtual in the near future. You don’t always have to make a hard sales pitch to attract leads — people are looking for connection right now, and business leaders can meet that need with thought leadership, and participatory events like LinkedIn Live, virtual town hall forums, and Twitter Chats.
Since most people are spending more time on social media and online than they did previously, creating engaging, evergreen content and advertising on social media can help you reach your audience quickly and maintain an ongoing following.
Frequent-flyer executives are now firmly planted at their desks, so now might be a great time to send a targeted email campaign to customers or prospects, or give them a call to connect — then stay in front of them regularly as their world returns to normal.
Having your marketing team refocus digital efforts in some of these ways can help you to capitalize on your customer’s changed behavior. Frame a strategy that works now and sets you up to successfully attract new prospects and keep current customers onboard.
Questions to feed strategy 3
- Where is my new or existing target audience getting their information right now?
- What information can I provide that my audience will find useful?
- Are there new approaches I haven’t tried yet?
While no one knows for sure what the business landscape will look like in the future, the importance of strategy is one thing that isn’t going away. With a focus on innovation and a little creativity, businesses can create a real opportunity for themselves in the new normal.