Coping with COVID-19

In recent weeks a number of large-scale, high profile Tech events have been cancelled or postponed. This has sent a shockwave through the industry and left many Marketers with a hole in their plans for the first half of the year. The situation is compounded by many Tech firms deciding to implement travel bans. So, how can we respond?

The obvious answer is to switch to digital channels. However, there is an inherent problem with this approach when it comes to senior decision makers. 64% of all B2B deals are signed off at a C-Suite level, so it’s important to engage this audience to drive deal success. But they don’t hang out on digital channels. Indeed, a study by ITSM late last year concluded that their favourite engagement channel is (you guessed it) events.

So, if the C-Suite is important to your plans, you need to think carefully about the nature of your digital marketing over the next 3-6 months. How do you continue to drive high value relationships and pipeline? How do you continue to support your ABM plans during this period of disruption? How do you connect your Marketing spend with Revenue in the face of uncertainty?

Whilst by now means a complete list, here’s three proven ideas to help you navigate Covid-19 and engage the C-Suite…

No. 1: Go Virtual

This is the most obvious response, but the devil’s in the detail so let’s address the elephant in the room first, i.e. I just said senior executives “don’t hang out on digital channels”. In general, this rule includes webinars, but often the lack of attendance is a reflection of the type of virtual meeting you’re using. If it’s a webinar with a lot of people involved, then no, they won’t attend. But if it’s a highly curated, small group session with known contributors and attendees, then you will see much better results. To maximise results and engagement, interview guests beforehand, curate the content around their interests, source opinion via voting and follow up post-event for feedback and appointments.

No. 2: Go Personal

Let’s be candid. Events are simply a means to an end. Often, we get too focused on the event itself – the food, speaker, venue – when in fact, the event is just a point in time, a mechanism for building relationships and pipeline with your target audience. When you think of events in that way, it raises the question of “what other mechanisms can be used to achieve this outcome”. At Seraph Science we’ve replaced the event with an industry report. It gives us a “reason to engage” and explore their interests. By securing time with your target audience to gain their input into the report, you can also ask the right questions and build relationships, credibility and pipeline. These engagements are far more personal than events, being 1-to-1 and therefore, a highly effective alternative.

No. 3: Go Local 

Okay, so this one’s swimming against the tide, but not all events are being hit as badly by Coronavirus as the big events. In fact, local events are benefiting by big events being cancelled. And non-essential travel restrictions mean your target audience is around more, not less. So, as the dust begins to settle, think local and you will still see good results. And of course, consider size. The smaller your event, the more effective it will be. Dinner sessions with up to 20 attendees are still comparatively well-attended and a welcome opportunity to learn and engage whether you’re a plucky Brit, educated European or ambitious American.

In summary, whilst this is a very dynamic and disruptive time, the principles of C-Suite engagement remain the same – perhaps without the handshake for a while.

For Marketing: resist the urge to put everything on black (aka, digital). Yes, it’s the obvious answer, but digital’s shortcomings have not disappeared overnight. Consider what an integrated, connected and authentic approach will look like. Replace in-person activities with virtual / digital activities or switch to a report to keep your programs active. This is the quickly, simplest way to avoid a dip in pipeline.

For Sales: it’s time to dig deep and go the extra mile. With events off the menu you need to work with your Marketing team to find alternative mechanisms to drive opportunities. Be adaptive, creative and ready to change your approach. What does a prospect meeting look like if it’s delivered virtually? How do you change your preparation to maximise rapport building and engagement when you’ve lost the ability to look them in the eye?

For Executives: maybe this is the time to try something different. That webinar you registered for and failed to attend (again) might actually be an interesting forum for idea discovery. Ask the organiser who’s attending, how many are attending and will you be able to speak / contribute.

I hope this article has stimulated some thoughts and ideas. I welcome your comments. And if you’d like to know more about one of our related solutions, virtual roundtables, click here to learn more.

 

The Definitive Guide to C-Suite Marketing

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