Mission-Critical Marketing
Tom Stimson
May 22, 2020

Change is necessary for the survival of your business — especially in this pandemic. 

As you’ve searched for ways to meet new needs during this time of upheaval, you’ve shifted your marketing to promote new streaming capabilities, studio space, and other creative services to offer clients. While some of you have seen some success, others only hear crickets. 

Why aren’t more customers responding? 

You need better marketing. 

The bigger your pivot in services, the bigger your marketing play needs to be. If you’re moving from producing live events and hosting live meetings to offering full virtual services, that’s a big pivot — a pivot too big to cover simply by changing the header on your website and sending an email. 

Marketing is your bridge from truck and dock to virtual production.

For your business to survive, many of you are making huge changes — with marketing, those changes will pay off.

Why Marketing Matters

A strong marketing presence works to build both your credibility and your pipeline. With an effective marketing strategy, you’ll better identify, reach, and attract your customers. Here’s how:

Marketing Builds Credibility

Skill won’t win jobs if you don’t have credibility. To establish it, we have to talk to our audience — even when they don’t need to buy anything. This isn’t about putting your sales team to work. Salespeople want to talk to clients about their next show, project, or gig. Now isn’t the right time for these conversations. 

Instead, it’s time to establish your credibility with an expertise your client didn’t know you had two months ago. To make that move, you need a way to bridge the gap between what you did pre-quarantine to what you offer now. The better marketing machine you have, the easier it is to establish the credibility you need to make the transition possible.

Marketing Builds a Pipeline 

Marketing also builds your sales pipeline. A sales pipeline (or funnel) is about potential work — not confirmed work. If your entire marketing world is focused on the people who have asked you for a quote, you’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Eighty percent of your pipeline should be for unconfirmed, nonexistent work.

Sales and marketing funnel

A strong marketing funnel is filled with prospects and leads who fall at all levels of the buying process. 

Don’t have any booked projects to discuss with clients right now? That’s okay. 

The funnel gives you a glance of all the conversations you could be having. This is your opportunity to engage with potential customers. Find ways to educate, offer resources, and help them rethink how their next event may look… for free. That’s marketing!  

Marketing Isn’t Optional

Marketing is always vital, but its importance has skyrocketed because we can no longer rely on past reputation. The problems your customers are facing now are different from what they’ve experienced in the past. You need to craft a strong message that speaks to what your customers currently need and how you can help.

We craft that message, or brand, through marketing. 

Marketing primes customer expectations. It affects what people think before they know you and reinforces it afterward. Marketing isn’t expensive lying — it’s a genuine expression of what customers can and should expect when you work together. 

How Do We Market? 

If you’ve failed to market effectively in the past, marketing can seem like a daunting challenge. But an effective marketing strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Strong marketing focuses on identifying potential customers, meeting them where they are, and walking them through easy next steps. Here are the basics: 

1. Identify the Target Customer 

Know your target customer before you attempt to market. Don’t identify a customer based on what they buy, but instead on where they are in their thinking cycle. 

Customers fall into one of four categories: 

  • Unaware of the issues
  • Aware but not sure what to do next
  • Curious and considering options
  • Engaged and ready to move

Once you identify where they are, you can figure out how to meet their current needs.

2. Meet Customers Where They Are

We can meet customers wherever they are — even if they’re not ready to buy. With incremental engagement, we meet their needs in their current state and walk them further down the funnel. It looks like this: 

  1. Unaware
    1. Educate
    2. Interpret
  2. Aware
    1. Present common problems
    2. Provide complete answers
  3. Curious
    1. Explore the hidden issue
    2. Next step to understanding
  4. Engaged
    1. Show you have solutions
    2. Let’s get started

3. Make Their Next Step Easy

What do you want the customer to do after your interaction? Based on their stage, identify a specific purpose for each interaction. 

Make the next step easy and appropriate for them. Don’t push them too far too fast. Instead, lead them naturally into a deeper relationship with you that builds trust. 

Here’s how it looks for each level of customer:

Easy steps

Market with Digital Energy

How do we make these connections with customers during a pandemic? Digitally. Customers are primed for digital engagement. Here are a few strategies to get you started: 

  • Update your website: Make your pivot strategy look normal.
  • Send drip emails: Let everyone know what’s going on. Newsletters are great — right now more people are opening and reading them than ever before. Establish a record of consistently providing useful information that establishes your credibility. 
  • Social Media: Use this to reinforce your message and engage your fans. 
  • Personal emails: Personal invitations encourage curious prospects to sign up. This may be your chance to prompt them to engage in ways they haven’t before. 
  • Phone messages: People are actually answering their phones right now. Use this as another avenue for invitations. 
  • Video Calls: Whenever you can, use the video platform to connect. AV people not using video calls undermines your credibility. Figure out how to work it into your system. 

While changes to your marketing mindset may not be easy, they are necessary for the survival of your business. 

W. Edwards Deming, the pioneer who led Japan out of their post-war manufacturing model to more high quality and high-profit products, once said, “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not necessary”. You can wait until everything comes back, but survival may not be an option then. However, if you grow, adapt, and work towards change, you’re much more likely to survive. 

For more on how to market in each stage and where to start, check out the full Week 10 (May 20) webinar replay of our weekly series: The Show Will Go On — Business Survival Series.

Sign up now and you’ll be registered for the entire series. You’ll also gain access to all replays of the previous webinars.

About Tom Stimson
Tom Stimson MBA, CTS is an authority on business and strategy for small- to medium-sized companies. He is an expert on project-based selling and a thought leader for innovative business processes.
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