1. COVID has Changed Your Customers’ Needs – Know Them
You may think you know well the segment where you gain your greatest revenue. Particularly if they are large companies and you are supplying a valuable service/product. They usually communicate their needs and expect compliance. But during the many phases of COVID, they (and you) had to make many decisions quickly – with a vague view of the future.
If you had just completed in-depth research of your customers’ views and needs prior to COVID, you are very lucky — you have a baseline. During COVID, though, needs may have changed. With vaccines, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Target segments and work forces will be adjusting again. So, keep asking – you will learn a lot. For 2021, many of our customers want to learn about segments that are not familiar to them. Makes sense as the winds of COVID keep changing everyone’s business models.
2. COVID Changed How Your Customers Want to Learn – Digital Has Become More Essential
Many aspects of Digital provide opportunity but needs to be implemented as part of an overall marketing plan, since there are many options! COVID hastened changes that were already underway.
Cold calling in-person has become nearly non-existent. This will never come back like it was and selling is getting tougher due to:
- Caller ID – The ability to screen (and avoid) calls.
- Office vs. Work from Home (WFH) – the office number may not work, as many people are working from home and are using their mobile phones instead. Some may go back to offices; some may not – it will be difficult to know where they are.
- Virtual Trade Shows — In-person new product demos and networking are not possible today and many will stay virtual even post-COVID. Businesses have learned how to be effective without travel.
- Overloaded Email Inboxes — Need I say more?
- Zoom (and other types of virtual meetings) - can be challenging, tiresome and even painful.
- Marketing Communication — Social media, emails, blogs, articles and webinars, etc. are more important – not to sell, but to deliver information your customers and prospects will find useful. Keep them coming back – embedding (and enhancing) your name recognition and brand.
- Content and Distribution – Both are essential. Use your content in many distribution vehicles –social media, emails, blogs, articles, webinars, etc. Pay attention to your DRIP campaign analytics to understand what content is most useful to your targets.
- Virtual Meetings – Change it up. Have a virtual wine tasting; deliver a speaker that is happy to do a one hour zoom and does not have to travel; pull in international experts. Be creative.
- LinkedIn – is important for most B2B businesses. Use your “Best Customer” profile to find more “Best Customers”. Add them to your DRIP campaign, targeted ads, etc. and go after them directly using Account Based Marketing.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – is even more important. Your prospects need to find you via Google. Study your website analytics – on what page do you have the most traffic acquisition? Where do they come from? How many are new? What are your most popular pages? Who is looking? Have an SEO specialist monitor your website to keep up with Google’s ever-changing rules and apply them to your site to keep contacts and leads coming.
3. Your Customers are not a Monolithic Group - Targeting is Even More Important
Some of your customers were COVID winners and some losers. At first your customers were just reacting to changing segment demand. Now they know how their segments are likely to react in the future and can better plan for the changed needs – and how you might help fill them.
One of our clients, an oil tank supplier, saw demand among its segments change dramatically, the:
- Gas station segment slowed – not surprising…the Dept of Transportation reported that travel on all roads and streets dropped nearly 40% in April 2020 compared to April 2019.
- Emergency responder segment grew – emergency responders to hurricanes (and consumers in the devastated areas) need gasoline to function.
- Oil storage grew – due to lower oil prices, suppliers of oil would rather store than sell at very low prices.
4. There are Opportunities – Look for Signs and Act Quickly
Our client, the oil tank manufacturer, also recognized a new segment – hobby farmers or “Agri-Lifers.” Those who have fled the city, can work anywhere, and want to farm as a hobby. Tractor Supply (who does not sell Tractors, by the way) is a company that targets this demographic. Our client recently sold three steel oil tanks in a week over Amazon.
Marriott advertises renting rooms for a day and has developed a marketing program around it. This program is targeted to WFH workers, possibly with kids, who need peace, quiet and a great work environment – including food brought to your room.
The end users of your product/service have been, and will be, affected differently by these changing demands of COVID – so each has reacted differently. You need to understand their needs at a target segment or even an account level and be able to adjust – quickly.
With many, many years of experience, Mayfield Consulting provides market research, as well as innovative sales, marketing and PR strategy and implementation performed by seasoned professionals on an affordable, a la carte menu to business-to-business companies. With a tagline of “Where Results Happen,” Mayfield Consulting clients have been named 7 times to the Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies in the last 7 years, won more than 45 awards, and experienced exponential growth.