Okay. Let’s get all the obvious stuff out of the way first. Yeah, these are “unprecedented times”, aren’t they? Yes, we’re all thinking about what the “new normal” is. And hey yes, hasn’t the crisis changed our choice of B2B marketing messages and channels? There. Glad that’s out of the way.
Of course we’re re-focusing more on brand than sales and of course we’re not doing events and DM any more. What’s less commonly referenced is how this covid-19 crisis is impacting the way we do our marketing: the inputs rather than the outputs and outcomes. Because now we’re all marketing from home. And “Lockdown Marketing” requires a great deal more discipline.
Let’s take as an example one simple but really important part of marketing – strategy. Marketing strategy done properly is tough. Everyone’s got a different approach to this. For me, it’s about chatting with lots of relevant people and then stepping away. The chats allow me to pick up the needs, wants, and issues that need to be handled in our marketing plans – maybe a piece of customer insight that’s not been committed to the CRM system, maybe a challenge in the presentation of a product that needs a fix, maybe the tone in some customer feedback. Subsequently stepping away allows me to think through those issues, identify the most important, and then devise how to respond. Then I commit my strategy to writing. And then I can come back to the room!
But now in “Lockdown Marketing”, all those chats are digital. And digital is always on. It also comes along with a whole panoply of other distractions. Other work e-mails requiring urgent responses – e-mail seems to have massively increased now we’re all confined to home. Other social media conversations calling me out – again these have spiraled upwards in number since the crisis. And don’t get me started on the requests for endless zoom meetings, which because they are easier to schedule seem to be more prevalent than the face-to-face meetings of old. So the strategy chats are less focused and less real-time. And once you’re committed to digital, it’s difficult to step away from all of the conversations to order those thoughts.
And of course “Lockdown Marketing” strategy is done at home. Now I’m lucky enough to have a room I can go to away from everyone else where I work. My usual commute to work does not have the distraction of the growing list of DIY chores I’ve yet to complete and the requests for attention from others I’m sharing lockdown with. Now I have to ignore all of that. Those FDs who are planning to cut their business’s office property costs line after all this is over might want to re-think.
And of course the trip to work is defined by train timetables which define when I need to arrive and leave the office and so structure the focus for the day into a defined and finite time. Without those, the work-day just seems to expand into the space available.
It’s not for nothing that in a recent poll conducted by the Business Marketing Club into the biggest challenge for B2B marketers operating virtually and remotely during the lockdown, the majority of our audience plumbed for “balancing work and home life”.
So here’s a bit of advice for you from someone who is struggling to apply it himself: your computer’s got an off button. Set a time for yourself every week-day when you use it. And diarise some time during the work day itself when you switch off and think.
Because these are the days when we all have to be more disciplined. And a more disciplined marketer is a better marketer.
By Dave Stevens.
Dave Stevens is a B2B marketing consultant and can be contacted at DaveStevensNow@gmail.com. He is Chair and Co-Founder of the Business Marketing Club, a not-for-profit community network of B2B marketing professionals and people interested in B2B marketing. Find out more at www.businessmarketingclub.org.uk.