As can be expected companies of all sizes are reevaluating their budgets. The universal option of choice is to eliminate non-business essential marketing spending, which is hardly a surprise since frequently when a real crisis arises, marketing budgets are first to go. And right now, we are experiencing a whopper slowdown!
Successful businesses now face holding onto their pocketbook while remaining relevant. The entire business dynamic has flipped and now being a ‘specialist’ is going to decline. Companies are now looking for cooperative teams to complete multiple tasks to deliver good work. Carried to the next level, this wrinkle pushes marketers to expand their own specialist skillset to broader, more general abilities. Below are things to consider as your career evolves.
Telling A Story
Interestingly, facts are all-well-and-good, but stories actually do the ‘selling’. Think about the last time charts and tables moved you to take some sort of action. Not so much. Research shows that stories are memorable because they trigger an emotion and quickly signal the ‘essence’ of the message. In fact, stories are about 22 times more memorable that a list of facts.
That is why marketers should learn ways of weaving compelling narratives that align with market sentiment, customer priority yet incorporate their brand message. If they do not yet know this, the art of storytelling is now a MUST; crafting engaging, authentic, and credible messaging that both engages and strengthens the intended audience loyalty.
Grasping Data Analytics
Increasingly heightened focus on value, compel marketers to learn how to use data to quickly measure campaign effectiveness. Data-driven insights will also help marketers understand customers better, make the right decisions, and course-correct when necessary.
Design – Go There It is Fun
Statistics reflect that the human brain processes images up to 60,000 times faster than words. Great designs generally draw the attention an ad campaign deserves. With all of the new online technology, the basics of design and the art of using powerful visual storytelling is easier than ever. With a little practice (and fun) adding basic design to your marketing skills portfolio.
Don’t Hide - Embrace Technology
Awareness of the technology used in successful marketing programs includes designing, executing, and measuring - from automation of processes to the customer’s experience. A successful marketer must include the skillset and knowledge then APPLY them to successfully achieve their objectives.
Industry Savvy Matters
Beyond the technical side as defined above, marketers must understand their industry - business, product(s), and customers. Technology marketers should know how to write a basic flyer themselves. And define content and channel strategies that optimize ROI. You gain this expertise when actively listening and learning from cross-functional teams, i.e. (subject matter experts, sales teams, and business leaders). The corny slogan “practice makes perfect” has never been more relevant. Pay attention, become a sponge, ask questions, observe those experts you trust and rely upon in your team then hit the GO button. Your first couple of attempts may be bumpy, but mistakes are not deadly. Everyone learns from their mistakes … and sometimes those lessons help you win big in the long run.
Budget Plans Not Optional
Wise marketers learn budgeting and strategic planning very quickly. Your amazing campaign may be the best thing since sliced bread … but if you have no budget to fund it, well then it was only a great idea. Do your homework on short and long-term costs from A to Z. Know from the beginning what your marketing program entails and ensure that the funding for making it all happen is at your disposal. If you are not interested in the finance side of things, at least bring a competent accounting or finance planner into your universe ... and learn from them!
Thinking about all of the skills you must possess just to handle your job today can be daunting. Well, it is. But your success in this new era depends upon disregarding previous norms where individual team members each brought a specific skillset to the party while contributing to the marketing mix. Seems those days are declining fast!
Business today has many New Norms over which we seem to have little control. You may not want to take a personal assessment of your own skills. But, given all the unfilled time we all find ourselves with use it wisely. Consider ways you can adapt and remain vital to your company. Expanding your skillset makes you more productive and absolutely more effective. Do It!
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Ever had someone write a negative review or article about your company? It doesn’t feel very good. Hope it never happens to you, but if it does, you gotta get proactive in a hurry. Deal with negative article head-on rather than take a “wait to see what happens” attitude. There is no other way.
Negative Search Result Contents Impact the Brand:
- Sales — Potential customers looking for information about your business will leave
- Business Partnerships — Existing or future business relationships could suffer
- Funding — Lenders may limit capital gain access or raise rates if they suspect your business is at risk
- Employee Retention — Employee turnover and hiring costs increase if your brand reputation tanks
- Market Capitalization — A company’s stock price may fall as investors flee for safer investments
Crisis Recovery Plans Explore/Define:
- Internal/external stakeholders
- Primary spokespeople for each communication channel
- Communication infrastructure and redundancies
- Decision-making chain of command
- Access to emergency funds
- Holding statements
- Contingency plans
Digital Marketing Boosts Brand Reputation
To fix your brand’s negative content following a crisis then recover … understand how your search engine is involved. For example, Google’s algorithms use hundreds of ranking signals to determine the most relevant web pages for each search query. One such signal is topical relevance.
- Through repetition, search engines then use topical relevance to draw connections between concepts (even if previously unrelated). So, Google may favor content about a corporate crisis if excessive articles recently published connect your brand with the event.
- One solution is paid content — sponsored posts and earned media such as PR — to generate positive articles about your brand. Starbucks recently used this strategy to shift their brand’s narrative from racial bias training to banning plastic straws.
Reputation Management with No SEO Fails
SEO is labor-intensive and costly, but reputation management doesn’t work without a search engine optimization component. Publishing great content is only part of the strategy; you also must apply SEO best practices to rebuild your search landscape.
Optimize Your Social Profile and Post Regularly
Social networks rank very well for branded search queries. To be effective Google must receive properly coded and ‘active’ signals. Your profiles should include contact information, addresses, as well as a description highlighting your company’s name. Link it back to your website’s homepage, blog page, and other trusted sites.
Promote Your Best Online Content
Determine which favorable company mentions you want ranked on Google’s first page, then share these articles with your social channels to increase visibility and build backlinks to them. When appropriate include your brand name in the article’s title to help improve rankings.
SEO and digital marketing are the drivers of effective reputation management. Taking a proactive approach to brand protection allows you to attract potential customers and stave off negative or damaging news.
Online marketing strategies have really changed in the past five years. Did you even know that Google makes changes to its algorithm over 500 times a year and each of those changes has an
impact on where your business appears in search results? I sure did not.
Remembering when Google discovered “top” websites in organic searches and found old friends, checked out Wikipedia or served as a lazy man’s spellcheck. And now, when it is more important than ever for your website to get found, it is paramount that you make “key” website search terms that rank your business higher which in turn will get your business found!
Tactics to Increase Your Web Visibility:
- Focus on Getting Reviews on the Top 3 Directories: Google, Yelp and Facebook. Even though fake reviews are a growing problem, they remain a leading trust-builder and key factor in consumer research. Remember to respond to both negative and positive reviews; many consumers watch for those responses to determine whether to do business with your company or not.
- Optimize A Google-My-Business (GMB) Profile. While your website is ever important, visiting your website will be the first action taken after reading reviews. Take heed of the little in-search-website that Google provides - your GMB profile answers many of the questions your customers or potential customers ask:
- Are you still operating during shelter-in-place orders?
- What is your phone number?
- What are your business hours?
- What services do you provide?
- What areas do you serve?
Google examines your GMB profile first when a searcher looks for your business or clicks on your business in maps… a good reason to make it a valuable resource your business is a good find. Currently it is a free tool that helps your business attract and win customers.
- Engage Customers on Social Media – Consider Facebook Ads. More people are engaging brands on their favorite social media platforms and using platforms like Facebook to search for local businesses. This is especially true right now as more people are at home ‘glued’ to their computers. So, this is a great time to post engaging content and interact with customers on your business social media pages ... engage, inform, and get to know them. Service businesses doing this are winning via Facebook Ads. And, doing so will be important when Google twilights the third-party cookies that drive targeted ads on its platform.
- Focus on SEO, Not Rankings. Everyone wants their website to rank No. 1 and they tend to panic when Google inserts yet another result before organic results. Not to worry – just ensure that your website is optimized, mobile-friendly, engaging/interesting, and informative. Do not obsess over rankings. Searchers are savvy to ads; they know that even if a website or ad is first, it may not be the best choice.
- Operate Where Customers Are. If your prospects and customers are on Facebook and Instagram (strongly likely), make sure you are active on those platforms, answering questions, replying to messages, and providing helpful information. The point is that your reputation is more than just what your website says about you. And your customers have expectations that you will respond in a timely manner, engage with them, and provide feedback … so think about your online presence holistically.
Suggestions to Explore: Review all your “messaging” right now - check for tone and relevance. As we have all witnessed in the past four months, a sudden world-changing event can destroy the sales pitch that worked so well back then. Remember, your world has changed, but so has those prospects and customers. Consider their frame of mind today vs. what it was two months ago then implement realistic messages that are both appropriate and will benefit THEM.
No, you are not the master of the universe, but you can focus on the things within your control. Doing so will keep you in the game today and be out in front of what is in store for tomorrow.
Sadly, doing a ‘good thing’ by enforcing mandatory work-from-home policies has opened new doors for hackers. As many U.S. companies tell their employees to stay at home to fight the COVID-19 epidemic, home workers are vulnerable of becoming the weak link in the computer security chain.
Now that thousands of our workforce has shifted to ‘telework’ … the hack-attacks have escalated. Employers and newly remote employees should be prepared for a jump in fraudulent emails about COVID-19. Uploading unproven links in random, unknown emails has exploited flaws in popular software such as Adobe Flash and browsers including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Edge.
Sad but true - cybercriminals have weaponized some vital software - Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Map where it now is filled with malicious software,
Home Networks have become a serious challenge/threat for two high-level security challenges brought about by remote work.
- When working within a “security team” you lose control of the environment in which the users work ... for instance, have they secured their own home Wi-Fi?”
- IT team members MUST gain access to resources required to do their job. This means that your [new company’s] network perimeter must now include your employee's home -or- the coffee shops where they work. Some security programs are ready for this, but some just will not be.
Just be aware that home smart devices - many of which are built without security - are a key point of vulnerability for remote workers. In addition, people working from home are easily distracted, since they are used to working in the office, and likely causes mixing work with personal email and web browsing … and thereby potentially increases the risk of clicking on malware links.
Ways Employers Make “Working at Home” More Secure for Their Company
- Implement a multifactor authentication requirement for privileged users accessing the most sensitive/critical access to Internet-facing services. Multifactor authentication is a security measure requiring a user must provide two or more pieces of ID data (factors) to gain access to a device. This second security measure provides a password as well as a temporary passcode too.
- Ensure that the employee understand how to check common modem and router settings to confirm optimum security settings; recommend updating home Wi-Fi passwords.
- Employees must be watchful of receiving increased emails claiming to be from “senior staff” requesting bank transfers or gift card purchases that are illegitimate.
- Understand that self-isolation can cause normally rational people “to let their guard down” and believe scams. The Secret Service warned Americans about “phishing” - a widely-used scam where emails appear to be from a reputable company, such as a major bank or tech company, seeking victims to hand over sensitive personal information (usernames, passwords and credit card information). Cybercriminals are exploiting the COVID-19 crisis by sending emails appearing to be from legitimate medical and or health organizations. Some examples of this:
- Victims got a fraudulent email from a fake medical organization with attachments purporting to have important information about COVID-19. By clicking the attachment, malware automatically infected their system or prompted the victim to enter their email login credentials, to complete the task.
- Hackers and cybercriminals are all taking advantage of the Coronavirus outbreak; especially when there is a public health crisis or catastrophe in which people are desperate to find more information.
- Another scheme uses social media to dupe victims into donating to bogus charitable causes. “Criminals are exploiting the charitable spirit of individuals,” according to the advisory.
- A tragic fraud to watch for is “non-delivery scams” where, frauds pose as a “company” selling medical supplies used to prevent or protect against the COVID-19 … demanding payment or deposits up front but never deliver the products.
Since working from home may become more widely popular for many companies … even when isolation is not as critical, employers will be required to ensure that their employees have all the tools needed to do their jobs as well as have the necessary tools to keep company communications (voice and electronic) secure from cyber creeps.
Choosing to work with a virtual team can save jobs in this uncharted environment.
Be prepared and good luck.
We can assist your business connect with your customers during these challenging times.