Your marketing budget may be flat or on hold when the economy falters. It’s an unfortunate reality in uncertain times. While you’re waiting for things to improve, use the time wisely and set your company up for success by taking three steps:
1. Collaborate with sales, marketing and customer support teams
These departments are often siloed, especially in large organizations. When these teams don’t talk to one another, they may duplicate efforts, missing opportunities for cost savings; contribute to poor customer experience; and lose out on potentially great ideas that collaboration often sparks.
Each team has a unique perspective that contributes to a company’s performance. Salespeople help solve customers’ and prospects’ problems by promoting their companies’ products and services.
Marketing pros improve brand awareness, create and promote content that addresses prospects’ and customers’ pain points and problems, and position their companies as thought leaders. Customer support teams respond to customers’ questions, complaints and requests.
When they pull from their respective strengths and work as a cohesive team, their customers benefit from improved interactions and outcomes while their companies grow and thrive.
Sounds great, right? But how could they work together in the real world?
Consider this scenario at a manufacturer:
The company has an annual competition in which engineers brainstorm ideas for new products and enhancements to existing ones. The event generates hundreds of ideas, some of which end up in production. If customer support reps participated, their perspectives around trouble tickets and customer requests would be invaluable. They know the bug fixes, upgrades and new solutions that would improve customer experience.
Meanwhile, the salespeople could provide context for customers’ pain points and how the company could address those challenges. They also know what competitors are up to, why people choose those products and how to earn that business, and offer suggestions for entering untapped markets.
In turn, marketers could brainstorm ideas for supporting the sales and customer support teams and meeting customer content needs at each stage of the buyer’s journey. As a unified group, the teams could accomplish so much more than any one team on its own.
Look at it this way: The engineers can dream up game-changing ideas all day, every day, but if the products aren’t up to snuff, the salespeople won’t be able to sell them effectively, marketing initiatives will likely fail and customer support will continue to receive the same old complaints.
What would the competition look like if the engineers, customer support, sales and marketing were able to put their heads together?
Collaboration could drive:
- Solutions for recurring customer problems
- Approaches for improving customer response and delivery times
- Product enhancements and new products
- Service improvements and new services
- Ideas for speeding product development
- Lead generation
- Cross-selling for related and complementary products and services
- Thought leadership content
- Marketing solutions that address customers’ challenges
- Branding that differentiates the company
Take the First Step
The possibilities for innovation and improved customer experience are endless if everyone works together. If your company’s sales, marketing and customer support teams aren’t in alignment, start taking the steps to get there today.
Schedule a “lunch-and-learn” video meeting where teams can get to know one another in an informal setting. Each can share its successes and challenges, opening the door to future discussions. As the teams get more comfortable with one another, they can meet remotely or in person to focus on solutions that will improve customer experience and help the company succeed.
2. Nail Your Company’s Value and Own It
Your value proposition is the reason people buy from you. It specifies what’s in it for customers when they purchase your products or services. The proposition connects your customers’ problems to your solutions. Think of it as your brand promise.
A simple, clear value prop helps you define your target customers and connect with them. Without it, prospects won’t have a reason to choose your company over your competitors, as HubSpot explains. In addition, a great value prop lays the foundation for all of your sales and marketing initiatives.
Your value prop should be the first thing visitors see on your website homepage. You should also repeat it on your site’s major entry points and landing pages. Value props are usually short, so including a statement that expands on your main value helps reel in prospects.
Mailchimp, a marketing automation and email marketing platform, has an excellent value prop: “Marketing smarts for big ideas.” It’s simple, direct and aspirational. The supporting statement, “Mailchimp helps small businesses do big things …” is equally clear. The platform is targeting small businesses that want to rack up achievements, whatever they may be.
Bonus Real-World Example
Wrike, a project management platform, appeals to the “modern, agile enterprise” in its value prop. The tagline is aspirational, telling prospects they’ll “crush” their goals if they use Wrike. Unlike Mailchimp, Wrike speaks directly to prospects with the second-person pronoun “your.” This is a smart strategy because it draws people in with a personal appeal, as does “you.”
Take the First Step
Creating a strong value prop hinges on identifying your customers’ biggest problem and how you solve it. Make it clear why your company is the one customers should choose. Put yourself in their shoes to understand their goals and pain points.
If this seems overwhelming, select a few of your top customers and send them a brief questionnaire.
- What have we done that was of most value to you? Why was it valuable?
- What results have you achieved from using our products/services?
- Why did you choose us as opposed to one of our competitors?
- If we could do just one thing that would enhance your experience in using our products/services, what would that be?
- What is the single most important benefit you get from using our products/services?
When you get their feedback, connect your value to their single biggest pain point and your solution. When you do that, prospective customers will see that your products/services are the answer they’ve been looking for.
3. Host Free Webinars
Free webinars introduce your brand to new audiences and help you build brand awareness and trust with prospects. Be aware that they require significant lead time and prep. You’ll need to brainstorm topics, generate a list of targeted prospects to invite, plan and promote the event, and rehearse.
If you don’t already have one, you’ll also need a webinar platform to share your presentation with others online. Microsoft Teams, Webex and GoToMeeting are popular choices. An even cheaper (free) option is Zoom Video Webinars. You can host a Zoom webinar for as many as 100 participants for up to 40 minutes at no cost.
The more appealing the topic is, the greater the participation will be. Think about your prospects’ problems and what support they likely need. Webinars are informational and educational, so address attendees’ pain points without a sales pitch. If people think you’re going to sell to them, they won’t sign up.
Once you’ve nailed down the topic, pull a list of prospective attendees from your sales database and begin working on the agenda. The agenda should include speakers, subjects and times. Meanwhile, the marketing team can start working on a landing page, e-blast series and social media campaigns to promote the event and encourage participation. Promote the event four to six weeks in advance.
They need to know the webinar will be worth their while, so in all of your marketing for the event, include a couple of teaser benefits to entice attendees. If you plan to have an exceptional speaker, be sure to highlight that individual in your webinar marketing.
Let’s say you manage a wealth management firm that caters to high-net-worth clients. Your audience may want to know how changing tax laws will affect their retirement and estate plans. You can use your existing webinar platform to host a 45-minute presentation that includes 15 minutes for questions and answers.
Create a slide deck that you’ll present to your audience as you talk through it. Keep it simple with eye-catching graphics and minimal text. Make the presentation about them – not you. Be sure to rehearse with your team so you can be comfortable with the content, stick to the time limit and correct any technical issues or other hiccups before the webinar.
After the presentation, follow up with personalized emails to the attendees. You can send them a copy of your deck and links to relevant, useful content. Keep the conversation going with your attendees and develop relationships with them that are based on you helping them – not selling to them.
Take the First Step
Talk with your sales and customer support teams to identify your customers’ and prospects’ pain points. How can you help them address their problems? Make a list of potential webinar topics around these issues and think about your in-house experts who could lead the presentations.
You can also review your competitors’ websites and marketing to see if they offer webinars and what they cover. You can put your own spin on the topics or find a new angle to attract attendees. If your company has an active LinkedIn page, you can also see what people are talking about there. Those conversations could be the basis for your next webinar topic.
Make the Most of It
In low- or no-marketing budget times, be creative about what you can accomplish. Whether your company hit a rough patch or is simply being more conservative with its marketing budget, put the pieces in place for future wins when there are more to go around. You’ll be glad you did – and so will the customers you helped to attract and retain while you were working behind the scenes.
Now, to You
What marketing budget tactics has your company had success with during challenging economic times? Let us know in the comments below.