As this article is being written, many of us are working from home rather than in our offices, watching the news to learn the latest updates on the spread of the Covid-19 virus, and struggling to maintain some semblance of balance in this everchanging environment. Many of the decisions being made currently are based on what USED to be, what PREVIOUSLY worked, and how things WERE pre-Covid-19. We see the results all around us of this approach. People dying (or at least getting sick enough to require significant medical help), schools, work, and leisure activities opening without proper forethought on how they conduct themselves given that subjecting students/employees/guests or patrons exposure to other people is no longer permissible by law, and a whole host of other requirements. There are those among us who are holding on to the fervent belief that it will all work out without any changing in approach necessary. Regardless of where you fall on this continuum, as business professionals, there must be a change to how we market our products in this dynamic environment.
Point 1: We are going to have to learn to market and sell our products and services remotely. To rely solely on face-to-face interactions will severely reduce the number of prospects we can engage with, and thus, ultimately convert into customers. Websites, webinars, videos, and other remotely delivered methods are now a requirement to attract and convert those in need of our products and services.
Point 2: Should a vaccine be available in the future, the demand for information remotely by prospects and customers will not wane. Differentiating yourself exclusively by your firm handshake and a smile during a meeting will no longer be enough. The opportunities to do that will be limited (even in the future once it is deemed safe to do so) if the business has not provided enough pre-meeting rationale for a prospect to wish to engage in via online methods. If there is no website, or if it is incomplete in helping a prospect recognize the value the business offers, and how it exceeds competitors, the likelihood that it ever advances to a chance to shine in person will be stunted.
Even in the event that we all get the vaccine and can return to the way we once did business, the business will be well-served to retain the ability to interact with prospects online. It also makes good business sense. It is less expensive to qualify someone and respond to common questions via website-housed content, or through webinars, podcasts, white papers, etc.
Point 3: If we treat this Covid-19 situation as a warning and an opportunity to prepare for the next challenge to our business, we will be that much further ahead when the inevitable occurs. Whether that be a flu or other illness, a natural disaster, or anything else that interrupts our “business as usual” methods, we have to know that we cannot become too comfortable with the way business is conducted. Technology impacts change, competitors enter and leave the market, even our own employees and suppliers may enter or exit our employ for their own reasons. If we have not prepared for change in general, and if we have not SPECIFICALLY migrated to being able to move people through our sales and marketing funnels (at least more than we may have prior to the challenge of Covid-19), we are leaving opportunities untapped and available for our competition to swoop in and take from us (often without us even knowing it happened).
While we wait for the medical professionals to come up with a way to inoculate us against the disease that has many of us stuck at home and thinking twice about congregating in public places, have you taken the business vaccine to prevent you from losing prospects to customers because you are stuck in the old way of doing business? If you are not marketing via electronic means at all, if you stubbornly refuse to migrate some of your selling activities to online, if you have yet to learn from current experience – then it is only fair to remind ourselves:
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”