Yes, the world has been turned upside down by Covid 19, and yes, the business world continues to operate where possible, with remote working adopted by many. But there are many aspects of normal business operations which must change and adapt - here's a top ten list of how to embrace the new normal.
Keep the conversation going
Now, more than ever, it's crucial to ensure your clients and customers are kept up to date with your business operations. Firstly you need to keep customers informed about your response to the pandemic, but also continue to share important information and announcements about your business.
Across B2B sectors, many businesses can still offer their services, with staff able to continue output in an online environment - the thing that's changed is where you connect with your clients and audience. They certainly won't be attending any industry events around the world, which have been cancelled or postponed, and with so many countries in lockdown, you can't get out there and meet existing clients and new prospects in person. But one place your audience will undoubtedly be is at home - and more importantly online - all eagerly consuming news and content that's relevant to them.
So this is the time to up your content game and make sure that you're still getting your story out there. Across social channels, trade media, and on your own website too.
Dial your content strategy up to 11
You might already have a blog, or a news section on your website. Maybe you currently post regular social media updates. That's great. But do you have a content strategy for the year, mapped out to make the most of calendar events related to your company activities, or those of your audience?
Even with the world locked down due to Covid 19, there's still plenty of topics that are important to your audience. While those industry events that you usually attend might be postponed until 2021, you can still open up conversations with your customers who are also missing out on the discussion due to travel restrictions and cancellations. Maybe it's a discussion about how things will be after the pandemic is over. Maybe you'll have some new ideas about products to cut through the noise.
Start by planning a variety of content approaches, from useful evergreen information to topical hub content to high-level hero content.
Pump up your company insights page
According to a recent hubspot marketing report, companies that use blogging as a part of their marketing strategy are 13x more likely to see positive ROI. Providing useful insights that are relevant to your audience's business sectors is a great way to start conversations with your target network.
Not only can blogging improve your chances of being favourably indexed by search engines, but if you include selected keywords in your content, you increase your chances of being highlighted in your audience's search results.
Moreover, your company news and insights page is your owned media space where you can keep clients, prospects, and employees informed about your business activities and successes. Combined with linking to your articles on social media channels, your news and insights page becomes central to your content marketing activity.
Don't delay your product launches
Just because you can't sing and dance about your latest product launch at a fancy event that you invite everyone to attend, doesn't mean you can't attract plenty of attention from your audience online. You just need to approach things a little differently with content and communications. You may even find a better way of promoting it that you hadn't considered before.
Communicate your new launches, signed business deals, and other business wins to trade media that your audience will follow. Include any assets that can help tell the story, such as images, video, logos and anything else that makes for a better article in the media and gives your target audience more to be engaged by. No-one like to read a page of copy with no image to illustrate it.
At the same time, make sure you update your company website's news section with the same content, while updating your social media channels with posts that point back to your site's article.
A unified approach means that your audience is more likely to see at least one of your touch points.
Optimise your company's online presence
There are many things you can do, and several that you absolutely must do, to optimise the online presence of your business.
From an SEO point of view, one of the most important actions is to give Google what it wants to improve your SERP ranking (Search Engine Results Page). After website SEO, your content creation can add more opportunities for your online presence to get recognised by Google, so find the best keywords that are relevant to your sector and include them where possible in your content offerings. And make sure you include your details on Google Business too - it's not just for local businesses.
You can also add more online places where your business is listed, providing more information and touch points for your customers to find you. LinkedIn and Facebook are the first sites people think of, but add more business-orientated info such as Wikipedia, or Crunchbase, which includes information such as investment and funding details, founding members and individuals in leadership positions, mergers and acquisitions, news, and industry trends.
Review your social channels
You'll need to analyse your audience to understand which social media channels they are using. B2B businesses in the iGaming and emerging tech sectors should focus efforts on LinkedIn and Facebook, but other channels such as Telegram, Twitter, and Instagram are equally important.
Clearly you need to inform people that your business has a page on social media, rather than hoping that they'll find it on their own. Running a 'likes' campaign for your Facebook business page, or a LinkedIn campaign to increase your page follows, is a good place to start.
Then, once you have a good following on social channels, it's important to create regular engaging content (see content strategy above). Don't just rely on everyday organic reach (which is limited in different ways by certain platforms), but plan a targeted campaign with paid or sponsored posts, allowing you to target specific groups with business interests aligned to your own.
Plan and execute new inbound marketing strategies
Beyond company news and your industry insights, you can also offer more valuable content that provides unique data that your audience will find beneficial. Researched industry stats, collated business views from the sector, and various other hero content strategies can help drive inbound marketing, delivering new sales leads to be contacted.
Creating researched content that resonates with your audience can require a little more time and budget, but by offering it behind a data capture landing page you'll get some instant return on your hard work. It's a great way to start a conversation with your network, and something that they may find useful to share as well.
Start posting regular video updates
While professional business video can be time-consuming and costly to produce, if you create quick, regular video updates about your business activities it can provide more personal interaction for your viewers.
Use your smartphone to record a short clip of 30secs to 2mins to provide clients, network contacts, and also your company employees, with a brief update on company matters, sector issues, and topical subjects (for example your response to Coronavirus!)
Posting the video (whether vertical or landscape orientation) on your social channels will also deliver more audience engagement and give your followers a more emotional connection to you and your business, rather than just being a faceless organisation.
Keep your staff informed
For businesses of all sizes, it's equally important to communicate your company news, updates, and strategic planning framework to employees at all levels. Solid, regular internal communications will bring your teams closer together and ensure that everyone is working towards shared goals. It will promote positive morale for your staff in difficult times, and when there are company wide effects from a global crisis like Covid19, it's crucial to ensure everyone understands what's going on.
More than ever before, staff around the world are working remotely to avoid spreading the Coronavirus infections. Adapting to a remote working environment can be daunting, but simple activities, such as team video conferencing each morning, can help keep teams together, even while apart.
And even after this global pandemic situation has subsided, the way we work could well have changed forever. Team video conferencing and remote working could become more widely accepted and reveal new benefits, both for your staff and for your business, so be sure to optimise how it works and develop a good structure for your online get-togethers.
Make use of the time to learn new skills
Lastly, we may have some extra time on our hands while the world adjusts to the 'new normal' in how we work. Now is the time to dedicate 30mins each day to up-skill your marketing knowledge and become certified with online courses.
Google Academy offers really useful courses that will have an impact on your business abilities and skillset. Training in Google analytics, Google ads, and many other business critical services can provide tangible benefits for your business communications.
Hubspot courses are also worth looking at in more detail. These aren't academic certifications, but the knowledge and value of what you learn will help you manage your business in new ways, perhaps saving you time and money.
Facebook's free online training offering, Facebook Blueprint, gives you access to more than 80 courses about how to market your business on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. From 5-minute lessons to in-depth courses, Facebook Blueprint is a great resource for you and your teams.
Need any help or advice with these?
With the current Covid19 situation likely to upset business activities for the foreseeable future, now is the time to review your comms and content strategy. The suggestions above are a good starting point, and if you invest time to create a solid online presence for your business, you'll find staying in touch with your network is an effective way to mitigate the problems created by the pandemic.
Feel free to get in touch and we'll be happy to have a chat about your current comms and content. We'll give you any advice that could be useful, and if you still need help getting things off the ground, we can provide more details about our services.