In a time of so much uncertainty, it is likely that business leaders will need to make a pivot in their normal operational strategy. Because of this, marketers are forced to address a multitude of challenges and questions including how their messaging should change in light of a public health crisis, what they can do to continue to generate qualified leads, and how their spending and budgets will be affected due to canceled events and changes in cash flow.
During a time when everything seems to have been turned upside down, perhaps marketers should follow suit and turn the traditional marketing funnel upside down as well. Usually, when marketers are operating “business-as-usual”, the traditional marketing funnel starts with utilizing advertising, trade shows and SEO to create awareness and generate qualified and interested sales leads. From there, marketers then nurture these leads in order to move them through the funnel until a prospect is ready to purchase and ultimately become a customer.
Given the unpredictability and change in today’s business environment, many traditional top-of-the funnel activities that would usually create awareness such as trade shows, may no longer be feasible or as effective as they would’ve been. Also, in times of uncertainty, people tend to look to sources they already trust, making building awareness among new prospects more challenging.
This is why marketers must pivot their strategy and recognize that the part of the sales and marketing funnel that happens after the sale becomes increasingly valuable in times like this. It is important to remember that regardless of the business environment, your most precious marketing asset is your existing customer base. If you have built trust, your current customers will continue to buy from you, perhaps even increasing their purchases because it feels safe, especially when surrounded by increased uncertainty in the world. Aside from the continued revenue they will bring, your existing customer base will also serve as great references to generate new business and potentially post reviews or speak with prospective clients on your behalf. When people in their network ask for suggestions on what to buy or who to work with during this time, they will recommend you. The cultivation of trust with clients doesn’t happen automatically. Marketers will need to continue to work hard in this “upside down” funnel to successfully leverage their existing customer base and capitalize on the circumstance.
What should your company be doing now to focus on this part of the funnel?
Elevate your client experience. If you are shifting part of your experience online, consider how potential changes will affect your customer’s experience. Be sure to continue to deliver an excellent customer experience online and train your team on these changes. Look for opportunities to overdeliver on experience, such as accelerating delivery, doing something extra for your clients or expressing appreciation.
Make it easy for your clients to continue to buy from you. Make sure your customers are aware of any shifts in how you are delivering your products or services, and before making these shifts, be sure that these changes meet their needs.
Clarify your value and simplify. Communicate to your customers what you can do for them now. Clarify your service offering and communicate it to your client base. In a time like this, it is important to streamline and offer less, not more.
Activate loyalty programs. If you have a referral or frequent purchaser program, make sure your customers know about it. Also, make sure it is easy for your customers to repurchase.
Don’t forget about your former clients. Touch base with former clients and let them know how you are offering your services and products. If you’re making certain services available to your current clients at a free or reduced cost, consider extending the offer to former clients as well.
Finally, as you are thinking about how to activate this part of your funnel, focus on engaging first and selling later. Consider that in today’s environment, simply getting a customer to interact with your brand is a success. Serve them now and they will remember you when they are ready to buy.
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