CO - Markinnovation

Surviving and soon thriving again: what you're doing now really matters

Surviving and soon thriving again: what you're doing now really matters

Five weeks ago, before any of us really knew ‘how bad things would get’ I wrote on LinkedIn >about the aftermath of Covid-19 for B2B events. Everything in this piece is as important and relevant today as it was then.

But reading this piece again today is like reading something written long ago by an old friend who I have not seen for some time. And if I was to continue imagining for a moment that this was in fact written not by me, but this dear friend – what would say to her if I called her today for a chat?

I’d ask her how she’s doing. How her family is. How her business is holding up.

And what would she say? I expect it would be something like…

‘My family is well, thank goodness. Not something to be taken for granted.

But it’s been tough.

I have had some very dark days.

But I am not a nurse, or hospital cleaner, or doctor, or care home worker. I am not on the front line of this health crisis. So, self-pity is not something I can allow. This virus will be overcome, and these heroes should be deeply revered always.

Inspired by these ordinary people doing extraordinary things, I am focusing on what I can do to make a difference. My essential work, my ‘war effort’ if you like, is to keep my business going while helping as many people as I can – clients and business friends – to also keep moving forward, so that when the economy starts recovering - we can build again.’

So, here I am. Having ‘reconnected’ with my old self over the Easter break, I have discovered that I am at heart a hopeful person. And my hope comes from the conviction that we will lift our eyes to the horizon and consider the long term commitment we need to make to our clients and communities if our hard work to survive now is to come to anything.

Now, more than ever, it is important to play the long game. How we invest our energy, time and money over the next couple of months will determine how we can help our clients and communities get back on their feet and move forward. As providers of valuable knowledge and connections that enable businesses to create strong strategies and operations for survival and future success, B2B media and events people are key workers in helping every sector of our battered global economy recover.

Based on MPG’s work to identify critical areas for marketing focus going forward and numerous conversations with B2B media and events business leaders over the past few weeks, I believe these are the most important questions we should be focused on answering right now:

1.     If I have a paid-for subscriptions product or membership:

  • Is my renewal program well-structured and sufficiently resourced to ensure I can maintain or improve my retention rate in the coming months?
  • For acquisitions, I may already have more leads than usual coming in, but are they the right leads?
  • Do I have a strong understanding of where these leads are coming from? If I want to ramp this up, how would I do this?
  • How am I doing against my core KPIs: conversion rates, average order values, length of sales cycle, cost per acquisition?
  • Are my leads being well nurtured and managed via the right combination of manual and automated processes?
  • If I were to put in place a well-structured marketing program for lead generation, lead nurturing and lead management - how many more sales could I achieve? What would my ROI be?

2.     If I have postponed or cancelled events:

  • How am I working out what my audience’s specific pain points and burning needs are right now?
  • Am I staying close enough to my precious customers and am I asking them the right questions and then really listening to what they’re saying?
  • What content am I creating and distributing to help my community and to keep them engaged, while at the same time maintaining and building my brand’s position as a conduit to valuable knowledge and connections?
  • How am I measuring the engagement levels and behaviors of my core audience? What tracking and monitoring tools and processes do I have in place to determine how my audience is responding to the content I'm putting out there? How will I know the ROI of my content marketing efforts?
  • How am I making data-led decisions about how to move forward? Am I gathering and analyzing all the right data points?

3.     If I've taken my event(s) online:

  • How am I structuring the event content and setting up my speakers to deliver a great and valuable online customer experience?
  • How am I marketing my event to drive registrations and then good attendance ‘on the day’?
  • What kind of ‘at event’ and ‘post event’ marketing am I planning to ensure my attendees, registrants and wider community can all gain maximum benefit from the digital content I've created or curated?
  • How am I helping event attendees make valuable connections via my virtual event?
  • How am I measuring the impact and ROI of my various virtual event marketing initiatives?

4.     If I'm relying on revenue from clients (sponsors, exhibitors & advertisers) who need to reach my audience:

  • How am I structuring my digital content and marketing programs to deliver the best value for my clients in terms of brand positioning and lead generation?
  • How can I be confident I can deliver the quality and quantity of leads my clients need?
  • How am I helping my clients qualify and nurture the leads I generate for them – to ensure they achieve a strong ROI?

By focusing on answering these questions well over the next couple of months, we will keep moving forward in the right way.

But there is more to think about and act on.

Many people have been asking me and the rest of the MPG team “What areas of marketing should I be investing in right now to ensure my business has the best chance of bouncing back well when the recovery comes?”

I am happy to share our response with you!

To protect revenue at risk and recover lost revenue, it is essential to invest in the following four areas of marketing as soon as you possibly can:

1.     A well-designed, community-focused content marketing program that addresses your community’s critical, current pain points and opportunities. It doesn’t matter if you put your content out as written pieces on your website (articles, interviews or blogs) or as webinars, videos or podcasts. What matters much more than the format is the content itself and how well it solves a real, urgent problem or opportunity your customers are currently facing. 

2.     Excellent marcomms to promote your digital content and virtual events. To cut through the much increased ‘digital noise’ you need highly targeted and relevant marketing messages, beautifully crafted and well designed.

3.     Whatever you’re selling – if it’s subscriptions, digital sponsorship opportunities, virtual event tickets or live event tickets – a well-engineered marketing program for lead generation, lead nurturing and lead management is essential. Automate as much as you can and ensure you’re consistently tracking key metrics with a rigorous performance measurement process.

4.     A ‘post-Covid-19’ era marketing strategy. Invest in a strategic project to put in place the community-focused marketing capability you need to succeed in the future. You need the right marketing people (skills), systems (martech), and processes to catch the ‘upturn’ wave when it comes. The last thing you’ll need or want is your marketing function holding you back when your customers and the rest of the organization are raring to go.

  • Helen Coetzee
    Helen Coetzee
    Co-founder & Director, Marketing Pro Group

    Since 1998, Helen has worked on designing and delivering high performance marketing strategies for some of the world’s leading B2B media & events brands, before founding MPG with the vision of building a high performance, digitally-focused and data-led marketing team. In 2019 she co-founded AGNC, giving clients direct access to the digital & data specialists that have powered MPG’s projects since 2014.

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