Marketing during the Pandemic: 5 Key Priorities

Learning to adapt to disruptive, unexpected changes, has been the defining challenge of 2020 for small businesses and enterprises alike. While the world has certainly not stopped moving, it has changed quite suddenly and somewhat slowed down from its usual pace.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is a unique and unprecedented situation in human history, drastic and unforeseen changes are not. Adapting to change and surviving in the face of adversity is what we human beings do best. With a plan in mind and the will to push forward, you can keep your business running, and even manage to grow during disruptive times like these. Here are 5 key marketing priorities you need to keep straight during the pandemic:

1) Keep Marketing

When it became obvious that lockdowns and social distancing would be the new normal for 2020, many companies had the immediate reaction to pull back on marketing efforts and budgets to focus on other business areas. While this may make sense to some businesses, it's important to note that marketing is what keeps customers both interested in your brand and aware that you are able to keep your head above water during trying times. In a landscape where other businesses may be defunding marketing efforts, your business may very well have more time and more space to expose your brand to a broader audience. Don't stop marketing during the pandemic; rather, find new ways to adapt your marketing to the current environment and stay relevant in your audiences' minds.

2) Study the niche

Data is a more important business resource than ever before, giving you deep and useful insights into your target audience. Use your data to perform niche market analysis and learn more about buyer behavior, trends, and preferences, so you can take advantage of marketing tactics such as demand generation and social media marketing to reach out to them. Knowing were to reach them, and what message may appeal to them will make it easier for you to draw out an effective and pandemic-ready marketing strategy.

3) Deliver experience

It seems like ages ago that we were insisting on how the experience economy was taking over. This year has been a shakeup, but it doesn't mean that we've stopped living the experience economy. If anything, the fact that we are all spending more time at home, online and on our devices, and having less face-to-face experiences, means that we are more open to the digital experience. What experiences should you be delivering during the pandemic? Saftey, empathy, awareness, and social responsibility are all experiences you should deliver to your audiences to make them feel understood and supported.

4) Use direct marketing

Use niche market analysis to find the audiences you should be targeting and use direct marketing tactics to deliver the experiences they are looking for. PPC, social media advertising and email marketing are all direct marketing tactics that can be effective if correctly targeted. As mentioned above, people are spending more time at home, online, on their devices, meaning they are in a position to be marketed to directly.

5) Track, analyze, and adjust

Data never lies, and data can show you the future. Track everything you do and keep dashboards on important indicators of how your marketing efforts are performing. This will show what you are doing right and what you may need to adjust. For example, when running a PPC campaign, we constantly adjust our budgets for keywords depending on performance; its a game of learning and adaptation. With enough historical data, you'll be able to make projections and study possible future trends, giving you the ability to stay five steps ahead. Track your efforts, track audience behavior, and track your competition; the truth lies in the middle of all those things.

There's no easy answer to what we're going through; we're all having to adapt in real-time against an unprecedented and rapidly-escalating situation. The most important thing we need to do is stay patient and focus on the long-term. Marketing is, in essence, a long-term process, so anything you do right now to adjust to the times should also be viewed within long-term goals and expectations. There are certainly many business opportunities arising despite (and in some instances, because) of the pandemic. Still, it's also important to keep in mind that this will eventually be over, and another period of readaptation will come. Think about an exit strategy for the post-pandemic era where there will likely be an aggressive economic boom; be ready to ride that wave too.

Need help with a pandemic marketing strategy? We're helping all our clients adapt to these unprecedented times. Let's talk!

7 Critical Actions to Consider for Successful Rebranding

Rebranding should not come as a light exercise or an easy decision. It goes beyond altering your corporate look and feel or updating your logo. Your brand isn't just your image; your brand tells your audience what you stand for and deeply influences their feelings about your organization.

There's a lot of psychology involved in our choices as consumers. You may not premeditate too much on what brand of soft drink to pick from the store cooler, but your choice is influenced by a long series of cerebral synapses that lead you to pick a Coke over a Pepsi. You may rarely think about it, but what would make you choose Pepsi instead? And, does Pepsi really even want you to be their customer?

From planning to execution, rebranding should have a defined purpose, a sound strategy for execution and adoption, and marketing readiness. Organizations often rebrand for the wrong reasons, making large investments that can even ultimately lead to their downfall. Here are 7 critical actions your business should take in its rebranding exercise:

1. Start with research

Research your brand, audience, market, employees, partners, and competitors before even taking a rebrand into consideration. Understanding your position, goals, and the needs of every stakeholder that will be affected are of utmost importance in reaching a decision. Make proper assessments, use analytics, and study market data to know where you stand.

2. Justifying a rebrand

Rebrand for the right reason only. Too many businesses decide to rebrand with misguided expectations and set themselves up for a letdown. We've talked about this before; rebranding isn't a cure-all solution, it's part of a larger plan. A rebrand can help you improve or consolidate messaging, differentiate your brand from the competition, and support your marketing and sales teams in their efforts to create brand awareness, among other specific goals. Make sure your rebrand goals are aligned with what is possible and avoid creating false expectations from the exercise.

3. Creating brand awareness

Consider the investment that will be made during a rebrand. It goes beyond designing assets; you'll have to start changing all your promotional material including pens, mugs, shirts, etc., as well as updating your new branding across all your digital channels such as email signatures and social media accounts. Creating brand awareness should not only be an outbound project; the rebrand needs to permeate an organization's people and corporate culture. The idea is to ensure that the effort for brand awareness is an organization-wide effort and that every member of the organization feels motivated by the brand and works to get the message across.

4. Cater to the customer

Rebranding can bring in new audiences for sure, but the last thing you want to do is alienate your existing clientele. When rebranding, consider who your customers are, what their preferences are, and why they chose your company in the first place; don't stray too far from what brought you success. If your organization is in the healthcare industry, you wouldn't want to rebrand to look like you sell fine spirits, for example. Unless you're trying to completely turn around a failed branding experiment or make customers forget about their past experience with your brand, your rebranding efforts should stay within certain limits.

5. Build trust

In our current age of misinformation, spam, and online scamming, its difficult to trust a brand you don't know. Building trust is crucial in earning both brand recognition and new customers. If you have big-name partners such as Microsoft or SAP, you'll want to ensure you flaunt that on your website and other channels. If you have social or community work, charities, or support an NGO, make sure your audience sees this and use it to create a narrative around the positive work your organization is doing beyond capital gains. These are trust-building elements that make your audience feel more comfortable working with your organization.

6. Avoid confusion

Rebranding brings with it changes that can confuse customers and partners if you're organization isn't well-prepared to launch. Marketing strategy, along with marketing collateral, press releases, newsletters, and social media posts, should all be aligned to communicate a clear message that reaches as many people as possible from day one. Be prepared to announce what's going on before any change takes place.

7. Show progress

Rebranding shouldn't be about showing the world you've fixed your problems, nor should it be about hiding who you were as an organization. If anything, rebranding should be about showcasing growth, progress, and positive change. Your rebrand should be about broadening your appeal and audience and show the long way you've come from being a startup in a basement to a booming organization with hundreds of employees. Rebrand from a positive starting point, whenever possible, and show the motive to be about growth and evolution.

Are you considering rebranding? Talk to our experts about your brand and see where you stand and what you can do to improve.

4 Ways to Boost your B2B Social Media Marketing

In 2020, the B2B social media economy will become more relevant than ever. Here are a few ways you can improve your approach to take advantage of this dynamic playing field.

Social media channels are constantly flooded with B2C marketing for everything from fried chicken sandwiches to oddball products from Wish. It seems B2C marketing is all too easy on social media, but B2B social media marketing can often seem less straightforward. Longer sales cycles mean that it might prove difficult to find a clear road towards a successful B2B social media strategy.

B2B organizations commonly find themselves struggling with how to use their social media channels. You've probably seen it from some of your LinkedIn connections: aimless, random posts that serve little to no purpose with flat content that doesn't say much. If you feel that is what your organization is doing, here are a few tricks to get out of bad habits immediately:

1. Use paid social media to flaunt your branding

It doesn't make much sense to pay for social media ads if you're not going to make it eye-catching. Make sure that your organic posts and your paid posts are aligned with your branding style guide. This guarantees branding has exposure and also increases the chances for brand association and your organic posts getting attention from people who have already been exposed to your ads.

2. Insert your customers into your narrative

If you aren't using case studies as part of your content marketing strategy, then please start doing so right now. Case studies, success stories, and testimonials add immediate value to your brand and give other potential customers the chance to identify with similar challenges to those highlighted. B2B companies rely on trust, reputation, and recommendations to secure business relationships; inserting your customers into your social marketing narrative strengthens these relationships.

However, you may not want to come off as trying to haggle some kudos from your clients, so give back by sharing their content and success stories on your social media channels as well. Being a "good neighbor" goes a long way in digital B2B marketing. Boast your successes, but highlight your client and showcase them as the hero in your story. This will make it easier to get testimonials from them or permissions to feature their actual brand in a case study instead of having to white label them.

3. Feed your social media strategy with pillar content

It takes quite a bit of effort to create a piece of content such as a blog, an article, a case study, or a calendar of monthly posts. Since you're putting all that effort into it, why not make the most of it?

First, start with creating a valuable piece of content that has plenty of substance. Let's say an article; this one for example. "5 Ways to Boost your B2B Social Media Marketing". This article is posted on the blog on our website, but we're going to use snippets from this article to use in social media. We're also going to derive ideas from this article to post additional tips throughout the month and use those to tie-in to our other services such as content development and PPC. Also, if you created a video, you can use snippets from the video to feed your social media channels over several weeks while also promoting the video itself.

4. Humanize your messaging on social media

Traditional advertising doesn't sound all that human. They use hyperbole and often try to hard to get your attention. We use social media to interact with other humans, so we tend to expect social media to sound more human than a TV or radio ad. Brands nowadays are always looking for that "emotional connection" with their customers; social media gives you a great platform to do that.

There are several ways to humanize your brand's voice on social media. Inserting a certain amount of humor can go a long way, but be careful to not try too hard or you can risk sounding disingenuous. A great way to show how human you are is to show who your humans are; showcase staff and leadership members alike and share their stories. You can also have your CEO personally write out a message to the public each month and post it.

Your organization can also adhere to a cause and make sure that cause gets plenty of attention across social media channels. Aside from the reward that standing up for a good cause already brings in itself, your audience will see that your company does more than just try to make money. Industry research shows that globally, over 60% of consumers prefer to consume products and services from companies they know are doing something good for the world and reflect their own values.

Here at CXGS, we aim to create social media strategies that create value for our clients. It goes beyond keeping your channels busy, there needs to be a purpose and a direction for B2B social media marketing that will lead to a closer connection with your audiences. Learn more about how we can help!

Rebranding: Looking Beyond ROI

Is rebranding worth the investment? The benefits might go much further than just ROI

Rebranding is one of the most significant changes a business can undergo. It represents a major shift in how a company presents itself and how the audience will perceive it from that point forward.

A rebrand can be massively successful, reinvigorating a company and bringing in new generations of customers. However, this can also backfire if it is not carefully planned and executed. Business leaders are often wary of making a large investment if they don't see a rapid turnover, but ROI shouldn't be the only factor to consider when making the decision to rebrand.

The New Coke case

Those old enough to remember Coca-Cola's rebranding to "New Coke" in the '80s know its reputation as a cautionary tale on rebranding. In their rebranding effort, they not only changed their logo, their packaging, and their messaging, they also reformulated the soft drink itself. This led to severe consumer backlash, and ultimately benefited their main competitors, Pepsi.

This story has a reputation as being a warning against rebranding, but the story did not end at New Coke. After their consumer backlash, Coca-Cola rebranded once again to "Coca-Cola Classic", embracing both their vintage image and changing their messaging to reflect their brand as an inseparable part of American culture. We don't need to tell you if that second rebranding was successful; Coca-Cola is the single most recognized brand in the entire world.

So, why rebrand?

Rebranding can have a very large ripple effect that leads to increased brand awareness, increased sales, increased customer loyalty and market share, and even reduced marketing expenses over time. Some business leaders might look at rebranding from a purely ROI perspective, but ROI should not be the leading trigger for a rebranding effort. The New Coke case is an example of why looking to create a rapid ROI lead to a short-sighted rebrand attempt that was ultimately a failure.

If you are a business leader looking to rebrand, you should ask yourself some questions about your company to ensure your rebrand campaign is justified. The first question is, why are you considering this change? Some valid triggers for rebranding include a change in leadership, a change in revenue targets, a merger or purchase, or a product/service launch. Decreasing sales, increasing competition, and a need to refresh an outdated image are also valid triggers to consider a rebrand.

What does rebranding solve?

It's important to note that rebranding is not an end-all, cure-all solution to a business' problems. Putting too much faith in an image change can lead to flawed expectations of the results and problems a rebrand can solve. A rebrand can go a long way in supporting a sales team with an aggressive multi-faceted marketing campaign that spans across many channels. But the rebrand itself won't close sales for your team. So, what specific issues can a rebrand solve?

As a business leader, you should then ask yourself what you can expect your business to achieve if you can solve these problems. For example, if rebranding can consolidate your messaging and make it easier for your marketing team to create brand awareness, it will, in turn, be easier for your sales team to pitch your brand to leads. This is how rebranding justifies its ROI, but the largest benefit of rebranding is often an overlooked one.

Rebranding forces reassessment

Beyond the changes that a rebrand brings to corporate image and messaging and the monetary benefit, rebranding forces a process that makes you assess your business from every angle. The rebranding process will force your company to look both at what it does right and what it's doing wrong. Simply bringing a rebrand to the table will trigger some tough discussions that can ultimately bring change to the organization across many different branches.

Leading by example

Here at CXGlobals, we have done branding and re-branding work for many of our customers. We believe in our process, and we believe that change is constant. So we are proud to announce that CXGlobals is becoming CXGS. We are glad to welcome 2020 by refreshing our corporate branding as we continue to grow and evolve. Changes have already started, and we should be fully rebranded by the first weeks of December.

To all of our loyal clients and partners, thank you for your support throughout the years! We will continue to provide our service at the very highest of our standards!