You may not be able to connect with them in person, but you can still make it personal

April 16, 2020
The $1.5 trillion corporate events space is temporarily extinct, according to Bloomberg News, with almost one million attendees dismissed overnight. And you have eight dozen emails from CEOs with a sudden and deep concern for your struggle.

So exactly what are you going to do about building rapport and continuing to reach customers and partners on a personal level, given the sudden vacuum in the interpersonal marketing space? How do you reach your customers in new ways, or repurpose some old gems, thinking differently about how they fit into new-world marketing?

A good start may be to remember that what you do now will exponentially affect your trajectory in the very near future. And it isn’t all bad news. If we follow historical trends, the COVID-19 aftermath will likely produce an economic slingshot affect, a new technology explosion, and an opportunity for your company to stay in the limelight and forge ahead of your competition.

Here are a few ideas to help you ride the wave into the long-promised virtual future.

ONE

Use unplanned change to fuel divergent thinking.

Move your event(s) budget into other channels.

For many conferences, up to 60% of the event budget is spent on the venue, equipment, and food. Now is a great time to re-invest those earmarked event funds.

If you plan on replacing in-person conferences with video summits or interactive webinars, consider getting that SME or influencer that you couldn’t quite splurge for after paying for all those conference rooms. Or go crazy and get two.

Social media, streaming, gaming, search, and news are being consumed at record rates. Learn to play hide and seek with your audience and discover if there are new and more efficient places you can target.

 

Download the Somnio Virtualization Guide

Somnio’s 2020 Virtualization Guide provides insight into six new ways you can maintain client connection, maximize reach, and use existing tools to keep your brand and your ideas on their minds.

Learn more about tips for interactive webinars, podcasts, online communities, large-format stage presentations, live-streaming, and inbound marketing by reading the guide.

TWO

Keep your ear to the ground.

Listen. Then lead with crucial and current content.

This is not groundbreaking advice, but it bears repeating. If you aren’t listening to your audience, the well-crafted email from your CEO might be the 34th version of the same thing in any given inbox, getting deleted before reading past “A message from…”

Everyone knows life has changed, and the baseline assumption of your customers is that you aren’t sitting still and doing nothing.

So now is a great time to audit your current content, refresh where necessary (which should give you a little SEO bump as a bonus), and hone in on the information your audience finds useful to them. That may mean imparting information about real changes to how you do business with them, or tips to help them better equip for the changes that many face with their own clients.

Maintain your empathetic tone, be helpful, be calm, but above all, lead and last with meaningful content.

 

THREE

It isn’t just business. This is personal.

Sharing your organization’s WHY is still important. But now, more than ever, it’s critical to make sure your clients understand that why in the context of who.

B2B cycles are longer, and more carefully considered, but they are still highly influenced by emotional drivers. Trust, confidence, and reassurance are key differentiators, and they are largely driven by interpersonal interactions.

Stay up to date on how the latest technology can build bridges among your audience. Dozens of start-ups offer tools that are being adopted quickly to do just this.

One-way communication is fine for a keynote. But in today’s new virtual world, you have to make the most of your technology — and your creativity — to reproduce the interpersonal moments experienced at events.

Now is the time to be as transparent as possible. Interview thought leaders for your content. Return the favor by contributing to their content, whether blog, social feed, or podcast. Maintain your narrative, but allow others to tell your story in their own way.

Breakout sessions alongside virtual keynotes, SME Q&As, community created/directed content, AMAs, and personalized messaging and support are all considerations to bring the people back into the business.

FOUR

Pay attention to your production values.

Until now, many virtual delivery methods have been almost solely utilitarian, used to quickly or easily disseminate information, coordinate work, or provide training.

Kick that up a notch. How pro can you go? Light the way with well-produced, professional, and interactive experiences that closely mimic rewarding interpersonal interactions of the recent past.

Good production values for video and podcasts don’t have to involve a full crew, huge stage setup, or a lot of travel. Even simple steps like using multiple camera angles, or using green screens in post-production can show that you know how to keep your story together, even while we’re apart.

If you are depending on internal SMEs or clients recording their own content, put together an equipment package, including a good microphone, that you can easily ship along with basic how-to instructions.

Showing your audience you know how to use virtual platforms is a boon to information delivery, but also to brand. The world has already been diverted to the path less traveled, so blaze the trail boldly.

FIVE

Lighten up a little.

If there is anything we all need more of right now, it’s some laughter.

Acknowledging the awkward (and sometimes embarrassing) humor in technology adoption, or bringing out more escapist or experiential methods, can create uplifting moments to help cut through suffocating anxiety.

Humor and lighthearted fare, especially if you can tie it into your existing narrative, help keep your brand in mind as more human and more understanding.

SIX

Prepare to rebound.

This, like most things, will not last forever. There are already encouraging signs of recovery. As you pivot to keep ahead of COVID-19, your clients, and your content, remember that what you do now during crisis can help you stay relevant, or even leapfrog competition, when we emerge from the pandemic together.

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