How a global pandemic changes the way we market

As the world faces a sudden change of pace and we are thrust into the new reality of working from home, we face a challenge to change with the times.

…And what a change it is.

We wake up, go through our morning routine of getting ready for work, and then go sit down at the temporary office desk at home. No meeting clients, no walking up to the sales department for a quick catch-up. We’re all working at a different pace.

Since social distancing has become the norm, other methods of communication have become far more valuable. Online chats, emails, calls, and video calls—welcome to the new era of the remote office. Marketing and sales, working hand in hand, have made use of these technologies to come together virtually and serve their customers worldwide.

Redefining the current business outlook

Anticipating customer needs
Fashion brands Dior and Givenchy have started making hand sanitizer. Many companies across the world are currently invested in making disposable gloves and masks. As we are all plunged into this new situation, different needs have grown out of it. People who never thought they would need to handle large scale operations are forced to do so. New leaders are emerging who are catering to people in need.

  • How can you help these people?
  • What voice should you use to reach out to them?
  • How can you minimize damage and maximize development?
  • Which tools can help achieve these goals?

These are all questions that marketers need to be asking to prepare our new strategies.

Let’s say a small-scale NGO is suddenly faced with the new task of helping a large number of people, and their communication system is getting overwhelmed in the transition. At Zoho, we ask ourselves how our collaboration tools can help them stay connected. What free services can we provide them with?

When a company is short-staffed, how can your own products help them maximize their work?

Not “targets”, but people
While considering what the best methods are to communicate, it’s important to remember that who we’re talking to are people, not targets. What we need is a deeper understanding of our customers’ needs and problems. This is one of the best times to get to know your customers and their industries better. As you pick up a call or start a video conference with them, you can see their pets lying around or hear their children in the background. We are literally in each others’ homes now. So far, what was a business to customer communication, has become a person to person, employee to employee communication.

Sales and support: a shift in focus
This is also a time of learning for sales and support people. For example, a customer from the fashion industry might be having a very different struggle currently from another customer in IT services. This is the time when people might be looking for an alternative to what they have been using so far. To understand these requirements and to present yourself accordingly, it may become necessary to refocus the scope of your learning to be industry-wide.

How you sell now matters to what you become in the future.

Communication is the key
Our communication has increased as we have become isolated. At the moment, it’s become all the more necessary to make sure that any communication is not only effective but meaningful. Check up on your customers to see how they are doing and what unique needs have arisen from the new situation.

Your focus should be more on supporting your customers via all your channels, like social, community, and support.

Creating content that helps
Have you recently noticed DIY and cooking videos popping up in your recommended videos? Yes, people are using this time to learn and upgrade their skills, whether they’re life skills like cooking or getting a new degree on an e-learning platform. For many professionals, this is a one-of-a-kind chance to upgrade your skills and become more relevant to your customers. From training videos to webinars and podcasts, right now is an endless opportunity for learning. Marketers need to seize this opportunity to create a supply of educational content that will help people learn your products better.

To help our customers learn and implement our own products better, we have been doing the following activities:

1. Creating new help docs

2. Producing more training videos

3. Hosting webinars

4. Adding live chat help to all our pages.

5. Lending a helping hand to those in need (ESAP). Our customers worldwide have made it possible for us to extend this courtesy to them.

6. Coming up with helpful new features.

Collaboration tools
Although online collaboration has been a part of our lives for quite some time now, most of us are still new to doing it on a full-time basis. Who would have thought that sales and marketing teams wouldn’t be able to hold a face to face conversation for this long? Online collaboration is key for sales and marketing teams to stay updated on the current situation.

Here are some of the online collaboration tools that we have been using daily:
Cliq, Meeting, Showtime, Workdrive, Projects, Sprints, Assist, Writer, Sheet, and Show

All of the above are available in Remotely, our remote working bundle, which has been made free until the 1st of July, 2020.

Growing your audience
There may be certain people who you have tried to reach out to—or vice versa—in the past, but because of lack of time, you haven’t had an opportunity. People who you thought you could never reach before now have much more time availability. So, reach out to them. With travel time cut down, canceled business trips, and city lockdowns, many unavailable people have now become available.

Social selling
Another side effect of having extra time on your hands is that people are engaging more on social media platforms. Starting a relevant conversation and engaging with users on these platforms is a good way to stay connected and follow the customer’s pulse.

Community
Beyond just sales and marketing, a big chunk of Zoho’s communication activities are managed by our community of users and partners. Just like how we are using this platform right now to understand the challenges you are facing and how you are handling them. In the community, our conversations flow organically and build a strong bond of familiarity among users, partners, product enthusiasts, and sales and marketing people.

At Zoho
It’s been more than a month since we’ve started working from home. Zoho is one of the first companies in India to have started work from home, even before the government directive. We have promised to remain available remotely for all customers who need our help.

How has the current situation transformed your sales and marketing? Let us know in the comments.

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