Shifting Your Marketing Budget in the Time of COVID-19, and the Foreseeable Future

It’s now been more than two months since stay-at-home orders went into effect around the country. In an effort to flatten the curve and save lives, many of the activities we’re used to have halted completely, including industry events and conferences.  And it’s not just for a few months – we are not likely to see these events resume in any kind of “normal” capacity in 2020 and potentially even through 2021. However, many companies rely on tradeshows as a primary source of sales leads, leaving CMOs wondering how to replace those leads, and how to reallocate marketing budget that is typically spent on event sponsorships and booth presence. Below are some of the strategic tips and recommendations we’ve been sharing with our clients, to help them make the shift to a digital-only marketing plan.

Virtual Events
Since tech tradeshows and events for 2020 have been cancelled or moved online, companies are experimenting with hosting their own virtual events, or paying to participate in others’ virtual events. The jury is still out on just how effective these events are, but certainly the more engaging you can make them, the better. Incorporate polls and share results in real-time, and answer questions from attendees live, as opposed to holding all questions for the end. Offer forums and discussion sessions in which you encourage attendees to interact with each other, too. It’s also best to keep sessions short so attendees don’t zone out or become distracted. Many different companies offer virtual event packages, including WIRED, Dark Reading, SC Media, and theCUBE/SiliconANGLE, and prices range drastically – $4,500 all the way up to $395,000. Because of this, it’s critical to understand what type of leads you’re promised, both quantity and quality, and ensure it’s worth the investment.

Webinars are nothing new, but the volume of publications jumping in to offer webinars in this new era has spiked. Readers of certain publications are more likely to attend webinars held by that publication, and some even offer their own reporters and editors as moderators, which makes the invite even more appealing. ZDNet, TechRepublic, IDG, CIO, CSO, Threatpost and WIRED are just a sampling of the publications offering webinars, and most packages include cross-channel promotion, and of course, leads.

Pitching Business Press in the Time of COVID-19

Paid Content
Paid, long-form content is already prevalent, but how publications are identifying (or not identifying) what is paid, has been changing. Depending on the publication, you can purchase one-time content placements or a series of articles to ensure readers are exposed to your messaging regularly. Publications also usually feature paid content in their e-newsletters and promote on social media. Downloadable paid content can be designed to generate leads, or membership-type programs (e.g. Forbes Tech Council) can be leveraged to strengthen thought leadership and brand awareness.

Focus on Buyer Personas
It is essential to know who your buyer is and how they spend their time online – what they read and where they read it, what hashtags they use on social media, and how they collaborate with others. Thanks to robust social media profiles and advanced tools, this is actually far more achievable than it may seem. You can determine which LinkedIn groups your buyers belong to and which ones they actively engage in, what analysts, reporters and thought leaders they follow, what kind of content they engage with most, and many other characteristics that may signal interest in your solution. 10Fold has helped many clients generate buyer personas and use them to inform their communications and messaging approach. This leads to much lower cost-per-click and cost-per-lead metrics and much higher conversion rates.

If we can leave you with one key takeaway, it’s that times have changed, and your marketing strategies must change accordingly. One of our favorite sayings is that doing the same thing over and over yet expecting different results is insanity. If you want different results, it’s time to try a different approach.

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