B Y T O M T O R T O R I C I
Sure, it may be ridiculous to try to predict where we’ll be when this dark cloud finally recedes. But if you’ve have had some extra time on your hands lately, admit it, you’ve probably started thinking ahead too.
Two things we can pretty much depend on, though: a painful shakeout that sadly, not every small business will survive; and an eventual economic recovery for firms adaptable and prepared enough to seize the opportunities. If these 5 early predictions help at least one uneasy business owner imagine a way forward, color me thrilled.
Nobody likes change, but guess what.
The good news is, none of the ideas that follow are brand new. Many smart B2B companies have already progressed in these directions, because they’ve figured out what their prospects tend to respond to.
On the other hand, brands, marketing and websites that try to carry old school approaches into the new world may seem as out of touch as TV commercials from the 1950s.
So here are the trends that I believe will accelerate, in part because those who embrace them as they adapt and rebrand are more likely to dominate the new normal marketplace.
1. More Helping, Less Selling
Buyers who are trying to rebuild their businesses will be even less tolerant of marketing that sounds like, well, marketing. The same old vague boasts and unsupported claims that seem okay to the vendor’s managers will sound even more hollow and self-serving than they already do.
The remedy? Redirecting messaging to help prospects fuel their own resurgence. Offer creative but useful ideas, info and insights to address both old and new challenges. Not every helpful suggestion needs to lead to your own products or services.
Also in this we’re-all-in-this-together world, buyers will gravitate to suppliers who offer more guidance than pitching during introductory phone calls. After all, a knowledgeable resource who has already started helping is more likely to get to complete the job.
2. More Specialists, Fewer Generalists
Segmenting messages for different target industries has long been a core principle of successful email marketing. Yet those same marketers often maintain ‘generalist’ websites.
In the future, more B2B buyers are likely to seek vendors who know their industry and their markets, and how both are dealing with recent events. Especially in a time of change and uncertainty, they need a guide who’s already familiar with their territory.
Of course, many vendors are afraid that restricting their pipeline to one vertical will make them miss out on other opportunities. The answer, perhaps, is to be a multi-specialist.
The easy and popular fix here is to drive your web visitors to industry-specific pages (which should look like Home pages, not text pages). The more ambitious and effective fix is to have separate divisions or brands to that speak directly to each of your major markets. The second option allows separate websites or sub-domains to optimize for many more long-tail search terms, and claim topic authority for keywords like ‘Accounting for Construction Firms.’
Another idea is to maintain one generalist brand and one specialist brand, for two potential sources of revenue. Why not?
3. More Customer Focus, Less Company Focus
Related to #1 above, companies that continue to emphasize their own experience, commitment or mission I think will sound tone-deaf to recently-traumatized businesses.
Now more than ever I‘m more likely to trust a provider who ‘gets it’ in terms of my recent experiences, continuing commitments, and mission to rebuild – including both logical and emotional aspects.
Post-Covid, simply saying “We put the customer first” isn’t going to cut it (notice the word they started the sentence with). It’s not about how the vendor sees its customers; it’s about how businesspeople trying to adapt to new circumstances see themselves.
4. More Scanning, Less Reading
When they’re planning their comeback and reviving old plans, businesses will naturally be online looking for professional support and solutions. But I don’t see them plowing through long paragraphs of tiny, closely-spaced text to find what they need.
We already ‘scan’ web pages and other marketing media to see if anything catches our eye, and that’s a practice that’s not going away. That’s why media that’s intentionally built for short attention spans will likely become as important as websites intentionally built to work on mobile.
Larger text. Shorter paragraphs. Segmented snippets of teaser content that link to deeper dives. And most of all, compelling points in prominent headlines that connect with even the most impatient scanners.
5. More Options, Fewer Dollars
The pent-up needs out there will, at some point, help fuel an economic recovery. But the financial spigot is likely to start as a trickle rather than a fire hose. After months of financial hardship, a company’s will to ramp back up may be more ambitious than their initial budgets.
If you’re a B2B provider, that could mean offering project and price options that you might not have otherwise: new-customer discounts, free add-ons, and scaled-down packages to get them started.
With an eye to the future, try building proposals with a modest Phase I (updating what they have now) and a more ambitious Phase II (doing a full replacement later), so it’s understood up front that there’s more to come. Maybe apply a portion of the current Phase I fee to the future Phase II work; the customer may be more likely to complete something they’ve already started paying for.
We already know that a big commitment is easier to sell when the prospect is first eased on board with a small commitment. Plus vendors who are more flexible when buyers are down are more likely to be called back when they’re feeling healthier.
As my colleague Jeff Wolfe recently observed, ‘we’re a day closer to recovery than we were yesterday.’
How might you apply the ideas above for the resurgence of your own business? Get in touch to schedule a Free one-hour Think It Through session.
Happy to help, with no obligation whatsoever. I’ll also throw in a PDF list of custom recommendations if you subscribe to my blog offering additional post-Covid business ideas and insights.
About the Author: Tom Tortorici is an Atlanta copywriter and web content writer who helps companies make a genuine connection with their audience. His classes and conference presentations have focused on how writing, strategy and design can work together to grab attention and interest even among readers with short attention spans. In addition to working directly with businesses, Tom regularly partners with web designers and marketing agencies.
Tom Tortorici Inc. | Tom@TomTortorici.com | 770-934-7861 | 3101 Rockaway Rd | Atlanta GA 30341