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Why Helping, Not Selling, Is the Smartest Marketing Approach Right Now

In the midst of this crisis, many marketers feel that they need to be amazing at using digital platforms and technology. For many, so much time is being spent investigating and evaluating digital technology choices and platforms that it’s become paralysing.

However, repeated research continues to tell us the specific platform you use is not the most important thing. As a digital marketer – more than ever – you need to be good at these three things:

*** Understanding your audience’s buying journey

You need to understand how your audience or prospects behave and how they act. 78% of marketers polled recently by Regalix agreed this is the number one capability you need as a marketer.

*** Knowing how to influence your audience’s buying journey

How to get the audience from a static ‘we can’t do anything’ to ‘actually, we might be able to work with you’.

*** Knowing which channels to use to influence your audience’s buying journey 

In normal times you may be comparing events with digital options. At the moment, you need to evaluate different digital channels to influence your audience.

Notice that two of the three above attributes are focused on understanding your audience.

That’s particularly true during this crisis. The number one thing you should focus on now is putting yourself in your audience’s shoes.

The impact of COVID-19 on your audience

We can use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943 – to illustrate how your audience might well be responding to the current crisis.

It’s important to understand that your audience is likely to have shifted somewhat in response to COVID-19; for instance, from “esteem”, down to ‘safety’ (or even ‘physiological’ in some instance).

Right now, many of the people you communicate with will be:

  1. Worrying about their role, their family and themselves. Everything that they took for granted has been turned on its head.
  2. More focussed on just getting through the day or the week than ever before.
  3. Feeling out of control, less able to make decisions that influence the medium or long term.
  4. Experiencing heightened emotions.

Many of your audience will simply be thinking “What the heck am I going to do” (frankly, you might be feeling more like this too).

Your audience is going through a huge amount of change. That will change the way they consume content.

Because of where they might now sit in Maslow’s hierarchy model, they will be less open to people selling to them and they will be much more open to people who want to help them. And they need to make sure the people they’re working with are doing things for the right reasons – their ‘authenticity radar’ will be stronger than ever before.

Therefore, understanding and empathising with your audience, rather than selling to them, has never been more important.

Empathy is the number 1 capability to focus on during this crisis

This means that the tone and delivering of your marketing approach is suddenly critical. The experience that you give your audience as a marketer, and subsequently in the BD/sales process, is more important than ever.

Remember, in normal times the sales experience makes up 53% of why clients choose you – the biggest reason. 19% is brand, 19% product and service, and only 9% is down to price.

During the crisis, this will be wildly exaggerated. Your audience will be thinking are you selling to me or are you trying to help me? The way you make your audience feel is the most important thing now.

This article is one of a series of articles designed to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some other posts in this series:

Why death by webinar will soon become a real thing (and what to do about it).

How to evaluate new webinar partnerships

3 major forces re-shaping the business landscape due to COVID-19

Marketing best practices during COVID-19: Building success during uncertainty