As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt across the country, reviewing your business marketing plan and tracking your progress may be one of the last things on your mind. However, business and economic uncertainty is the exact reason you should be taking this time to re-evaluate your marketing approach, to help end 2020 on a high note and set up a strong 2021.
During the latest Expert Connexions discussion, mConnexions Principal Strategist Julie Holton sat down with Kim Hafley, Marketing and Recruitment Director at Foster Swift Collins & Smith law firm, along with mConnexions strategists Alexis Neumann and Katie Rexrode, to provide valuable insight and direction on how to make the most of the next six months and keep your business’s marketing efforts on track.
Kim has led the marketing team at Foster Swift law firm for more than 11 years. Before that, she was the Vice President of Marketing at Two Men and Truck’s headquarters. Since the pandemic began, she has quickly had to reprioritize and shift her marketing strategy to better support the firm with its more than 100 attorneys and multiple offices.
“We’ve all had to broaden what we do,’’ she said during the roundtable. “If you look at it from a pure traditional marketing standpoint, we have to keep branding a focus going forward while we are also reacting very quickly to change. We also had to look at the tools and technology we use. For anyone interested in marketing, you have to be just as passionate about technology and psychology as you are about marketing because the three are just interwoven so closely together.”
“You’ve really made a shift in these webinars,” Julie added. “When we think of a webinar, we think of everyone sitting back on their computer to watch. Instead, you’ve created this interactive, dynamic environment… and it wasn’t even a part of your original 2020 marketing strategy!”
How has marketing strategy and approach changed in 2020?
Since March, marketers have had to be more creative in their approach due to social distancing restrictions. With no end in sight to the pandemic, they will continue to have to think of innovative ways to network and promote their companies.
“Sales and cashflow are always going to be at the forefront of any business,’’ Alexis said. “The economy is on an unpredictable path and spending remains questionable. However, instead of focusing on the things we can’t do, what are some opportunities that we do have? Like human connection, building more brand and business loyalty, highlighting our ties to the community. What are some creative ways we can focus on other brand and business elements that will help strengthen us for when we go back to business as usual.’’
Like other businesses, Foster Swift has had to make logistical and strategic changes to navigate the pandemic. One change Kim made was adding webinars into her updated marketing plan. While the firm had hosted them in the past, they weren’t a key component of her original 2020 marketing plan. When the pandemic hit, Kim knew webinars would allow attorneys to provide key information to their clients, while also promoting the different services the firm provides.
“It goes back to the basic marketing definition – it’s about fulfilling a purchaser’s wants or needs,’’ she said. “It really gets down to knowing what the needs are right now. What do we need to do to make Foster Swift a viable productive business while also supporting the people we serve?”
More than 20 webinars later, the marketing team at Foster Swift has heard positive feedback from both their clients and attorneys, and they are planning more webinars and interactive meetings online. Kim said they also work to repurpose the content through as many outlets as possible including email and social media.
How can we create effectively build brand awareness in a time of such uncertainty?
Creating content, and repurposing it, is a great, low-budget approach for businesses of all sizes, Alexis said.
“Our thought process has to be… how can I provide the same kind of content, the same types of opportunities to my clients and customers but in a digital way?’’ she said. “You can’t be afraid to experiment with video, with live meetings, with roundtable discussions.’’
To make sure you are on the right track with planning, look into resources you may already have available to you. Allow your employees to be ambassadors for your brand. There are always people who can help and creative ways to market.
“Marketing can be really overwhelming, even in normal times,’’ Katie said. “Check out what your competitors are doing. Decide what you are comfortable with and aim for the low-hanging fruit and that’s going to help you overcome fatigue and feeling overwhelmed. You are networking from your desk so you have to get creative.”
Kim said when she reintroduced the idea of webinars at her firm, some attorneys didn’t feel comfortable participating. So she encouraged them to do what they felt comfortable with and to consider partnering with others in the firm to help them.
“But you know what they did feel comfortable doing? They felt comf