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Four Skills Marketers Need To Thrive After COVID-19

Audio Version — 7:18

A Changing Employment Landscape

Let’s not beat around the bush; it’s brutal in the job market right now as COVID-19 rages through the U.S. In December 2020 — the latest data available — unemployment rose 6.7%, virtually doubling from the previous year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s 10.7 million people out of work. Let that sink in for a moment. It’s like the entire population of Alaska, Delaware, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming are unemployed all at once. 

COVID-19 has claimed over 2.2 million management, professional, and related occupations of which marketers — like you and I — make up a part of this employment demographic. There’s much competition amongst marketers, more so now than ever before. As marketers, we know that increased supply drives prices down and intensifies competition; and currently, there is an excess supply of marketers, making landing a new gig very competitive.

It is undoubtedly an employer’s market. Marketing salaries are lower than before the pandemic due to the influx of marketers’ supply and low demand in the job market. I spoke with a hiring manager for an Irvine, California based online finance firm who claimed to have sifted through 200 resumes for a single online marketing manager position. He stated that he had more than enough candidates to select from and had difficulty picking the best candidate.

 

illustration of man with mask for post covid-19 skills article

The 200 resumes were a small number of applicants than other industry professionals who had received hundreds more. Remote work for marketers can see up to 500 applicants for a single marketing position. 

Where does that leave the rest of us marketers when looking for our next career move? Out in the cold, if we do not adapt and compete for the few jobs available. After all, we’re marketers, and we should be competitive and poised to out-think our competition. But do we have the skills a post-COVID-19 job market requires from marketers to thrive? 

After my team and I lost our jobs due to a reverse merger acquisition and downsizing due to COVID-19, I found myself on the job market for the first time in 20-years. I had always moved on to the next marketing position with the help of contacts. Unfortunately, those contacts are either not hiring or in the same boat as me, unemployed.

I was humbled when my credentials were not enough to walk into a new position but that I had to compete for my next career role. I realized that I needed to adapt to a changing environment and possibly a permanent change in how business gets conducted for some time in the future.

Four Post COVID-19 Skills Marketers Need To Help Them Thrive

Through research, conversations with human resource professionals, and my 20-years of hiring marketing team members, I realized that marketers — and most other professionals — will require specific skills to adapt — or improve upon — to excel in the post-COVID business world.

  • Technological skills
  • Enriched Cognition
  • Adaptability and Resilience
  • Reliability and Integrity

Technological Skills

illustration of laptop for post covid-19 skills article 2COVID-19 has changed the way people do business. With many employees working from home, the virus added new challenges to connecting and working remotely. 

The new remote working business model requires employees to be better equipped to manage and troubleshoot technological challenges from their homes or remote locations. Possessing better digital skills will help the worker stay connected with peers, clients, vendors, and other stakeholders they engage with for business.

Improving digital skill knowledge in advanced analytics software, marketing automation, data collection, and data visualization could help marketers work more efficiently while working remotely and without larger teams, as firms scale back their workforces depending more on automation and fewer employees.

Enriched Cognition

The new working environment poses new operational challenges for firms. Remote work and increased competition require marketers to think creatively and sidestep what was once the norm. Marketers need to demonstrate their skills in an increasingly autonomous working environment with the ability to solve challenges remotely. 

Increasing one’s fluid intelligence — the capacity to learn new information — is a matter of training more on new concepts seeking novelty, and challenging themselves by thinking outside of one’s comfort zone or doing things the hard way.

Adaptability and Resilience

Marketing has changed with new technological advancements, and marketers need to adjust to how they once connected with consumers. Marketers need to embrace more digital communication channels than they did before COVID-19. Other marketing technology tools marketers need to acclimate to are marketing automation platforms and analytical tools to serve their customers better and streamline their processes for greater effectiveness.

Marketers also need to build resiliency through emotional intelligence, tolerance, and time management. As companies shift toward remote work, their job pool expands across borders. Simultaneously, as the firms move to more online business models, they raise their reach globally. Marketers that express increased emotional intelligence levels and tolerance will do better in the post-COVID-19 global market.

Equally as important for marketers post COVID-19 are time management skills. Marketers working autonomously and from home need to account for their time more than when working at a physical work location. Being better stewards of their time and tasks will help them succeed in the new business paradigm.

 

illustration of man holding umbrella while it rainsReliability and Integrity

It is not to say that marketers are not reliable or lack integrity; however, as firms move away from traditional brick-and-mortar work locations to remote working, marketers are left to their own devices. More so now than ever, integrity and reliability are crucial to building trust between marketers and their supervisors, teams, and customers. Remote work can often tempt employees to stray from their daily job tasks. Working remotely requires self-discipline, reliability, and integrity. Marketers that excel in all three areas will have tremendous success amongst their supervisors and peers.

Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live our lives and how we work and conduct business. If there is a return to the way things were, it will not be for a long time. In the interim, business professionals, specifically, marketers need to make changes to how they function professionally.  

Four skills to set marketers on a path to success in post-COVID-19 include:

  • Embracing new technological skills
  • Increasing their cognitive ability
  • Adapting and showing resilience
  • Being more reliable and increased integrity 

As marketers work autonomously, the four skills become increasingly important. Will things return the way they were? It is yet for certain. But one thing is for sure, business owners are adapting and will continue to embrace the new way of doing business in a scaled-back, remote world.

Crisis communication header image of girl speaking through megaphone

Crisis Communication – How to Communicate To Your Customers During COVID-19

Audio Version — 6:51

The Covid-19 pandemic caught many businesses, specifically B2B firms, unprepared to manage a crisis of its magnitude. Addressing supply chain challenges, customer support, and customer communication proved toilsome, especially for businesses without a crisis communication plan.

Due to COVID-19 and lack of preparedness, many B2B firms found that customers were switching to other suppliers for various reasons. Having a communication plan does not guarantee that B2B customers would stay with their primary supplier. However, it does help reduce the firm’s churn rate if customers receive sufficient and timely communication about how the business manages its operations, employees, and supply chain during a crisis. In other words, communication is crucial in letting your customers know your operational plans to make informed business decisions that reduce the impact of their operations. 

When silence ensues, trust issues develop, and eventually, the customer looks for other suppliers that can help fill the void. Thus, B2B firms need a communication strategy in play when a crisis occurs, regardless if it’s a small crisis or one on a macro scale like the current pandemic.

Crisis Communication

A time of intense difficulty or danger defines a crisis. The Covid-19 Pandemic has proven to be both dangerous and challenging for people, families, and businesses. 

crisis communication illustration of man talking on computer screen.Each firm experiences its crisis and must communicate to its customers differently, based on their current circumstances. For example, a manufacturer’s raw material supply chain may be disrupted and may not produce products for distribution to retail customers. Another B2B firm may experience employees working remotely for the first time and experience technical and organizational logistic challenges. In either scenario, the company’s process is disrupted and may impact customers. Regardless, to maintain trust, keep customer confidence, and continue operating under a crisis effectively, the company must communicate its challenges and plan to manage the situation while still serving the customers’ needs.

There are three steps to take in identifying the crisis before a firm can create a communication strategy. They must understand their unique situation by:

 

  1. Identifying the crisis and controlling the narrative:
    A company must first acknowledge that they have a dilemma. Ignoring or denying a problem may worsen the situation. Additionally, to keep customers, vendors, or possibly the media (for more substantial firms) from creating rumors, the company experiencing the crisis needs to control the narrative of what is occurring so that outside entities do not spread misinformation.
  2. Isolate your crisis:
    1. If your organization is experiencing challenges in one part of the business, isolate the crisis to just that area.
    2. Get ahead of the situation by communicating quickly to employees to keep them from spreading untruths about the company to customers and competitors.
    3. Explain what the company is doing about the challenges and how and when the company plans to solve them.
  3. Manage the crisis:
    Regardless of how small or large your crisis is, if you identified the situation, isolated it, then managing the crisis should be simple. Suppose your organization does not have a Communications Director, as many small to mid-sized B2B firms do not. In that case, you will need to assign the role to someone who can manage the situation, answer questions, and direct communication to outbound channels for customers.

What Should You Communicate to Customers During COVID-19?

Now that you have identified the crisis your firm faces, isolated it to the relevant department or process, and are managing the situation; It’s a good idea to know what customers want to know about how the business is handling COVID-19 or any other crisis. Below are some popular questions customers have about how businesses are managing their operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Popular Questions Customers Have About Businesses Handling COVID-19:

  • Explain how the leadership team plans to keep customers and employees safe from contamination if customers are required to visit the workplace or employees must be present at the worksite and are not working remotely.
  • If your organization produces products, specifically food or medication, or vitamins, explain the process of how the organization is keeping the products safe.
  • Identify any potential delays in products or services and how management plans to manage the uncertainties.
  • How is the organization managing any potential outbreaks and staff shortages?
  • What communication channels customers can use to receive updates and contact customer service.

Download five FREE customer crisis communication letter templates!

Click the link to visit the download page.

Channels Used to Communicate with Your Customers

crisis communication illustration - communication channelsTo create the most impact with your crisis communication, you need to determine where and how your customers are receiving your company communication. Do your customers receive a company newsletter? Are they active on social media sites, or do they visit your company website to get their information? You will want to deploy your message over several communication channels, such as your company website and a social media page such as Facebook. If you send out a company newsletter, that would be an excellent place to share your crisis communication.

Here are a few communication channels to consider when deploying your message:

  • Email
  • Social media
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • LinkedIn
    • YouTube
  • Company website
  • Newsletter
  • Regular mail
  • Press Releases

Conclusion

When faced with a crisis that impacts your operations, like COVID-19, you would benefit from having a crisis communication strategy. You first want to identify the crisis, then develop a plan to control the narrative so that misinformation does not paralyze your organization. Next, isolate the crisis, meaning localize it to just the impacted area of your business and get ahead by quickly communicating the crisis to employees and how you are handling it to stop any potential rumors. Finally, manage the crisis. If you identify and isolate the crisis, then managing it should be easy.

Once you have accomplished the central parts of crisis management, you will need to select the high-value channels to communicate your message to customers. Communication channels may include but are not limited to email, your website, social media sites, and even regular mail.

Acting quickly, communicating honestly and effectively with a plan may reduce brand damage and keep customers from abandoning your business.

 

Image of US dollars with charts for the marketing tip on COVID-19

Top Reasons Why B2B Buyers are Switching from Their Suppliers During COVID-19

Audio Version — 1:17

According to eMarketer, B2B buyers are switching from their current suppliers to new suppliers amid COVID-19. The top reason for the switch is that existing suppliers are unable to offer delivery. The pandemic has placed a strain not only on suppliers but on the supply chain as well. 

Additionally, B2B customers switched suppliers because the supplier is out of stock; their existing supplier cannot offer online ordering and a limited product range with the current supplier.

COVID-19 has exposed operational vulnerabilities within B2B firms. Many firms cannot react quickly to the crisis and lack effective contingency plans to manage such a shock to their business operations and industry. 

Why B2B Customers are switching suppliers emarketer graph

 

Looking ahead, to keep B2B Buyers, companies need to create plans that include contingencies in managing unexpected surges in demand, sudden stock shortages, restocking delays, and employee shortages due to illness or fear of catching the virus.

The solution is not simple. However, suppose B2B firms want to reduce the impact of COVID-19 or any other potential industry crippling event. In that case, they need effective processes and procedures to manage some of the suggestions noted above. Marketers may also need to adapt to the new “normal” and acquire new post-COVID skills to thrive.