No one can be certain when they may or may not go into a lockdown again. As I write this here in Auckland, we look like we may be housebound for quite some time. The Delta variant is a difficult one to shift and who knows if other strains and variants will follow. However, what we do know is that BD & Marketing in lockdown still needs to take place. For everyone in professional services, whilst your working environment may be challenging, it is vital to still undertake BD and Marketing activities.
However, what does this look like in practice? Each lockdown places a new mental strain on people, and the thrills of online meetings, webinars and digital marketing have dissipated as they are now no longer a new shiny toy. In fact, some people even view them as something they have to do while in a lockdown – which means they may not view them favourably at all!
This doesn’t mean these tools shouldn’t be used in your ‘BD & Marketing in lockdown’ efforts. However, the frequency of communication and what’s said needs to be considered very carefully. Attention spans are shorter than ever, and many people are juggling difficult home and work demands, whether that’s finding space to work in a crowded flatting situation, juggling homeschooling and working, or even dealing with the stress of being isolated at home, alone.
To help with this, below is a BD & Marketing in lockdown how-to guide. 9 simple steps to follow with a short explanation. At the end of this article, I’ve also included a free downloadable BD & Marketing in lockdown how to guide one-pager.
1. Do a digital audit at a firm and personal level
Now is a perfect time to look at your website content and check to see everything is up to date. It is also a good time to look at your own bio on your website and LinkedIn and check that everything is up to date and that you have consistency across both. For example, if you say you’re an expert in the Aviation sector on your company website but claim to be an expert in the Construction sector on your LinkedIn profile, it’s not a good look. If you need help updating your LinkedIn bio you’ll find that here.
2. Review and join some groups on LinkedIn
There are a ream of groups on LinkedIn with different levels of engagement. Now is a great time to spend some time researching ones that are relevant to you. Look to join ones that have active discussions taking place. This means once you join (and you may need to be approved by the group’s admin) you’ll be able to join those conversations.
3. Set clear boundaries on the time you spend on social media
There’s lots of benefits to networking online during lockdown but all social media can be very addictive. If you haven’t seen the excellent movie “the social dilemma” then now is a great time to watch it. With this in mind and with your own working environment being more taxing than ever, set boundaries so that you can reap the benefits of social selling whilst still delivering on your all-important client and home commitments.
4. Update your marketing plans – for the present and the future
Lockdowns mean that some of your previous plans will have been thrown out the window. It also means that your target audience may be fatigued and less likely to engage with online content. As an example, webinars are still important and if relevant and on point people will attend them or watch them at a later date.
So, look at what you should be doing now and what will work well. As a hint, less is more. Well-considered content or email marketing will work well. Flooding the digital media with content will not.
Then look at what you will do post lockdown. Plan for any speaking or in-person events. Start to plan and create lists of who you will try to meet face to face. Those with a plan to get meetings in the diary early, who then action them, will be the most successful post lockdown.
5. Content is king
Everyone in professional services is surely aware of how important content marketing is by now. However, if you’re not, this article explains succinctly why it is. It takes time to write and produce great content. Therefore, if you are less busy and focusing on the ins and outs of your business, start to consider what content you can produce.
If you have an internal BD or Marketing team, you can work with them to try and produce great content or you can reach out to an external consultant if you feel you need help getting started. In our second lockdown last year I wrote 6 months-worth of content and it won me some new clients, so it is definitely worth the effort for both the here and now, as well as the longer term.
6. Listen, empathise don’t solve
Do call, email, and speak to your clients and others in your network. Always check that it is a good time for them to talk before getting into a conversation. Then, give them the time and space to share their problems, be they work or even personal. Right now, people are looking for someone to share their problems with, they want to air and share them. What they don’t want is someone instantly trying to solve them. In lockdowns people have less conversations so if your client opens up, listen and empathise.
7. Don’t try to sell – however grim your current revenue situation
Some professional services firms are going gangbusters, certain parts of law, accountancy and engineering etc have benefitted from the so called ‘new normal’, however, not everyone has come out of lockdowns or even continued trading through lockdowns as strongly. If you are in that situation, avoid the temptation to try and force a deal. Your clients will have other more important issues, any attempt to ‘close’ a deal before it’s ready will either result in a price reduction at best but most likely you losing the deal altogether.
8. Be patient
In lockdowns, decision making slows intensely. If your client needs to have internal conversations it takes them longer to get to them. Their priorities shift on an almost daily basis too. Right now, in NSW, there is no certainty as to when their lockdown measures will end. That means some of your clients will be unwilling to commit to certain projects, until they do have certainty.
9. Don’t be idle
Sometimes in lockdowns you’ll have bad days, days when you may just not want to engage with the outside world. I’m no wellbeing or mindfulness coach, but that’s perfectly understandable and ok. However, the odd day is okay – but for your sanity and the health of your revenue pipeline it can’t become a habit.
In any economic market, those who are most successful in nurturing clients and winning work tend to be those who are most active. Therefore, make sure you do engage in conversations on the phone via email or on social media. Staying active now will produce great results for you moving forward.
BD & Marketing in Lockdown summary
In summarizing the above, now more than ever it is vital you invest in building rapport and acting as a confidante to your clients. Keep your marketing activity focused, relevant and purposeful. A well thought out digital campaign can have a massive cut-through in lockdown as your audience is somewhat captive, however, just pumping out material will have the opposite effect as the competition for their attention is fiercer than ever. Webinars remain a great way to stay top of mind, however, consider if that hour session can be reduced to 30 minutes.
Above all, if you have spare time, review your current plans and marketing material so that you can emerge from lockdown stronger and with a clear BD Client Action plan.
As promised, here is our one-page guide to BD & Marketing in lockdown.