Today’s unique and unfamiliar situation turns all plans and routines upside down. Naturally, as in any crisis, the business priority is to put out all the immediate fires and make sure the company’s daily operation can continue. But after that, what should be prioritized when planning marketing activities in such unprecedented times?
INS discussed this question with Staffan Sjöberg. As a Swedish communications specialist with a journalistic background, Staffan has worked for over 30 years in the B2B field, with experience in everything from MedTech and high-end tech, to the Swedish paper industry. As a recent retiree, he currently contributes as an advisor for his former contacts. Here is his take on communication through a crisis…
INS Trade Media Service: Is today’s situation truly unique?
Staffan Sjöberg: Absolutely. What we are experiencing is a largely unprecedented event, and the shock-waves are being felt globally. But all crises have a lot in common; we can apply previous experience from similarly challenging and uncertain times to draw conclusions and develop creative solutions.
INS: How are companies’ marketing activities affected by the crisis?
SS: When talking about export of industrial goods, we must note that all our traditionally trusted approaches are temporarily off the menu. Industrial trade exhibitions are cancelled, sales related travel is highly restricted. As a journalist I always speak fondly of collaboration with the trade press as an alternative channel to reach both existing and prospective customers. Salespeople I’ve worked with closely also testify for the advantage they’ve felt from the customer already having read about the products in their own trade press.
INS: Is the trade press really interested in product news in the middle of this catastrophe?
Staffan Sjöberg: industrial salesman and marketing strategist: “If you have good product news, use it! Both your customers and trade press seek good news in these difficult times”
SS: The trade press objectively monitors their respective fields closely on behalf of their readers. There is, however, also a psychological aspect to consider. In dark times every ray of light is appreciated. Good news is precisely what the editors want to present to their readers.
INS: Do the customers have time to follow product news in times of crisis?
SS: Absolutely. When insecurity and uncertainty in the world is high, you must try to reduce them by any means possible. One way is to keep fully up to date with what is going on in your own sector. Customers are also striving to minimize risks even more than usually by collaborating with the strongest suppliers in the industry. If, as a supplier you manage to be seen in the buyers’ own trusted trade media, it’s a big win!
INS: Thank you Staffan, one last comment?
SS: Some companies associate successful press management and outreach with paid advertisements or automated mass send-outs. Nothing could be further from the truth. The big and successful firms systematically and precisely target the right trade press in their field, and the results are clear: trade media relations are a strategic part of successful marketing.
Staffan makes one more vital observation: “In the marketing world there is plenty of research to show that the classic reflex in times of crisis is to cut down on all communications. As a result, it is quite normal that marketing budgets are drastically reduced. The same research also indicates that those who persist and manage to maintain visibility during the crisis come out the other end as winners with greater market shares. In my opinion, these results are directly linked to proper trade media relations management.”
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