Many companies either throttled back or paused their marketing altogether when COVID hit. Whether it was due to slashed budgets or uncertainty of the future, one thing is clear: those who took their foot off the gas over the last two years missed opportunities and are falling behind during this age of rapid digital transformation. Many of the changes that resulted from the pandemic are with us to stay — the need for stronger online customer presence, a focus on user experience, better digital assets for your sales team, remote work, virtual events and staffing shortages. As the world continues to rapidly evolve into a more digital one, the only thing that is certain is the brands who are the most effective at connecting with the prospects and customer online will win.
If your company’s digital marketing, from the way you focus on demand generation to how you present yourself on social media, to your digital sales tools and online employer brand, are not top notch, you’ll feel it sooner than you realize. (If you aren’t feeling it already.)
Here are three challenges we’re all facing right now, as well as the reasons why marketing needs to be a major driver in your business to combat these issues.
1. Employee Shortages
The Great Resignation. We’ve all heard of it, and I’d venture to say that we are all dealing with it to varying degrees, whether it’s open positions going unfilled or losing key team members. Staffing is a core issue that all businesses will face in 2022. If your growth plans for 2022 require people, you may not be able to fill the seats you need. It might be time for Plan B.
Agencies can help carry the load
We’ve had to do more with less, whether it’s content creation or strategy and planning. An agency like Brandpoint has both the expertise and capacity to help carry the workload in the areas you need an extra hand. Consider reaching out to an agency to fill the gap in execution.
Another thing that a marketing agency can help with is working toward long-term marketing goals. In moments of crisis, it’s easy to want to react to “what’s on fire.” The problem is short-term thinking in marketing will always have you playing catchup and keep you in the business of constant fire drills to achieve your objectives. Strong companies create balance between short-term objectives and long-term vision and strategy. The right agency partner can help to ensure that you’re achieving in the near term, and focusing on long-term objectives like branding, content, SEO strategy, employer brand and more.
Companies must invest in their Employer Branding
What does your company stand for? Why would someone want to join your team? What’s it like to work in a specific role? How can I grow in your company? How are you making your community a better place? When everything else is equal, the company with stronger employer branding will have an easier time recruiting and retaining talent than a company that does not invest in their employer brand.
Investing in employer branding is still a relatively new concept for many companies, but in 2022, it’s no longer optional.
For companies looking to hire — either for a handful of specialized positions or larger-scale efforts in mass recruiting — marketing must play a role in boosting your employer branding to improve your results.
Think of your open job positions as you would one of your customer personas and start sketching out a content journey for these audiences. What does their ideal journey to becoming your employee look like? Where are they searching for positions? What matters to them in a workplace? What type of values and traits do you want to showcase so that your brand will be seen as a competitive and appealing place to apply?
For more detail on our philosophy on the connection between HR and marketing’s roles in hiring, take a look at the article I wrote titled “How Your Content Marketing Supports Your Employer Branding.”
Thought leadership should support Corporate Social Responsibility efforts
B2B and B2C businesses alike should focus on creating valuable thought leadership content as another method of boosting your employer brand for recruiting and retention. Having a defined Corporate Social Responsibility program at your company is becoming a must, not a maybe, and communicating your corporate activities and values will help build your reputation online.
Thought leadership can look like formal articles, distributed through media networks, or it can look like videos on social media accounts. Decide what’s right for your company’s voice and pull in thought leaders from around the business, from team members to executives.
[Read More: What is Corporate Social Responsibility?]
2. Supply Chain Issues
This is a huge challenge that we’re seeing pop up in all aspects of life, but I believe that marketers have a unique opportunity to help our companies out during this time. Just as COVID-19 threw a giant wrench into everything, supply chain issues have the potential to majorly affect our way of doing business for a long time to come.
Customer communication and listening
What pain points are your customers feeling? What challenges can your company fix or help? Social media, surveys and email newsletters are all ways to reach out and start actual conversations with your audience to see how you can help solve their unique problems. By getting to the root of these concerns, you’ll better understand your company’s target audience and be able to empathize with them to bring better targeted messaging that truly connects with them during this difficult time.
In addition, using these channels to communicate with your audience and clients is a necessity when it comes to shipping information, timelines and other situations that are out of the norm. Providing clear and honest updates will only improve the customer experience, as well as build trust in your brand.
In the meantime, strengthen your brand
Many companies are having a hard time investing in marketing when there is little or no product on the shelves. That’s not an excuse to kill the marketing engine — you’ll be dead in the water. This is the time to use the consumer/customer information you gathered and put it to good use. Keep your brand strong with communication. Creating awareness, communicating on the concerns of your target audience and positioning your organization outside specific products and services will have a major impact when the supply chain catches up.
3. COVID Changes
From vaccines to Delta to Omicron to cases rising to extended mandates — it’s not a secret that dealing with coronavirus has fundamentally changed our world, and in turn, how we work and run our companies. Here are some marketing-specific changes and tactics that you should think about when planning your marketing strategy in 2022.
[Read More: 7 Content Marketing Trends in 2022 & How to Prepare]
Events will likely at minimum have a hybrid element going forward. In our blog post “2022 Marketing Predictions: What the Experts Are Expecting,” Lainey Escarcega, Marketing Manager of GSMI (who hosts conferences like Social Media Strategies Summit) explains that to stay on track, you have to make sure you’re listening to what your audience wants and feels comfortable with.
“Continued success will require attentive listening to customer feedback and actionable response. The customer will be the center of every decision.” – Lainey Escarcega
As marketers, there are many things you can do to make sure that any event strategy is fully fleshed out by ensuring that you have the right content to support a digital experience, including focusing on an aligned sales/marketing message on all of your digital channels, and creating video content to explain your products and services.
Lead generation leads to lead nurture
One of your marketing team’s main goals should be getting the right people in front of your sales team — and once you have that list of leads, it’s up to sales and marketing to work together to warm them up. There have been a few constants during the age of coronavirus, including budget restrictions and an increase of online-only communication. Use your email lists to your advantage by segmenting and personalizing as much as possible so you can speak directly to these leads’ needs.
User experience at an all-time importance
Your digital team, your client-facing team and your product team all need to work with marketing to create a seamless focus from start to finish for your clients. Set up meetings within your company to brainstorm ways to innovate your products or your activities to better suit your customer’s changing needs. Do you need to tweak your messaging on a product page? Has your sales team received feedback on how a service could be improved? Now’s the time to have these conversations.
Marketing can and will help your company succeed in 2022
As you can see, we have a hefty handful of speedbumps ahead of us. However, marketing is the key to not just surviving in 2022 but thriving. Imagine growing your business in the face of all this adversity. It’s more than possible, but to get there, it’s time to level up your digital marketing game.
Written by Scott Severson with MaDonna Sheehy