Back in March, we entered a strange new reality. Millions of Americans were asked to stay home to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Many lost their jobs, saw their children’s schools close, and worried about going outdoors.
They also started reviewing their financial affairs, legal documents, elective care needs and senior living plans. With in-person events and appointments no longer an option, consumers and companies – including LeadingResponse – had to find new ways to connect.
We shifted gears quickly to survive. In the months since the coronavirus first landed in the U.S., LeadingResponse changed along with the business landscape. Here is what we have learned about marketing in a pandemic.
Webinars Really Work
We’ve now launched hundreds of webinar campaigns across the country. Prior to COVID-19, hosting an online presentation (or anything virtual) was not considered an acceptable way to communicate to prospects.
While people age 50 and up had been using the web or video chats before the pandemic, to connect with family or services, it was never considered a mainstream business marketing tool.
After the pandemic began, however, it became natural to employ the technology to share information with prospects.
Prospects Like Options
As time went on, many Americans adjusted. Millions registered to attend webinars nationwide in search of professional advice or to research various product or service opportunities. Retirement and estate planning and wills and trusts became increasingly relevant webinar topics as COVID-19 death rates rose. So did available senior living options, since prospective residents and their loved ones could no longer tour communities in person.
After a short time marketing in the pandemic, we recommended our clients offer three choices to consumers interested in moving forward with a one-on-one appointment after viewing a webinar. They could request a phone session, book a private online session, or schedule an in-person meeting at the host’s office. By a wide margin, they preferred a phone call.
Savvy webinar hosts understood the law of reciprocity laid out by Dr. Robert Cialdini – if a prospect receives something, they will feel obliged to participate. When presenters offered a restaurant or Amazon gift card to respondents who attended their virtual events, they achieved the best appointment conversion outcomes.
Marketing in a Pandemic: Some Still Want Face Time
Gradually, businesses, including hotels, stores, and restaurants reopened in some regions, with strict safety protocols in place. This cleared the way for professionals who had previously enjoyed success with dinner seminars to resume scheduling them.
Today, dinner seminars in locations that allow them are drawing consumers looking for a little bit of normalcy.
However, due to social distancing rules and limited seating capacity at restaurants, we recommend advisors and elective care professionals schedule two or three dates per campaign, to help improve turnout and keep attendees safe.
Use Combination Campaigns
Here’s a critical lesson we learned about marketing in a pandemic: hybrid campaigns are the wave of the future. The most successful event hosts will employ both direct mail and digital advertising and let prospects choose how to attend. Those who combine live events and webinars get the greatest return on their investments.
You’ll also reach more consumers by catering to the needs of everyone. This means scheduling live events for people who want face-to-face meetings, and creating dynamic virtual events for those who prefer to learn from home.
Unlike live events, webinars have long-term revenue driving potential because they can be set up for viewing and sharing after they’re recorded. These evergreen webinars can generate leads for your business on an ongoing basis.
Be Empathic and Compassionate
To succeed at marketing in a pandemic, you must be flexible. But one thing will never change. As in the pre-COVID days, if you’re not likable, you won’t gain a prospective client’s trust.
They are more concerned than ever about their financial investments, legal affairs, living arrangements and health – and highly motivated to act. We’ve all heard the stories of those who have been devastated by this crisis. Since some of your prospects have witnessed this firsthand, be sure to show them empathy and consideration for their circumstances.
Your presentation message must have a sense of urgency and resonate with the audience. Americans are searching for a local go-to person who can calm their fears and address their concerns. They’re seeking peace of mind. To achieve it, they must have a plan that makes themselves and their loved ones feel secure.
Final Thoughts About Marketing in a Pandemic
We have found pandemic marketing to be highly challenging and rewarding. During these unusual times, advisors, attorneys, elective medical practitioners, and senior living professionals continue to have a unique opportunity to make a big difference in their communities.
Get your message out there. By strategically navigating this changed landscape, you’ll position your business to thrive in the new year.
Find out how LeadingResponse’s full-service client acquisition marketing solutions can help your organization emerge in 2021 even stronger than before.