People are spending more time online than ever before. And with the COVID19 pandemic still among us, more and more businesses and agencies are shifting in droves to long-term remote work options for their employees.
In fact, according to a report published by The Atlantic, “Google announced in July 2020 that its roughly 200,000 employees will continue to work from home until at least next summer. Mark Zuckerberg has said he expects half of Facebook’s workforce to be remote within the decade. Twitter has told staff they can stay home permanently.”
A lot is changing — and fast. Some companies were already prepared for the shift whereas others continue to face the daily challenges of remote work. Companies are struggling to make the shift. From decreased productivity and achieving a healthy work-life balance to dealing with distractions and fighting Zoom fatigue and burnout, all of these factors impact how a marketer needs to approach content creation and distribution efforts.
At one time, “modern marketing” meant that the marketer was measuring and targeting appropriately, but it has gone far beyond that now to also understand consumers’ levels of online engagement.
In this article, we will dive deeper into how remote work has changed the lives of both consumers and modern marketers, and offer some tips on how to best address these changes that allow for you to better approach and manage your work, and also reach the consumer in the “new normal.”
The shift to remote work
Of course, there are a number of benefits of remote work. One of the primary benefits is that remote work is saving companies money. In fact, many companies report that they plan to keep employees and staff members remote even after the pandemic is finally over. The truth is that remote work is a win-win for both employees and agencies.
The benefits of remote work for companies and employees
The win-win for employees and agencies goes deep, with a wide variety of benefits for remote working scenarios.
Below is a sample of some of the high-level benefits enjoyed by the firm and employees due to remote work:
- Flexibility in working schedule (employees) and ability to scale (employers)
- Increased talent base for recruiting
- Cost reduction in office overhead and wages
- Reduced carbon footprint
- Better employee satisfaction
Allowing employees to work from anywhere without being limited to their physical geographic areas not only allows them more flexibility but also opens the door up for companies to reach a broader talent base, including regions with lower costs of living. As a result, companies have seen an average cost reduction in wages between 21 and 60 percent.
The challenges of remote work for marketers and creatives
On the other hand, remote work has sparked a number of challenges for marketers and agency team members as well as customers and consumers. Many consumers are now forced to work in a singular household alongside a partner or spouse who also works remotely, and children participating in online classrooms in the same or next room.
Therefore, the distractions are plenty, and they impact a marketer’s job — whose role often involves creative thinking and problem solving, and “deep work” activities that require long periods of time without distractions. The shift to remote work has certainly sparked these challenges, and marketers must now approach their work differently.
The shift in customers’ buying habits
Additionally, consumer buying patterns and behaviors have changed. For marketers in the e-commerce space, you likely saw a gigantic uptick in sales throughout 2020. Out of frustration with wearing masks, long lines, and empty shelves, it almost goes without saying that the majority of consumers have shifted their buying habits to e-commerce.
According to an article published by J.P. Morgan, consumers in the United States spent upwards of $211.5 billion on e-commerce during the second quarter of 2020. As of November 2020, e-commerce now accounts for nearly 16 percent of all sales in the United States, which is approximately an 11 percent increase since the first quarter of 2020.
Like remote work, reports have shown that many consumers will continue to shop and buy online long after the pandemic is over even as brick-and-mortar retailers and locations reopen.
For marketers who work within the e-commerce space, these opportunities represent a gold mine. However, for those who work in industries that were forced online, such as health and fitness, legal, and entertainment, to name a few, thinking out of the box to develop an online service model is an absolute must to survive the pandemic, and beyond.
3 tips for adjusting to the “new normal” of remote work
Although many workers have claimed that they feel less productive while working from home, others claim that their productivity levels have actually increased as remote work has saved them commuting time, an overabundance of in-person meetings, and the typical office distractions.
Regardless of which side of the coin you work on, how can marketers and other creative professionals and workers make remote work and teamlancing effective for them? Here are some tips for adjusting to the “new normal” of remote work:
1. Remote work is a mindset
The first thing to remember is that remote work isn’t a “place” or even a physical space; it’s a mindset. This means thinking differently about how you approach your work. For many new remote workers, this has presented a challenge, particularly for those who were very good at establishing boundaries between their work and home lives. Now that today’s circumstances have forced the two to blend, it has been challenging to shift work-life boundaries. As a result, work-life balance has shifted to more of a work-life integration.
The best way to approach remote work is to set up a designated work area (preferably one with a door to shut out distractions, if possible), schedule set work hours, and structure your day just as you would while working in a traditional office setting. You may also need to communicate your “work hours” with family members, room or housemates, or friends, asking them not to bother you during those hours (within reason, of course).
2. Schedule “deep work” sessions
As marketers, a great deal of our work stems from creativity. And amidst a wealth of distractions — what’s going on in the world, social media, or right in our own homes — it is seemingly more difficult than ever to focus. However, work and life must go on, and we still have to get things done.
One of the best ways to do this is to schedule “deep work” sessions — periods of work without interruptions — email, Slack messages, Facebook notifications, Zoom meetings, or phone calls. You may need to go as far as to schedule these deep work sessions on your calendar. This will not only give you a schedule to follow, but it will also be visible to clients and coworkers that this time slot is “off-limits.”
Doing this might spark a little anxiety, especially since marketers’ roles involve substantial collaboration with other team members and stakeholders. By communicating when your scheduled “deep work” sessions occur, and why you need them, you might be surprised to discover that most of your co-workers and clients will respect you and won’t be bothered that they can’t reach you during those times. You will also feel more motivated and fulfilled to have blocks of time “offline” to focus on what you need to, which in turn refills your creativity cup.
3. Keep the collaborative culture
On the flip side, many companies and marketers worry about what a remote work culture would look like, especially for those who relied heavily on in-office interactions, in-person whiteboard sessions for brainstorming ideas and solutions for marketing activities and initiatives and strategies. The good news is marketers and teams don’t have to lose that collaborative culture by working remotely; it just needs to shift.
Those same tools that you used in the office can be brought to an online environment. For example, there are more video conferencing or live chat tools available than ever before.
Some popular tools include the following:
- Google Meet
- Microsoft Teams
- Blue Jeans
These tools allow for screen sharing, live chatting, and video conferencing, among many other features that enhance digital working sessions. There are also are a number of digital whiteboard tools, such as Mindmeister, LucidChart, and even Whiteboards for Jira.
All in all, with the right tools — and the right habits — you can maintain that collaborative atmosphere and culture and shift it online.
3 ways marketers can approach customers in the “new normal”
Now that you have some tips and ideas on how to better manage remote work as a marketer or creative, now it’s time to answer the million-dollar question: How do marketers approach customers in the “new normal”?
As we mentioned briefly above, consumers’ buying behaviors and patterns have changed substantially for the foreseeable future, or permanently. So, sitting around and waiting for the pandemic to end and for things to go back to normal isn’t going to cut it. Marketers need to act.
Here are some ways to approach customers and effectively meet their needs today:
1. Revisit your marketing strategy
The first step is to take the time to revisit your marketing strategy. You likely developed it sometime in 2019, when things were completely different. For example, if your strategy involved promoting or leveraging networking events, trade shows, or any other in-person events, you likely converted those to virtual events instead or canceled them altogether without another solution.
Similarly, look at each of your ideal customer persona profiles or avatars, and note what has changed. For example, many consumers today are stressed about work-life balance and shifting work schedules. This also means that their interests look different.
Take the time to revise each one of your customer profiles, thinking of each one differently. By understanding your customers’ needs, interests, and pain points these days, you will be able to shift the rest of your marketing strategy, messaging, and activities accordingly, and come up with a new marketing plan.
2. Adjust your communication messaging
As noted above, the second thing to do is to adjust your communication and messaging. Reread your email sends, social posts, blog posts, and even your website content. How would you change that content and communication to reflect customers’ current needs and interests today?
Furthermore, as the pandemic continues, there are certain phrases, words, and statements that have become overused. When drafting social media posts, blog posts, and email newsletters, avoid using the following phrases and messaging: “In challenging times…,” “unprecedented times,” “trying times,” “the current climate,” or “now more than ever.” We are all tired of hearing or reading these— and just bad news in general.
Therefore, putting a positive spin on your messaging, and showing your willingness to encourage customers and give back is bound to help you and your brand stand out. Adopting a “digital empathy” mindset is a key element to content marketing success today.
3. Adopt account-based marketing (ABM)
Because many large, in-person events were canceled, put on hold, or moved online in 2020, many brands and businesses were forced to rethink their marketing plans and strategies altogether. In fact, many B2B companies turned to account-based marketing as a solution.
Account-based marketing is just what it sounds like: marketing to accounts rather than to an individual. If your business or agency is in the B2B space, you might read this and think, “we are already doing that,” however, the truth is that even if you are already taking an account-based marketing approach, there is likely room for sales and marketing to be more aligned, improve targeting, and pinpoint key metrics for success.
ABM needs to be defined for every company and every project. It’s important to differentiate broader marketing campaign and sales efforts, and pinpoint where ABM sits in the existing framework. This involves really honing in on closing the gap between what marketing considers MQLs and what sales considers SQLs.
The truth is, not every company is set up for it! So be sure to do your due diligence before slapping a target list, email blasting accounts at random, and sending gifts to execs. But the good news is that for companies and brands that already follow the inbound marketing methodology, ABM complements these efforts. Inbound marketing and ABM work together: Inbound is the who and ABM is the how. At the end of the day, the goal of ABM is efficiency and scalability.
3 mistakes to avoid in modern marketing
In summary, modern marketing has changed in every sense of the word. It has changed how marketers work as creative professionals, and also how they target and communicate with prospects and customers. Now that you have a better understanding of how to adjust your work habits and mindset with modern marketing, here is what to avoid:
1. Don’t send the same old email marketing
Before you schedule your next weekly newsletter for delivery, give it a good, hard read-through. Does the same message still apply? Is the messaging still effective? Does it still provide readers with value? One tip is to read it as a recipient. If you received your newsletter in your inbox and read it, how would it make you feel? With your answers in mind, think of how you can switch it up to leverage new marketing techniques in 2021.
2. Avoid opinions and politics
Some brands and businesses have made the opposite mistake of adjusting their communication or sending out material that could be considered highly opinionated or overly-political in an effort to send out timely, newsworthy material for higher engagement. Opinions and political statements belong in the White House — not in your marketing communications.
3. Avoid over-promotion and sales
If your company is struggling with generating sales or leads, you might feel under pressure from executives and leaders to push more marketing with the hopes of boosting sales. However, this can have the opposite effect. Customers and prospects are sick of bad news, and they see right through schemes, gimmicky campaigns, and big batch email blasts. Follow this one rule: Only send content or communications that are truly valuable to your audiences. This might mean reducing the amount of content you send, but it will resonate well with your audience — guaranteed. Finally, the best way to adjust to modern marketing is to put yourself in your buyers’ or customers’ shoes and rethink your marketing strategy.Remember, as remote work, social, and economic situations change, you need to adjust your #marketing strategies accordingly. Click To Tweet