Think Virtual-First, New Sponsors, Fast Following and Editorial Selling

You know how there’s speed dating and speed networking and speed reading and speed friending and speed skating and speed eating and speed walking, etc. I’m turning to speed ideating today. See if any of these ideas from the last couple months triggers something good for you.
Build something new. Maybe we need to put aside the pivot for a while and create an event that’s virtual-first—like we used to say digital-first a few years ago. What works best on Zoom? I like moderated discussions there. Or think of five speakers you never would have thought you could get pre-pandemic. Try calling them now. I just read something that said celebrities are turning up (virtually) in all sorts of unexpected ways these days. This gives us a chance to re-format.
Come up with new sponsorships. Vendors still want to vend. They need new opportunities. What fresh and exciting sponsorships can you come up with? The Washington Nationals have Bathletix hand santizer. Start a podcast. Or a puzzle. Or a quiz.
Talk to your customers. The natural inclination at this time might be to withdraw or think everyone is on vacation, but the opposite might be true. It’s the time for strategic conversations and important questions. Pick up the phone—yes, you do NOT have to Zoom. “How are you?” should be the lead question. “What do you need the most help with?” “What are your pain points?”
Empower staff to have these same conversations and then share. Anecdotal information from the conversations/emails your staff is having with your audience should be shared at your next Zoom meeting. Everyone should be empowered to ask these questions. A short personal email is fine if you don’t want to call and then listening for what comes next from them (after “how are you”).
Follow the money. Asked why he might go into popular verticals rather than more obscure ones, Industry Dive CEO Sean Griffey said, “Crowded spaces means there’s money there. I’d rather go where there’s money today rather than create a market tomorrow. If it’s between being first in something or being a fast follower, I’m not in the first one… At the end of the day, we like verticals that are impacted by technology or regulation so there’s a need to follow the news.”
Try “selling without selling.” Brian Cuthbert, group vice president, Diversified Communications, said that he has an audience that doesn’t like to talk to sales. So an editor will contact them and say, “I’m the editor and my job is for you to get value from the site. Is there content that’s not there that you need?” He calls it selling without selling. “It’s non-intrusive but takes the right type of editorial folks who get that.”
Create content bundles. People have more time now so come up with new courses or e-learning initiatives. Bundle that with a new newsletter or report and special access to something.
Get more social. Despite social media’s effectiveness for driving traffic to organization websites—it’s number one at 90% in a recent survey—only 1 in 5 respondents in that survey feel strongly that their organization’s social media strategy is well defined, and only one-third strongly agree that social media is a high priority for their organization. There’s a definite disconnect there.
Do an honest assessment of your product bucket. Use that to inform future products. A reallocation of resources is something real that has to happen and now is a good time.
Focus on the “gap methodology. The plans that we all put in place 4-6 months ago aren’t the plans today. And who knows what the future will bring. Our key stakeholders are experiencing a level of uncertainty that we’re all experiencing. There’s a place now between the current state (unarguably not great) and the future state. Make the most of the time now.
Get back to your core products. What do you do best? What do you have—in the archives perhaps—that you can tune or adjust to solve your audience’s current challenges? Maybe you once did something on crisis communications or managing remotely or hockey in August.
It’s been a long week.

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