How Marketers Can Turn Challenges of Change into Opportunities

July 23, 2020

Man holding a baby while working from home

The pessimist sees a problem. The optimist sees an opportunity. The realist sees both.

There’s no doubt that the current climate brings many unforeseen challenges to bear for marketers, testing our mettle. But there are also opportunities to apply our skills and prove our value in all new ways. As the conduits between brands and their communities, marketers can play a powerful role.

Our new guide, Thriving Through Change: The Practitioner’s Playbook, highlights several of the challenges stemming from the disruption caused by COVID-19, and how marketers can flip the script to drive positive outcomes.

4 Challenges that Marketers Can Approach as Opportunities

None of these situations are easily navigated, but in each case, a shift in perspective uncovers the upside of getting it right, for both you and your customers. 

CHALLENGE: The conversation has changed and our previous messaging no longer resonates.

Many marketing teams had entire strategies sketched out for this year, and now all this thoughtful planning has fallen by the wayside. In general, messaging devised for the world we knew two months ago no longer fits. At best, adjustments are required and in many cases we’ve got to rebuild our approaches from the ground up.

OPPORTUNITY: Your brand can be helpful to people in powerful new ways. 

People are online and they are seeking out information. On LinkedIn, we’ve seen member engagement on coronavirus in North America rise by 3,600%. Meanwhile, remote working searches on LinkedIn Learning have tripled. These are just two indicators reflecting the appetite for information and guidance pertaining to the disruption taking place.

How do your brand and its values fit into the current landscape? Where can you make a difference for your audience? The Salesforce LinkedIn Page is a good example of a company pivoting to deliver a steady stream of helpful content around the crisis.

CHALLENGE: Audiences are more wary than ever of inauthentic or tone-deaf brand content.

Marketers walk delicate ground right now. People were already growing impatient with irrelevant ads and brand messaging; now the stakes are heightened. Saying the wrong thing can be costly, which is a tough deal because there’s no playbook for this unprecedented environment.

OPPORTUNITY: Accurate, relevant, quality content will build trust now more than ever.

Those who can rise to this challenge will be appreciated. While audiences are becoming more intolerant of content that misses the mark, the flip side is that they’re gravitating more toward useful and credible content, as well as the sources behind it. Make your brand a beacon of truth and reliability at a time where misinformation runs rampant.

As one example, The Johns Hopkins University created a Coronavirus Resource Center and shared it on LinkedIn, to help followers verify rumors and dispel myths:

Strengthening the bonds of trust with your customers and potential customers is an essential focus right now. According to research from Edelman:

  • 84% of people want brands to be reliable news sources, keeping them informed about the virus and the progress being made in the fight against it.
  • 85% of people expect brands to be educators, offering them instructional information about the virus and how to protect themselves from it.
  • 84% of people want brands to use social media channels to facilitate a sense of community and offer social support to people.

CHALLENGE: My team has been thrown into disarray by the chaotic circumstances.

Communication and collaboration were already pain points for many organizations before the pandemic shook things up. In fast-paced, cross-functional settings like a marketing department or agency, this challenge is inherently magnified. And now, with workers forced into full-time WFH duty while acclimating to changes in the business — not to mention all the external distractions stemming from a life-altering global event — managers face all-new hurdles when it comes to guiding smooth teamwork and coordination.

OPPORTUNITY: Refocusing on internal processes and communication now will pay long-term dividends.

 Because many of these underlying issues existed before the current situation, and because certain implications are likely to carry forward (i.e., increased work flexibility, more teleconferencing, less travel), the steps we take to improve communication and collaboration in the present will have a resounding positive impact going forward. Committing to tools and training for virtual meetings, remote project management, and the like is not just reactive, it’s also proactive. We’ve unlocked numerous LinkedIn Learning courses to help navigate these changes.

In addition to the functional aspects, leaders who are there for their teams right now can strengthen employee trust, engagement, and loyalty in profound ways.

CHALLENGE: Ads are driving fewer conversions at a time where purchasing activity is down.

Unless your business is fortunate to be in a vertical that’s in-demand right now, the likely reality is that your customers are spending less. Maybe a whole lot less. As such, there might be a reluctance in some corners to spend on advertising at this moment. 

OPPORTUNITY: The right adjustments to your strategy will put your company in a strong position on the other end. 

I really like this quote from B2B Institute’s Peter Field, shared in a recent guest post at LinkedIn: “Brand advertising is not about profiting in recession, it is about capitalizing on recovery.” For those experiencing a downswing in revenue, the moves we make now are geared toward setting up a strong position as the market rebounds.

On LinkedIn, you can use tools like Content Suggestions, Page Analytics, and LinkedIn Live or LinkedIn Events to find trending topics, measure engagement with your content, and broadcast in real-time to your audience. 

As we put it in the Thriving Through Change guide, advertising limits your downside in bad times, and increases your upside in good times.

Speaking of which, you can grab that guide now and dive into a deeper look at all of these key topics.