By Peter Jakel
I was recently asked by Jennifer Castenson, director of thought leadership content for Hanley Wood and Multifamily Executive, for some tips on how supplier partners can continue to market during COVID-19 for a piece she was writing for Forbes Real Estate.
She was able to use one of the tips I offered, which was to not sell aggressively to owner/operators right now. Operators have too much on their plates as it is due to the pandemic and they need time to catch their breath. Unless your product or service can have an immediate impact on the challenges they’re facing, it’s best to dial back your sales efforts and move to a thought leadership strategy.
Here are three additional tips that are a little broader in perspective that I think would be helpful to supplier partner organizations during the pandemic:
- Develop and start trials on new products and services that will work in the current climate. Don’t try to sell what you currently have to offer if it won’t work in the Covid-19 environment to operators who are trying to adjust for the possibility that some residents won’t pay rent.
They aren’t in a position to buy anything unless it’s going to help them capture or maintain revenue. Adjust your products and services to fit into the current climate and offer trial rates or free trial periods with a guarantee to start payment after the crisis is over. An example of this is technology providers who are
pivoting to offer virtual and remote tour options for prospects.
- Offer helpful tips based on the expertise your company provides. Rather than trying to directly sell your product or service, roll up your sleeves and offer much needed advice on how to best address the current crisis based on your expertise. For example, if you’re a technology provider, you can offer tips on how to implement new technology faster to address needs created by that crisis.
This will go a lot further toward getting your products and services recognized right now than sending dozens of emails that try to sell those products services. The exception is if you have a product or service that can solve a problem that they have right now or if you created a new product or service for that reason.
- Extend free or heavily discounted services for a limited time that could help manage the crisis. Not all supplier partners can do this because they might focus on one service or product. But for those who have multiple services and products, they might be in position to offer one of them as a trial for a short period of time.
The key is for that product to be helpful to operators trying to navigate the impact of the pandemic. Communication tools are a great example of technology-based products that can be offered for free if you offer a full-stack of other services.
These are unprecedented times so it’s difficult to navigate the complexities of marketing your products and services when the entire world is distracted and for good reason. However, the survival of your business depends on your ability to continue selling products and services. It might just look a bit different than it has in the past. And the key is, as it almost always is today, thought leadership messaging.