Ever since the devastating COVID-19 pandemic sent the world spiraling into uncertainty and drove the closure of countless offices, companies of all shapes and sizes have had no choice but to have their employees work from afar. Working remotely certainly makes some things easier (cutting out the daily commute, lowering operational costs, etc.), but it also makes many things harder — and if you still haven’t figured everything out after a year, you’re not alone. You need to keep your marketing strategy on track while working remotely.
Something that can easily suffer from the distance is company culture and identity. In addition to making it harder for professionals to enjoy their work and stay motivated, this makes it tricky to approach marketing with any confidence. And that’s before you factor in the practical complexity of running a marketing operation outside the confines of a classic office.
Just think about why the oh-so-familiar agency model has always revolved around gathering workers together to form tight-knit teams. Whiteboard ideation and draft discussions… These things are the cornerstones of promotional campaigns. So how can you keep your marketing strategy on track when the very foundation of your work has changed? Here are some tips.
Schedule Regular Video Calls To Bolster Communication
Though instant-messaging applications (along with emails, of course) allow colleagues to discuss vital matters regardless of where they’re based, so much is lost through the absence of real-world closeness. Body language matters more than many assume. Being around people you trust and respect can push you to be more engaged and lift your creative energies — yet it simply isn’t practical to meet up in person at the moment.
This is why so many companies have turned to video calls. Being able to see and hear someone while you discuss tactics doesn’t fully make up for the lack of physical presence (body language doesn’t fully come through a pixelated video feed, for instance), but it does make things significantly better. Concepts, objections, and suggestions can be articulated much more quickly: a five-minute call can get more done than a text chain spanning several hours.
Put some thought into the VoIP software you use, though, because each tool has distinct strengths and weaknesses. Zoom is solid for what it is, providing a robust platform that supports a lot of users and makes things fairly easy, but then there’s a tool like Topia that does something different by bringing people together in a game-style overworld that toggles specific video feeds based on simulated physical proximity. In other words, you can only hear someone if your avatar is close to theirs. This can reintroduce some immersion and make it much easier to hold productive company-wide meetings (they can simply segment dynamically when useful).
Develop A Comprehensive Set Of Brand Guidelines
Consistent branding is mission-critical for marketing. All the material you create needs to feature common elements that uniquely identify your company. The biggest reason why this gets tougher at a distance is that communication drops off and there are fewer instances of quick draft reviews. In an office, a supervisor can breeze past, glimpse at work in progress, and prompt some minor tweaks, all without significantly adjusting their day.
Because that’s so much harder when working remotely (and because this new paradigm makes it more likely for companies to outsource marketing tasks), it’s necessary to have a set of brand guidelines (otherwise known as a style guide) that anyone can follow to ensure that the materials they produce are suitable. At a minimum, your guidelines should feature logo variations, fonts, colors, and slogans/taglines. If you can, expand on those things with elements like tone of voice and corporate values.
Ensure That Tasks Are Properly Assigned And Managed
Some people talk about goals being SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. That’s what you should be going for with your marketing tactics. Long before we started working remotely, there were many companies that fundamentally misunderstood the nature of marketing. They viewed it as a vague discipline to be occasionally tossed some money. It might as well have involved blood sacrifices and ancient rituals for all they knew or cared.
You’d see a business ring-fence some money for marketing, have someone with other responsibilities find ways to spend that money, then never even bother scrutinizing the results. Marketing doesn’t concern arcane forces. It’s a rigorous field that uses steady analysis and iteration in an effort to produce meaningful results and must be treated as such.
The problem is that remote working makes it easier for things to fall by the wayside. Key tasks can be overlooked or mishandled. A social media campaign that would have been held together through the efforts of a central campaign manager can fall apart with the team members separated — but this doesn’t need to happen. The key is using proper task management. Instead of an employee being given a vague instruction through a Slack message, they should receive a task assignment through a system like Asana, complete with a deadline, potential blockers, a priority rating, any relevant resources, and the core goal being pursued.
Commit To Producing Content With Personality
In addition to keeping employees apart, this situation disconnects entire companies from the world around them. Having an office provides a sense of locational consequence: it means you’re part of a regional community and can be relied upon in some basic sense. But when that office goes away, your business is a disembodied entity floating in the online ether. This means you need to build new connections and relationships to anchor you.
PR outreach is great for this, naturally. Whether you’re reaching out via social media or a simple email, you can cultivate fruitful associations with other brands that have relevant audiences — but it’s tough to get ahead when so many of your competitors are doing the same thing. What you need is outreach content that can get you noticed.
There are two big options for this content. It can be unusually useful, offering incredible insight and undeniable value. Big brands are great at producing content like this. They can afford to create peerless assets that websites will clamor to post. But maybe you don’t have the resources for that, in which case you can take the second option: showing personality.
By creating marketing content that stands out through personality (more informal than what’s normal, for instance, or more honest about the behind-the-scenes aspects of your business), you can drum up cost-effective support. With so many companies now stripped of their localized advantages, it’s a race to see who can capture the most attention. This is the way to go.