The Marketing Strategist:
Five Ways to Engage Executives Virtually (Without Resorting to Carrier Pigeon)
I couldn’t help feeling a bit disappointed on the morning of March 18th when I woke and realized that my book launch party for Executive Engagement Strategies, due to happen in London that evening, had been canceled. When you’ve spent a good few months writing a book—on top of your day job and responsibilities at home—it’s fun to celebrate with friends and family when the book is published. But, with everyone’s health in mind, we did the right thing in canceling.
And we’re not the only ones postponing or canceling events in the wake of the pandemic. Companies are canceling everything from individual meetings to large-scale events, both private and public, as they urge everyone who can to work from home and reduce their risk of catching COVID-19.
I’ve seen some great communications from companies who genuinely care about their staff and clients, and who are putting people above profit as they ask what they can do to help. This long-term view of mutual support is encouraging; perhaps the business equivalent of asking your elderly or vulnerable neighbors if there’s anything they need.
As we all adjust to a more virtual world, what impact will this have on how you engage with your most important clients? What does a virtual executive engagement strategy look like? Here are my top five tips for engaging from an individual basis, through small group activities to networks of peers.
- Pick up the phone. Call your clients and check in with them. Ask how their business is coping and if there’s anything you can do to help. Don’t use it as an opportunity to sell, but to help and follow up quickly on anything they need.
- Turn private meetings and briefings into video calls. There’s a raft of platforms out there that allow you to hold meetings online from your own computer, complete with webcams so that you can see each other while viewing a document or presentation. Keeping your camera on helps you stay present in the call, rather than using the time to multi-task, so make sure you’re all camera enabled and image ready!
- Run advisory councils and innovation workshops online. Use a platform that allows for collaborative working, such as where teams can separate off and work on a specific issue before coming back together to share their thinking with the main group.
- Run seminars and conferences as a series of webinars. The sessions that would have made up your conference can be run as a series of interactive webinars for the delegates who were planning to attend. Offering a web-based, modular event means that delegates can attend the sessions most relevant to them, and recording each one means they can decide to attend live – and hence get to interact and ask questions – or listen to the recording in their own time. Or both! You may even find you get additional delegates who couldn’t travel to your planned event.
- Connect with peer groups on social media. As well as setting up your own groups, you can join others representing a network of executive peers that you want to engage. Share your thought leadership, points of view, and tools or examples that they’ll find valuable. And don’t forget to ask questions and use polls to create new thinking together.
On that final point, I was planning to ask guests at my launch party to share their own stories of how they’ve successfully engaged their most important clients. Instead, I’d like to ask you. What are you doing to engage executives virtually, and what’s working best for you?