Your company’s marketing during the crisis
“Be kind to one another, think not only of yourself but of those around you.”
This message has been ringing loud and clear from all sources, most notably from our Prime Minister. In these uncertain times, consistent messages are comforting, giving us set of expectations which enable us to rally and support one another.
So, as business owners, how can we provide the same level of support to our customers who likely share the same sorts of anxieties we’re experiencing?
Lessons learned from marketing during the Global Financial Crisis
Research by the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) UK after the GFC showed that businesses who continued to market during challenging economic times were able to pick up more quickly than those that chose to hibernate. The main findings were as follows:
- Cutting budget in a downturn will only help maintain profits in the short term.
- Ultimately the brand will emerge from the downturn weaker and much less profitable.
- It is better to maintain SOV (share of voice) at or above SOM (share of market) during a downturn: the longer-term improvement in profitability is likely to greatly outweigh the short-term reduction.
- If other brands are cutting budgets the longer-term benefit of maintaining SOV at or above SOM will be even greater.*
With the effect of Covid-19, a large number of businesses have been wondering what the best strategy would be right now and how to allocate their scarce resources wisely. Right now is NOT the time to slow your marketing efforts. Now is the time to tweak your marketing plans to gain more value and get out of the crisis and become even stronger. Here are a few things you should be doing to manage your company’s marketing during the crisis:
Keep marketing but adapt your tone
Continue marketing but adapt your messaging and your expectations to suit the times. Now more than anything, being “helpful” will be one of the best ways your business can support customers and build prospective customer lists for later, when customers are ready and able to move to the next stage in their relationship with you. Content creation that is empathetic and helpful is far more important than customer acquisition campaigns.
The last thing you want is to sound heartless, snobbish and money-driven. Do not use heavy sales techniques in order not to be criticised by your audience. Act with empathy, sincerity and spread some positive thinking.
Adapt the marketing channels you use to fit the current situation
With many of us in lockdown locally and overseas, we are searching for reliable information that will help us deal with a new Covid 19 environment. People are watching more videos, podcasts, taking up online educational courses to up-skill and reading content that directly answers their questions. Face to face has been replaced by facetime and live video streams for anything from professional services to exercise classes. Think about what you need to change to still be accessible to customers.
Use the right visuals
Think of all those people in isolation right now, and please do not use images of crowded places, people partying or at large gatherings. It just looks odd. We all know that our life will get back to normal, so inspire your audience instead. Mirroring the reality is great, and I love unique content, but do it in a bright and light way.
Expand your audience
Think of your audience as being connected right now even more than ever. They gather information every minute. You, as a business, can benefit greatly by a huge number of people being available online much more than ever. With the right communication techniques, you have the potential to grow your audience and gain not only followers but brand advocates.
Make sure you can be found
Now, more than ever it’s important for your business to be found through Google Search. Make sure your website is optimised. An SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Audit can identify where there are gaps and how you can rectify them yourself or by using a specialist. Use the time to update your content, load up the projects and case studies which reinforce the value you provide and update your keyword search terms into your page headings, content and meta descriptions. If you provide products or services to companies categorised as an essential service, make sure your content and meta descriptions are optimised so that they can find you, ensure your listings are up to date in online directories and that you link to reference websites they may be using to drive inbound traffic to your website.
Ask your customers what would help them right now?
Doing some informal research with your key customers will help you to keep connected with them and learn how best you can provide value and assistance. By making some subtle changes like making it easier to do business with you, or providing better training or customer support, you can demonstrate your willingness to adapt and serve your customers when they need it most.
Create value through online platforms
If you ever contemplated whether it was worth your business to go online, now is the time to put that in action. Provide valuable advice to your audience, create programs, launch apps, i.e. add more value! We see numerous examples of businesses creating value through providing exercise programs, distance learning, online courses and others.
Look at your offer as it stands today. Is there anything you can add in that would help your customers right now? Can you offer existing customers a free month’s extension on a contract or service you provide to keep them on board? Can you produce content that provides tips on how to get the most out of your product or service? If you provide a professional service, run online seminars about topics that are important to them and their businesses. Sharing your expertise through a seminar can be a great way to provide value, build customer loyalty and grow your list of prospective customers.
Help communities, provide free advice and service, offer free delivery. Help those who are in need the most. A large chain pizza company offered free pizzas to the elderly population. How can you help the locals? Donations for goodie bags for health care workers are being created daily. No, you don’t have to be physically present somewhere right now but you can still help with a huge benefit for your business.
With COVID-19 marching around the planet, in the next few weeks, we are all going to be called to sacrifice something and it won’t be easy. However, you can make it easier for your business and your team to come out on this even stronger. Soon it will all be over, so let’s use the chance to learn and grow, here and now.
Even in unsettling times, small changes can make a difference. Keep calm and connected.