‘Put a hold on marketing’. Words we often hear when budgets get tighter due to recession or a change in circumstances. Right now, it’s certainly a consideration for many business owners who are still open or going into ‘hibernation’ mode for marketing during COVID-19. Our advice is…be careful.
Sure, reducing spend across the board may be essential to tighten the belt for a while and in some industries that makes complete sense right now. But to stop completely? What’s going to happen when the dust settles and you haven’t tended to your business?
In some ways, right now might actually be the best time to invest in promoting your business. For some with surplus cash, you could make significant long-term gains by increasing spend now to widen the gap between you and your competitors.
For many industries, customers may have gone into hibernation or are going online more, so sales may have dropped significantly or even stopped altogether. For others, however, things may not be that bad. In fact, things may be better than this time last year by gaining a new market segment through a sudden demand in a product or service that’s now even more relevant. Alternatively, compulsory diversification may have led to new opportunities. Which one are you?
The one thing these scenarios have in common is that your business can’t always rely on promoting itself. Whether you have slowed down or things are looking great, marketing communication can ensure you’re kept top of mind with your audience.
I heard a great question on a podcast last week: Are people going to care if your brand disappears from the shelf? Interesting thought. Do you think you’re doing enough to make sure you’re not going to disappear out of peoples’ minds? Even if you are trying to maintain minimal spend for marketing during COVID-19, you can still stay in the game… and be relevant.
Now more than ever, the secret is to provide real value to your customers. And I don’t mean discounts, rather what can you do that serves them better? After all, if they’re not going to shop with you, they can easily go elsewhere..
People are looking for more support, more connections and more meaningful value. Harsh as it sounds, brands that don’t provide it really need to reconsider what their purpose is.
10 things you can do right now
If you’ve been considering what you should be doing when it comes to your marketing communication, here are some things you can start doing today.
1. Check out the competition
If you haven’t been keeping an eye on your competition, now is the time before it’s too late. What are they doing that’s different to you? What can you learn from it and how can you apply that insight to your own business?
2. Nail what it is that makes you different
Is it your culture, your shopping experience, your staff or your amazing product or service that is like no other? Are you leveraging it and can anyone else claim to do the same? You need to find an angle that creates that point of difference today. If you don’t have one, create one.
3. Keep the conversation going
Whether it’s still business as usual or you’re in unchartered territory, don’t stop talking to your audience. Use your social media more than ever to connect with them. Plan some topics that are helpful, useful, entertaining, educational… whatever fits your brand personality and offering. But don’t try and be anything other than genuine in your marketing during COVID-19.
4. Make it easy for your customers
Whether you’re online or still purely bricks and mortar, try and make it as easy as possible for your customers to know what to do, how to buy from you or simply speak to someone.
5. Provide a killer customer experience
Right now, you may be focusing a lot of your energy on communicating with your customers online. But make sure you’re still delivering the best possible brand experience across all your channels. Check that, through the eyes of your customers, it’s an effortless process to enquire, shop and connect with you.
6. Diversify or bite the dust
Now is the time to get really creative if your core proposition is showing signs of decline. If you don’t, you may not make it. Think of products and services you can offer to enhance your core capabilities, some of which may be really innovative or out of the box. Alternatively look into cooperative initiatives with other businesses and collaborate – online or offline.
7. Keep it simple
Whether it’s your message, offer or experience, keep it simple. The faster people get what you’re about and how your product or service can benefit them, the better. What can you do to simplify your current marketing during COVID-19?
8. Communicate with your team
Whether your business has 5 or 500 people, don’t forget your team’s role in helping during the current challenges. The clearer your strategy and message is with them – the easier it will be for them to communicate it to your customers. As we’ve said many times at The Marketing Clan, your team lives and breathes your brand and business – keep them involved, engaged and positive through engaging internal communications.
9. Properly plan your marketing initiatives (even if they are short-term)
There’s often a temptation to promote as quickly as possible, but it’s important to be considered in your communication planning. Set your objectives, even if they are short-term. Identify what’s going to give you the best return on investment. If budget it tight, make sure you’re spending wisely… test and measure. Then focus on the initiatives giving you the best return.
10. Improve your presence online
If you have some downtime right now, use it review your digital assets – such as your website and social media channels – through your customer lens. Are they working optimally? Are they all connected? Can people easily find you? Is the content up to date and are you keeping it fresh so people come back? Ensure visitors can get what they’re after in a couple of clicks. Do you need to implement lead generation strategies?
If you can’t do it all, that’s okay, but don’t be the brand that disappears and nobody notices. On the contrary, if you plan wisely and really provide value to your customers through smarter marketing during COVID-19, you could be building greater long-term value and brand salience with your audience. If you’d like a conversation about any of this, we’re happy to meet over a coffee (at a distance of course).