Marketing In Uncertain Times
The events of the last few weeks in relation to the coronavirus & Covid-19 crisis have sent shockwaves across businesses around the world. We are living in uncertain times.
Many of us are working out next steps for our businesses - and as a marketing agency we’re taking stock of the sort of activity we’ll be undertaking over the next few weeks and months.
So what should we and you do in relation to marketing your business in a time of heightened concern, anxiety and uncertainty ?
The initial reaction might be: run for the hills.
But in today’s world the businesses that are excelling are those that are constantly evolving, re-inventing themselves and meeting challenges (large and small) in the marketplace head-on.
This is a great opportunity to re-calibrate and fine tune your marketing for what could be a “new normal” for us all - at least in the short to medium term.
With uncertainty there is also opportunity - so we should use this time to fine tune and re-calibrate our marketing activities, learn and grow.
These are the things we think businesses (including our own) should be doing over the next few months.
The people who run businesses are feeling fearful and uncertain.
At this time of heightened anxiety no-one is going to thank you for “hard sell” marketing messages.
In the last few weeks, we’ve seen some horrible examples of self-promotion and businesses using the current crisis in a cynical way to promote their products and services.
We've seen examples of “price gouging” in the eCommerce space. But even at the less extreme end of the spectrum some of posts and messages we’ve seen have been misjudged and distasteful.
Potential customers will not judge you well for this type of activity.
And think about what you are posting on social media.
Just because you CAN post content on social media doesn’t mean you HAVE to - think about the pain your customers are experiencing and ask “Is this marketing message right for now?”
Be sensitive - if there is any doubt in your mind about sending that email or posting that comment then save it to draft. Ask yourself if it’s in the right tone and does it send out the right message about your brand? If it doesn’t then don’t do it.
The inbound methodology is all about being helpful to your prospective customers. This is truer now more than ever.
You should aim to be there as a useful resource for your current and potential future customers.
We’re writing this blog as we’re having to think about our own activity over the next few months - and by documenting our thoughts we hope some of this content will be useful to our own clients and others.
Can you produce relevant and helpful content which will draw people to your business (without the hard sell messages mentioned above)?
- What information do your customers want to know?
- Can you offer them support and reassurance via your content?
- Can you DO anything practical to help?
We’ve seen some great examples of how businesses are pivoting to assist with the crisis. LVMH have announced that they are starting to manufacture alcohol sanitiser in their fragrance factories in France.
Other businesses have followed suit - pivoting quickly to support local, national and international efforts to combat the virus. The halo effect of these type of sincere and helpful gestures by the brands is potentially very powerful.
Just by helping out and letting people know you are prepared to help could have positive effects on your brand - but make sure you do this in a genuine and non-cynical way.
Embrace New Channels & Create Content Aligned New Working Patterns
With the surge towards remote working - there may be new channels that you’ve not used before that you can now embrace in your marketing efforts.
As social distancing measures kick in and we’re all working from home more in the coming weeks your current and potential new customers will be spending more time online - both during the working day and for other activities (such as online shopping).
We’ve got tools like Zoom, Slack and Google’s suite of products built into our DNA at Grow Consultancy but are you using them?
You should also be asking:
- What new formats for content can you produce to align with these behaviours?
- Video marketing is becoming increasingly important across almost every marketing channel. What about producing short form video content for your business’ marketing efforts?
- What about the marketing channel that everyone is talking about - TikTok? Why not try it when you’re at home with the kids?
- What about producing a podcast for your business?
- Webinars are another great way to get your message out and can be delivered and attended remotely. Why not deliver one and use you existing database to promote it?
Fine Tune Your Message
Use the time over the next few months to fine tune your marketing message and figure out what marketing activity is and isn't working for your business.
Ask yourself probing questions about your marketing efforts up to now:
- Do you know your buyer personas? If so, do you need to revise or update them?
- What marketing channels are working and what aren’t?
- What channels do you need to invest more or less time and money into?
As the effects of Covid-19 unfold, marketing budgets are likely to come under scrutiny. Be prepared to answer questions and defend your marketing budget.
But equally, don't be afraid to stop marketing activity that is not producing a return on investment. Your business will thank you for being proactive later.
Get Skilled Up
The world of digital marketing moves very fast which is why it’s such an exciting sector to work in.
To keep up to date it is important to have an open mind and to be learning continuously. Use this opportunity to get your Team to do all of those online training courses that you’ve had on the back burner for months.
Here is a list of our “go to” resources for absorbing information online:
- Hubspot has a range of great certifications that you and your Team can take - they are great and there is enough content available for marketing teams of any size.
- Smart Marketer has got some great eCommerce focussed content
- The Klaviyo Blog - again has some great eCommerce focussed content
- Smart Insights is one of our favourite go-to websites for keeping up to speed on the digital marketing space.
- Trends by The Hustle is a brilliant resource for researching new business models.
- LinkedIn is a fantastic resource for learning from a range of content in a range of formats from your peers.
There are more - but these are the ones we use on a daily and weekly basis.
Get Feedback from Existing Customers
This is a time to support your existing customers and build on those relationships that are already in place.
Do you need to reconfigure plans, campaigns, preparedness for when we get back to business as usual?
Pick up the phone and talk to them - ask them how they’re doing in the midst of this unfolding crisis. Pick up the phone and ask them - can we help?
Also - use this juncture to get feedback from them.
- Ask them what are you doing well?
- Ask them what can you do better?
Can you get case studies, testimonials, run a survey across your exiting database to gather content that you can use in your marketing efforts going forward?
At Grow Consultancy we love the expression “Feedback is the breakfast of champions”. Use this opportunity to gather feedback - and to fine tune and improve your business.
This too shall pass.
As bad as it seems across a range of sectors right now, this crisis will pass - and business’ demand for your products will still exist and will grow when we all get through this.
This is a good time to take stock and be ready for things getting back to normal - which they will.
At Grow Consultancy we’re happy to help out with any marketing questions you might have in relation to any of the areas above.
We’d love to get your thoughts and comments on anything we may have missed?
We’re also offering a FREE 30 minute marketing assessment for any business who wants to book in. Sign up here.