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Don't scrap - adapt!

In light of the current situation, many companies are placing their marketing plans on hold, but now isn’t the time to stop, it’s the time to adapt. Taking smart steps now can help to build your business and give you the competitive edge.

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt by businesses of all shapes and sizes, all over the world. As a result, many marketeers are facing reduced budgets, furloughed teams and uncertainty as to how best to talk to their customers at this very difficult time.

So, how can you reach out to your audiences and make sure they remember you, once this is all over?

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Send the right message

Many businesses are facing declining sales, and so are keen to attract new leads or customers, whilst at the same time understandably not wishing to appear as if they’re trying to profit from a crisis.

A recent report by GlobalWebIndex found that only 37% of consumers want brands to continue to advertise as normal. So, instead of the usual sales-driven marketing, consider what it is that your business can do to support your customers, and your communities. One business doing just this is Brewdog, who whilst facing a whopping 70% drop in their income, have come out to support the NHS and others in need, by producing free hand sanitiser. They’ve also opened up virtual bars so their customers can still get together to share a beer, while staying safe and observing social distancing rules.

Start by analysing your current marketing and messaging and reflect how it’ll be seen in the context of the current crisis. Consider every email, call, website update and social media post – is it relevant and in good taste? Do you come across as human and supportive, or could you be seen as being pushy and like you don’t care? If you use a service like Hootsuite to manage your social media, remember to check your scheduled posts, too. Something written a week ago may have been appropriate then, but if released this week could cause a serious PR issue.

Avoid ‘noise’

We’re currently being bombarded with information, and as a result many people are feeling overwhelmed and overloaded. Therefore, make sure that you’re only sending out relevant, supportive and important communications. If you’re giving out information, make sure it’s easy for people to access and understand, and that it’s accurate. Try using infographics, video and imagery to make your message easier for people to digest. If you want your target audience to respond, then include a strong, clear call to action, so they know what it is they need to do. 

Think local

GlobalWebIndex reported that consumers felt that local businesses were doing more than large companies to help them through the current situation. This means that now is the perfect time for SMEs to step up and sweep in to take market share from the big boys. Look at ways you can reach out and help local businesses, the local community and those around you.

Customers are likely to build strong bonds with brands and companies that have been there and supported them through the crisis. And they’re likely to remain loyal afterwards. So, it’s really important that you stay true to your brand values and deliver on your promises now, or your customers won’t trust you in the future. Be there for your customers and focus on the common goal of getting through this, together.

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Reaching your customers

Be personal. Reach out to your existing customers and see if there’s anything you can do to help them at the moment. Show you’re still there for them. If you’re not able to offer your usual products, service or level of support at the moment, then tell them, and tell them what you’re doing instead. They are likely to appreciate your honesty.

Go digital. Since the lockdown, we’re consuming more online data than ever before. BT reported a 35-60% increase in daytime traffic on their network, peaking at 7.5Tb/s, but actually saw a 5% decrease in mobile data, as people switched to using their home Wi-Fi.

Make the most of social media. At a time when we’re separated from our friends and family, many of us are turning to social media as a way of keeping connected. As a result, we’re really seeing the incredible reach and power of these online platforms. Just look at Captain Tom Moore, the 99-year old, whose pledge to walk 100 lengths of his garden to raise money for the NHS went viral, and inspired the nation, culminating in a staggering £26m in donations. 

Can you adapt your existing media?

If you’ve got pre-booked media then rather than rush to cancel it, consider if there’s a way you can get creative, change your message and use it as an opportunity to reach out to your audience.

For example, when faced with the realisation that no one was going to see their upcoming outdoor campaign, Emily Snacks’ marketing team didn’t cancel and ask for their money back, but instead quickly changed tact and found a way to embrace the situation to make it work for them, with this brilliant, light-hearted and very honest advert. Emily Snacks then shared images of their outdoor campaign on their social media channels. And it’s worked for them. Thanks to the posts being re-shared and picked up by media outlets, this has built vital awareness of their brand in a way that would have cost them hundreds of thousands of pounds to achieve normally.

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How’s COVID-19 affecting your business?

Businesses are likely to fall into one of two main categories – growth, or decline. If you provide essential goods or services, then it’s likely that you’re experiencing huge demand and growth. Whereas if your goods or services are non-essential then you’re probably facing declining sales and enquiries.

If business is currently booming for you, then keep on marketing yourself. Avoid offering discounts but also try not to inflate your prices. Consumers are becoming more of aware of – and critical of – price gouging, and it’s not a good way to win friends. It’s still important to think long term and make sure you’re sending the right impression now.

If, however, your business is struggling then look at ways you can connect and support your existing customers. If you’re there for them now, they’re likely to come back to you in the future. Also think about how you could adapt to reach out to new audiences – could you use your skills and products for a different purpose, or a new target market? Or could you offer advice, education or webinars to help you make new connections? This will help you build up your contacts and your pipeline, so you’re more prepared for when we start getting back to normal. Now is also the perfect time to focus on your content and improving your SEO, so that you’re more visible online when people are back in the market for your goods and services.

What happens next?

It’s predicted that the COVID-19 crisis will lead to permanent changes in our behaviours; with more time spent exercising, using streaming services and importantly more time online and using social media. So, it’s time to get everything setup and ready, so you can hit the ground running when we emerge out of the other side of the crisis. 

Here are our top tips for how you can get your business and marketing ready:

  • Make sure your online presence is strong – update your website and social media.
  • If you historically sell your products through a bricks and mortar shop, consider an e-commerce website to sell through and increase your reach.
  • Consider advertising on social media channels such as Facebook.
  • Content, content and more content - prepare articles, share your stories, send out press releases and add case studies to your website.
  • SEO – get your website optimised to make sure customers can find you online.
  • Look at ways you can reach out and connect with your target audience now – to support, rather than sell.
  • Reward loyalty – thank your new and existing customers who’ve stuck by you through this, maybe with special offers or a personal thank you message.
  • Remember: Be relevant. Be Supportive. Stand out. And get ready.  

No one truly knows yet what the full impact of the Coronavirus pandemic is going to be on business or the economy. But it’s likely that when the lockdown ends and businesses start getting back to ‘normal’, marketeers are going to come out shouting in an attempt to draw in customers and boost sales. We can therefore expect there to be a lot of ‘noise’ later in the year, as businesses battle for attention. This is why we recommend the best approach is to keep marketing now and get ahead of your competitors. 

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