1. Think differently
Now is the time to put that creative, entrepreneurial spirit to work. We may not have all the things we’re used to; an office, colleagues sat next to us... but that doesn’t mean we have to stop doing what we do best. We just need to think differently. It’s back to basics.
— Give people a call and collaborate
— Utilise technology such as video chats
— Try things you would never dream of normally
— Think back to a time when it wasn’t possible to order everything you needed with the click of a button and get creative with what you have
— Get your community involved
Good marketing is the harmony of idea and execution. That doesn’t imply big budgets or never-ending resources. A great idea, when executed well and authentically, will speak for itself.
2. Change your message
Simply ignoring what’s going on and pushing the same sales messages out into the world is not what people need right now. Empathise with your audience and put yourself in their shoes. Be clear. People will be wondering if certain businesses are still in operation so letting your customers know you’re still there is fundamental. Most importantly, listen. Don’t just tell people what you want them to hear, think about what they need to hear.
— Do they need to know that you’re still open for business?
— Should they know that there are delays but you’re doing everything you can?
— Should they know that you’re closing temporarily and you’re going to start a newsletter to keep in touch?
Be mindful of virtue signalling. Feel-good content that aims to lift spirits and promote positive messaging will help your brand but only if done in a real and honest way. Make sure any claims you make around supporting others during these times are material not just for commercial benefit... practice what you preach.
3. Adapt your services
The world is different. Which means brands need to think differently. People’s behaviours, priorities and pain points have changed, brands will need to adapt quickly in order to remain relevant in the eyes of their customers.
Perhaps most importantly, brands will need to learn to listen to what their communities are dealing with. The brands that are able to solve the pain points people are facing will thrive.
We’ve already seen lots of restaurants quickly turn to online delivery systems and gin distilleries transforming into sanitiser production lines (in great style we have to add). Work out what you can do that’s relevant to the current situation and do it – don’t wait.
4. Become a valuable resource
Everyone has been affected by coronavirus in one way or another. Becoming a valuable resource during these times can build brand strength. The important thing to remember is there are a lot of resource platforms already out there, make sure you are only sharing the best of the best around a niche topic that’s relevant to your brand.
Whether that’s legal advice for small businesses or homeschooling techniques for parents, or even telling your audience about the history of your brand and your story – if you’re going to do it do it well.
5. Reconsider your channels
Studies have found that Coronavirus has sparked a huge jump in social media use. All social apps have reported an increase in usage and engagement. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise given that we’re still mostly separated and indoors, we’re looking for ways to stay connected to the outside world at the moment.
What is surprising is the number of brands cutting back and disappearing from their customers’ lives entirely. A move that could hurt them considerably in the future when they have to compete with those who have ‘been there through thick and thin’.
If you want to connect with your audience, social media is the place to do it. If you’re pulling back marketing budgets from events or physical channels, it would be wise to reallocate those budgets to online activity instead – with fewer advertisers in the market it could prove to be a great opportunity to boost brand awareness and help to lessen the impact of the pandemic in the long run.
6. Stay reactive
For any social-first brand this is a given generally, but at the moment it applies to everyone. Each day brings new updates and concerns, brands must appreciate the situation and not keep scheduling content weeks in advance that will be out of date by the time it goes live.
In the same light, be prepared. Although it can feel like your business is on pause, we’ve already seen businesses slowly start to open in retail, whilst other businesses are due to re-open from mid-June. Businesses should be prepared for when this time comes. You can ask:
— Do I know how and where to announce our re-opening when the time comes?
— Do I need to place signage or rules for customers to follow when we can open?
— How can my brand be helpful and encourage custom, without simply announcing ‘we’re open’?
7. Invest in easy wins
The key to success during these times is not to cut all marketing. The key is to get creative and focus on what will drive the best results for relatively low cost. Some examples:
Build a newsletter
Email marketing can transform your business
Refine your social channels
Does your brand have presence here?
Launch a customer referral program
Make yourself newsworthy
Join in on industry discussions
Find ways to help your customers even if it requires a bit of a pivot away from your usual services
Collaborate with other brands
Collaborate with your community
If you find new ways to communicate and express yourself, if done well and with empathy, you will be remembered by your customers.
8. Be a confident brand
It takes strength, there’s no denying that. When things are tough and the situation open ended, feeling ready to give up is not unusual. But is that the determined spirit that got you where you are now? We are at a point where what we do now could determine our success in the future. Action is key.
Are there things we should be doing that we’re not?
Improving our website, improving our branding, evaluating digital marketing success all help to improve a brand.
Are there channels we should be making the most of?
Are there things we should stop doing or scale back?
The key is to sharpen focus and be ruthless about what’s working and what’s not. If things are quiet, use this time to re-evaluate where you are now and where you want to be in the future. Have your goals changed since you started your business? Is the way you’re operating going to ensure you achieve those goals? Whether you get outside help or you do this alone, evaluating your journey and using your learnings to plan for the future is a valuable use of any downtime.
9. Double down on digital
Not only is an online presence a much more vital way to do business during these times, people are also more likely to judge quality based on brand perception online.
Offer an online version of your services if you can
If you can’t, offer your presence and engage your audience in other ways to maintain a strong brand presence.
Make sure your online presence is as good as it possibly can be
How’s your website, social channels, blog, newsletter, feedback/reviews, gallery... we leave a big footprint online and it should always be reflective of your brand.
Take budgets from physical marketing plans and use them on digital channels
Run free webinars for your community, teach useful things
Involve your community in your marketing, if you’re a small business it’s likely they’ll want to help you survive
10. Build your brand
“The only sensible course for any business who wants to maintain a presence through this recession… is to be putting money into long-term brand building.”
— Peter Field
Back in June 2019, renowned author, strategist and marketing consultant Peter Field – during a Brand Building in the Digital Age talk – warned, “One of the big issues we all face today is the demise of brand building. It has become disrespected as more marketers become obsessed with short-term results.”
In our opinion, Peter Field was spot on. This pandemic has shone a spotlight the importance of long-term thinking and brand strength when short-term results are simply not possible.
Whether you’re a single-person business or a team of 50, now is the time to think about what you mean to your customers.
Ask yourself, what would the world be missing if you didn’t exist?
If you’re ready to talk about your brand, ways to add value and further engage your audience – get in touch!