The coronavirus pandemic has changed many things, and no doubt many businesses are feeling the impact. The UK lockdown has been in place for nearly 2 months now, and there is little sign of things changing drastically in the near future. Although some restrictions may relax in the coming weeks and months, others may stay in place well into next year.
While it may be tempting for many businesses to cut down on their marketing budget due to money concerns and the impending recession, cutting your spending or focusing your energy elsewhere could have an even more crippling impact on your business’s future. Right now, businesses should be looking for ways to ensure they stay top of mind for consumers and increase their brand awareness. Those that innovate and make the best of this situation will come out on top.
Re-evaluate your marketing campaigns and the messages you are putting out there
Many brands have had to re-evaluate their marketing strategies and campaigns amidst the coronavirus. A survey by Marketing Week found that 86% of UK brand marketers are delaying or reviewing their marketing campaigns. Two-thirds of marketers for small businesses said they have changed their marketing strategies in response to the coronavirus. Every business, both small and large, has been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 crisis, and the way you marketed your business a month or two ago is no longer applicable. Businesses need to react and adapt their strategies. Investing in relationships with customers and building brand awareness is critical to your growth now, more than ever.
During times like this, to fall silent is the worst possible response. If you refuse to address the current situation, you will look out of touch, become unrelatable, and the conversation will continue without your input. At the very least, you should keep your customers up to date with basic relevant information during this time, such as, how the pandemic is affecting your business operations or events, what you are doing to ensure your customers, staff, and the public are kept safe, and what they can expect from you throughout the crisis and beyond.
Re-evaluating how you market your business or what you are marketing, is a good idea. During this time brands should respond with empathy and sensitivity to the ongoing concerns, and carefully consider what they are putting out there as some things may not be received well in the midst of the crisis. For example, KFC stopped any advertising that focused on finger-licking after they received complaints it was inappropriate during a time where we are supposed to be focused on good hygiene practices.
Show your customers you care
You need to think about your target audience and whether or not their priorities or situation will change as a result of the virus. If so, you need to think of ways to adapt your content and marketing strategy to reflect this. A little bit of humanity and empathy goes a long way, especially in times like this, and people will remember businesses for their acts of good during the crisis. Show your customers that you care about them by checking in on their wellbeing. Feel-good content that alleviates anxiety and promotes positivity will go a long way to enhancing your brand. Now is a time to be more human and show consumers compassion and reassurance. Many businesses are offering their customers free advice, discounts, industry tips, and tricks, or even things to keep them entertained such as videos, quizzes, or interesting interviews and blogs to read.
Maintaining visibility in your market is essential
Maintaining visibility in your market is essential for long term growth and profitability. Out of sight means out of mind, so you need to keep in touch with consumers or face losing them. Find ways to effectively reach your consumers at home, so you can remain top of mind and at the forefront of your industry. As people are spending more time at home, digital advertising has become essential.
Utilise social media
Social media especially has become a powerful vehicle for advertising and reaching consumers. During lockdown we have seen a huge increase in people using social media across all age groups. People are turning to social media for a sense of community, for entertainment and as a form of escapism during the pandemic. Research by Global Web Index has found that the increase in people checking social media across all age demographics is as follows: 27% among Gen Z, 30% among Millennials, 29% among Gen X, and 15% among Boomers.
Companies can benefit from this increase in social media usage since lockdown began by using social media as a vehicle for their advertising and a way to interact with consumers, and this can lead to increased brand exposure. Create engaging and relevant content and share it across social media for your consumers to see and interact with. Marketing your brand on social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok can be beneficial at this point, and incredibly cost-effective, which is great for businesses who may not have a large marketing budget.
Improve your online presence
The pandemic and resulting lockdown have proven that a strong online presence is vital for businesses to stay afloat and remain visible. For B2C businesses especially, the lockdown has shown that having a website is essential during lockdown when people cannot leave their homes to physically buy products. Without a website, your profit margins could plummet overnight. This is something high street retailer Primark found after their profits dropped from £650 million a month to zero when the lockdown forced them to shut all 376 of their stores, and they had no online business to fall back on.
Businesses need to spend time improving their online presence so that they can remain visible and have a way of maintaining business function at times like this. Focus on creating an effective website that is tailored to your business needs. Your website should be search engine optimised so that it ranks on search engine results pages like Google and can be easily found by consumers. To ensure your website is optimised for search, you should ensure it has a good website speed, contains relevant and useful information, is easy to navigate, and makes it easy for users to make a purchase. Improving your website user experience can also help to increase your online conversions when people reach your website. Having a good website can help with business growth during the lockdown and beyond. Another good idea is to update your Google business page with accurate and up-to-date information, so customers know how to reach you during this time.
Use this time to consider the big picture for your company. Look at where you want to be and think of creative ways you can get there. Companies that market effectively during crises and economic downturn are always poised to reap the rewards when the economy picks back up again, and things return to normal. Lockdown will end, and things will pick back up, so you have to make sure when this happens you are at the forefront of everyone’s minds with some innovative and considered marketing now.