The COVID-19 crisis has confined most of us to our homes, but that is just the first effect of the crisis. As people stay in and all services are at a halt, the global economy is taking a hit. This might be an indicator of a recession in the future, or it might not. We have yet to see if economies will be able to quickly recover.
If you’re a business owner, this can be a stressful time for you. Marketing has slowed down and your planned strategies may not see the light of the day for a few months. Does that mean your business is failing? It doesn’t have to. You can make this time no more than an obstacle in the growth of your business by switching up your marketing strategies to keep up with the global crisis.
Focus on the Long Term
The first thing to understand when something as uncertain as this pandemic hits the world is that your marketing strategy has to focus on long-term ideas. “Moment marketing” is amazing to increase immediate reach and engagement, but the need of the hour is evergreen, long-term marketing.
This is illustrated by an article on CXL that quotes a 2002 McKinsey study that covered the period of 1982-1999 including the recession years of 1990-1999. The study examined 1000 US companies, focusing on how they behaved during the recession and the impacts of that behavior after the recession on company performance. The highest-ranking companies were classified as “leaders,” with the study finding that “while most companies tightened their belts, successful leaders, trading lower short-term profitability for long-term gain, refocused rather than cut spending.” Essentially, companies that switched their priority to long-term gain survived uncertain times and emerged as leaders in their sectors.
In terms of marketing, this could mean tailoring your advertising to meet current consumer needs. Today, many people are prioritizing their expenses and cutting spending due to the uncertainty of the economy. Depending on your product, you’ll want to adjust your strategy accordingly. In an article on marketing in times of uncertainty, Mike Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner states “If your product or service doesn’t help people resolve those personal needs, consider pausing your direct marketing for a short time and until you get a new strategy in place”. This may seem counterintuitive, but remember, you should be focusing on long term gains.
Make a Shift to Digital
Your old marketing plan may no longer be feasible, but you can always make a new one. And this time, make sure you base it mostly if not entirely on digital. At least until other mediums resume. This is the most important marketing shift you can make during this time.
Use digital platforms to engage with your audience, and create content that they will look forward to. Previously trending content, memes, and interactive quizzes are ways to grab social attention. Remember: uncertain times are perfect to further build your brand personality and reach out to consumers. During this time, people are actually looking to consume relevant content. In other words, you have their attention. Now all you need to do is keep it.
Writing blogs might be a great idea too. While short-term methods such as search ads get immediate engagement, blogs get consistent engagement for a longer period of time. This is sustainable marketing. Don’t dismiss content marketing; focus on it even more! Good content can help you keep your customers once things go back to normal, and it might even get you some new ones.
You should also consider upgrading your website and making it more relevant to the current situation. Your user is spending more and more time online, so use it to drive traffic to your website. Consider creating user experience scenarios to improve the functionality of your website. This also helps to identify any glitches in terms of consumer experience, and there is no better time than now to get hiccups sorted out.
Keep Your Customer At The Forefront of Your Campaign
Yes, you know who “used” to buy your products, but are you looking at how your customer is changing? A pandemic causes behavioral changes which, in turn, lead to changes in patterns of consumption. There is already a strong shift and preference to shop online, and this is likely to continue for the near future at least. Keeping current with consumer behavior changes is key, and it will greatly influence your marketing strategy. It is prudent to deploy tools like surveys and questionnaires that are mapping the possible changes in your customer due to the COVID-19 spread.
With this in mind, you might want to consider restructuring your conversion funnel. Is it still going to be the same after the crisis? Probably not. The ways of converting audiences into customers will have to change, and you need to be prepared for these changes to tackle them appropriately.
Strengthen Your Brand Identity
Businesses often forget to plan for the aftermath of a crisis while they try to get out of the crisis quicksand. Although getting through the crisis is important, it is more important to plan for the other side. Once the economy starts to recover — and it will — you need to ensure that you still have people who would buy your product. Therefore, it is crucial that your brand identity remains intact during the crisis itself, and that you use this time to connect with people.
Ensure that your content reflects your brand identity in every way possible. Maybe you and some coworkers got together to sew and donate masks. Whatever the case, show your customers your brand identity through how you are responding to the global crisis. Be sure to stay present in your customers’ lives and share relevant, useful content. Your audience might even put in a good word for you to their friends, and this is the best form of PR through this time.
It is imperative to adjust your marketing strategy to suit the current global landscape. Doing so may seem overwhelming, but know that this time doesn’t have to be a statement of loss for your business. If you work towards a new and improved strategy, your business can come out of this crisis stronger than before.