We know everyone’s situation during the COVID19 pandemic is different and can completely appreciate that keeping your team and your company running in the present climate is the priority – we’re 100% with you on that. But where possible, marketing needs to be prioritised. As Henry Ford said: “Stopping your marketing to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.” Ultimately, if you don’t invest in your marketing, your sales and profits are likely to decrease. You won’t be saving money, you’ll be losing it.
Since the UK lockdown, it’s been shown that continuing to share relatable content and brand communications has a notable affect on consumers. In a survey by Censuswide, it was found that “almost half (48%) of Brits either somewhat or strongly agree they’re noticing brand news more because they’re reading the news more.” (1) It’s a given – since mid-March, more and more people are working from home and now with no social life except for Zoom pub quizzes and Disney+ we are browsing online more than ever.
Not only are people more aware of new brands they haven’t encountered before, but they’re also trusting them more because of the way they are presenting themselves during this time. In the same survey it was calculated that “almost 3 in 5 (58%) strongly or somewhat agree that the way brands are behaving during covid-19 is going to affect their decision to give them their business in the future” (1). So although it’s important to continue sharing and interacting with your consumers, it’s also important to think about what values and messages you are sharing with them during this time so that your brands ‘behaviour’ comes across positively.
An example of how this hasn’t worked is the recent ‘social distancing’ campaign from McDonalds. The campaign shows the famous McDonalds Golden Arches separated, with the main message to its consumers to socially distance themselves – a great message which is sure to be seen by a lot of people. But the campaign was hit with backlash, with some questioning how the brand has been treating its own workers or painting it as an opportunistic, awards-baiting move. This campaign certainly backfired but at least we can take note.
So, what message or campaign can you share? It may be obvious but sharing a positive message or good news about your business could influence your customers quite significantly. Censuswide’s survey says that “research showed that consumers are looking to brands to spread some positivity during this time as almost 7 in 10 (68%) of Brits deem the release of positive news from brands as very or somewhat important.” (1) So don’t be afraid to shout if something exciting has happened within your company; from small to big wins, your customers will be pleased to hear it.
As for your future marketing plans, we’ve seen a lot of articles recently claiming that a ‘new era in marketing’ has begun as a by-product of the new social distancing regulations – it’s great that companies are evolving around these with new ways of working – the innovation out there is incredible with companies adapting to new situations overnight with great success, but we’re not convinced it will continue once we’re back working in the office. Listening to Marketing Week columnist, Mark Ritson’s, recent webinar on ‘the practical advice of Marketing during COVID19’, he discusses the economic impact of the outbreak and how marketers need to adapt their approach and work smarter. He talks about the future, after COVID19 has passed and how brands need to be preparing for a ‘Exogenous Recession’ (Exogenous meaning it was created by an external factor i.e a virus) and to be wary about falling for the ‘Marketing is changed for good’ trap. Ritson argues that although behaviours have changed now, it’s unlikely that these will stick given our past which shows that changing human behaviours is a long and slow process.
So why not use your time now to think strategically about the future and even take advantage of being in a different environment to see your brand or company from a new perspective. Whether you’ve been meaning to freshen up your brand, change your key messaging or you want to try a new marketing strategy for 2021 then now’s the time to do that by planning efficiently and strategically to get the most success when we’re back to normality. Ritson gives 4 key points to go by when re-thinking your marketing strategy:
- Target – What / who is your target? and also what / who is not?
- Brand portfolio – which product / service are you going to focus on?
- Brand positioning – what does your brand stand for / what targets are you are aiming for?
- Strategic Objectives – what are your objectives for the year ahead which are measurable and marketing based?
Throughout all of this it’s also important to think about your position in the market against your competitors. To do this requires keeping an eye on your industry news and picking up on potential new trends first. For example, there’s been a recent switch up in beauty trends since the COVID19 where instead of customers wanting products which are ‘environmentally friendly’ or ‘pure’ they’re now more interested in knowing that the products that brands are supplying are actually ‘preventative’ and seen as ‘safe’(2). Knowing this gives you the upper hand to identify your key product / service and actually create content or emphasise the benefits of your product / service around this emerging trend (this isn’t just for now, this is a key tip for any time…).
And then finally, a bit of house admin because, although it seems insignificant, the small things you do behind the scenes also make a difference. As we mentioned earlier, now more than ever people are searching the internet, so it’s important that your website and business information is up to date and in line with any temporary changes which you may have needed to implement.
You can do this by:
- Adding notices to your homepage and any other relevant high traffic landing pages
- Alter your service offering on your site where applicable
- Address FAQs which have resulted from the pandemic on your site
- Update Google My Business times
It’s also a great time to clean up any old, messy code or badly written copy which google might be penalising you for or to downsize large images and files which might be slowing down your website browser speed, all of which might be causing frustrations to potential clients interested in your products.
To conclude, here’s a recap on our top tips for keeping your marketing going during COVID19:
- Continue to communicate with your audience – whatever you do, don’t stop.
- Be sure that what you are communicating has the right message – Don’t be afraid to share good news.
- Don’t be caught out by changing your future marketing plans now based on the ‘Marketing is changed for good’ trap.
- Take advantage of working from home and use any newly available time to think strategically and from a different perspective.
- Keep an eye on your industries trends and get ahead of your competitors.
- House admin – do any necessary updates to your website or business information to make your clients aware of your new / temporary offerings and avoid frustrations.
“F1 Races aren’t won in the straight, they are won in the chicanes and corners… it is when the driving is toughest that you need to have the guts to put your foot down…” anonymous
- Censuswide, The survey consultants. The research was conducted by Censuswide, with a sample of 2,036 nationally representative respondents aged 16+ in the UK between 27.03.2020 – 30.03.2020.