A crisis is a crisis because it adversely affects many aspects of life and the way we do business. Hence, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is but natural that you, as a consumer, will make buying decisions differently, and as a business, will witness a change in your sales. There will be demand fluctuations – while essential commodities and services are likely to see a dramatic surge in demand, non-essential items will become harder to sell.
Either way, these are critical times for any brand. At a time like this, when business is getting disrupted unprecedentedly, should you stop your marketing efforts? Let’s delve deeper.
The goal of marketing is not to redeem a brand when things go wrong or sales begin to plummet. Marketing is essential to keep a business healthy – just like food is meant to keep us healthy. If you want to build and sustain a healthy business, you need to continuously keep your marketing efforts on.
The current crisis puts most businesses at a critical juncture. Thus, during this pandemic, make marketing and promotion of your brand a need and not a choice.
Let’s consider a few critical reasons why your marketing efforts cannot stop during the pandemic.
Marketing Helps with Brand Recall
Marketing helps create brand recall in the minds of your target audience. If you stop your efforts, other brands will take over. This is true even for established brands. This is because unless you keep updating yourself and informing your prospects and buyers that you care, the perception about your brand could slowly start to change or your brand’s cognizance can simply get blurred from the minds of the consumers.
Branding Develops a Strong Customer Base
The lockdown has forced people to resort to working from home. Researches have shown that this has led to higher dwell times of users across certain channels and media – for example, LinkedIn. B2B companies have upped their spend on channels such as paid ads, webinars, and podcasts. This clearly demonstrates that marketing continues to create awareness when budgets and efforts are streamed across the right channels. Now is the time when the focus can be turned towards social media channels and email marketing. However, you must remember the sensitiveness of the times and design your promotional strategies accordingly. Keep evaluating your tactics, test your campaigns, and measure your results to see if you are being able to tap new customers, target new geographies, establish what products and what messages are working best for you, and so on.
People Still Need Products and Services
Billions of people around the world are following social distancing and are confined to their own homes, but they still need products and services. If you invest in the right channels, such as search engine marketing, you can improve your outreach by being more discoverable. The majority of people are now browsing the internet to make purchases, or just keeping themselves informed, which creates tremendous new opportunities for search engine marketing. Both forms of search engine marketing – paid and organic – will help you reach out to potential customers.
- During a time like this, being on top of the searches and on top of the customer’s mind when they are searching for your product or brand goes a long way in building brand loyalty. In fact, it is likely that people will be actively online and spending more time searching the internet now. For instance, if there is scarcity of a certain product, consumers will search for alternatives. So, putting your brand before your prospects will ensure rapid conversions.
- Search engine marketing will help you to assess how effective your strategy is through continuous monitoring of performance analytics. This will be useful because buyer behavior has, and will be, going through changes during this time.
- It will also be cost effective than other marketing strategies because all you have to do is pick the right targeted keywords and phrases based on the changes in the buyer-intent that are occurring in the market.
Marketing Provides Critical Customer Data & Insights
Many factories have been shut down and supply chains are being disrupted. Added to this are queries and uncertainties from the customer side. All this is making production and delivery of services quite a challenge during the pandemic. It is thus extremely important for marketers to adopt strategies accordingly and make data-driven decisions on what should be produced and in what quantities. For example:
- Set the right expectations about the services that you can render, launch dates of new products, availability of items, and others. During a crisis, it is important to let customers know what promises you can deliver.
- Customers are full of queries and have fluctuating needs. Hence, you need to reach out to them to know what to produce and also to keep them calm. For this, not only should you draft messages to distribute via various social media channels but also train your staff accordingly.
- If you’re in the retail or consumer goods business, expand and grow your digital delivery network as most buyers are now ordering online.
It is only when you are engaged with your customers that you will know what their need of the hour is. This will help you to optimise your production and reduce losses.
Reach Out and Calm Your Customers
The pandemic has resulted in widespread worry. Hence, you should take up the responsibility of communicating and calming down your customers, and inculcate this within your marketing strategy.
- Inform the customers about the measures that you are taking to combat the virus. This could be about store closures, policy updates, changes in the way goods will get delivered, and others.
- During such a time, informative posts on social media adds value to customer relationships. However, when you do so make sure that you do not add to the panic and so be mindful of the visuals and language that you use.
- Your messages should be humble and empathetic – avoid any message that might sound insensitive.
- Your posts should have a positive tone to it but not one that makes you look ignorant.
- Don’t remove emotion from your brand – it is okay to share smiling images of people. Yes, the situation is grim, but positivity creates hope in the minds of people.
- Add posts that show how you are engaging with your employees. For example, the shows they are watching, tips to stay fit at home, and others. Remember that the showing the human-side connects people.
- Highlight ways that your brand can help customers.
Downtimes are hard but even during this phase, businesses can grow if they continue their marketing activities in the right direction. After all, it is effective marketing that enables customers to get to know about an organization. Hence, every campaign and every message needs to be carefully drafted and implemented. This does come with its share of challenges, but with all the benefits that an ongoing marketing campaign provides even during a pandemic, it is worth all the effort.