Nothing is predictable in business, but nobody would have thought when the bells struck midnight on the 1st January that we’d be staying at home for weeks due to a viral pandemic. The last few months have been incredibly challenging for business owners, and this is why getting your marketing strategy right is so crucial. If you’re looking to bounce back, engage with customers and send sales soaring again, here are some marketing best practices to bear in mind.
Increase your marketing budget
It may seem daunting to increase any expenses at the moment, but this is a time to invest in effective, targeted marketing techniques, rather than to cut back on funding for campaigns. Focus on maximising your ROI by carrying out market research to define and get to know your audience and responding to emerging and changing trends. Figures from Forbes indicate a significant increase (61%) in social media engagement during lockdown, with brands taking the opportunity to connect with customers and followers while usage is up due to lockdown measures and fewer people being in work. Adapting the way you market and promote products and brands and investing in proven online techniques and methods that will resonate with the right buyer will have a positive impact.
Provide reassurance and be empathetic
The Coronavirus crisis has hit everyone hard. As a business owner, it’s critical to look out for your employees and your customers and clients and to show empathy. Offer reassurance through information and communication updates and check in on your loyal customers. People want to feel safe when they emerge from lockdown, and some people may take longer to leave the house and return to ‘normal.’ Showing empathy, interacting with customers and offering services and features that take problems or fears into account can all help to rebuild confidence and trust and ensure clients view your brand in a positive light. A poll conducted by Ipsos MORI revealed that over 70% of people in the UK, China and Japan are nervous about leaving home after businesses and transport routes reopen.
Consistency is essential when planning and implementing marketing strategies. Your campaigns should promote your brand, tell people more about your ethos and convey the same message. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, the primary aim is to reach out, reconnect and build towards the future. Brand image is crucial at a time when many people might not be keen to make purchases or spend money on services. By being consistent in the way you communicate and brand your business, you can ensure you set the right tone, offer reassurance and comfort, inspire confidence and present your brand in the best light. Confused, inconsistent marketing can damage your identity and dilute the message.
Storytelling is an increasingly effective marketing method for businesses of all sizes. People are captivated by stories and they remember what they’re reading about or looking at. A recent study suggested that brands that employ storytelling successfully have the ability to boost the value of services and products by 20 times. Storytelling can be beneficial at any time, but it’s likely to be particularly impactful at the moment when we’re navigating uncharted waters and the future is uncertain. Many customers are eager to get back into shops, to resume work on their houses or to spend money in the hospitality sector, but they’re not quite sure whether it’s safe to take that step. Businesses can utilise storytelling to provide an insight into what is going on and what’s been happening behind the scenes and explain how life is going to be a little bit different in the coming days, weeks, and months. Using visual content, providing digestible, clear explanations and interacting with customers through posts and emails that tell stories is an excellent way to increase consumer confidence and enhance your brand image. The human brain processes visual data around 60,000 times faster than text, and it can help to provide clarity.
Honesty and openness
Every customer knows that the pandemic has wreaked havoc for businesses. To strengthen relationships and work towards a successful recovery, it’s beneficial to be open and honest with your clients. Tell them what is happening with your business, how you’re adapting or changing and what they can expect if they choose to place an order, pop into a store or make an inquiry online. Sending out emails with infographics, video clips and illustrated guides and sharing social media posts about new safety measures will help to bridge gaps and ensure your customers understand what has happened in the past and what that means for the future.
Manage expectations and keep communicating
Even the most well-prepared, well-adjusted business will need to learn on the job in the coming weeks. We are all experiencing a ‘new normal’ and businesses are operating in a different way. As a company owner, it’s important to manage expectations, provide clear explanations and instructions and keep in touch with clients. Send out emails, post blogs on your website or share updates on social media to inform customers of changes. If your delivery times are expected to increase, you’re limiting numbers in a restaurant or hair salon, or you’re asking customers to place orders online or to wear a face covering when they visit, communicate these measures and make sure you’re accessible to respond to questions or concerns. It’s always best to inform people of potential delays or modifications, which might affect the quality of the service temporarily, in advance so that your customer knows what to expect. According to Microsoft, 96% of consumers list customer service as the most important factor when choosing which brands to be loyal to.
Marketing can play a key role in helping businesses to recover after the Covid-19 crisis. If you’re looking to promote your business, to drum up interest in products and services and to connect with new and existing clients, it’s wise to bear these best practice guidelines in mind.