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Businesses in some parts of the U.S. and around the world are slowly resuming operations after the shutdown, albeit cautiously and with uncertainty blanketing the economy. For many businesses — especially those that cut their budgets and/or staff — building momentum starts with marketing.
Before you dive back into the daily grind, ask yourself the following questions:
• Has isolation changed entertainment viewing habits?
• Are the same advertising channels still viable, or should we explore other media?
• Did our vendors make it through as well?
• How can we support our vendors while moving forward with our interests?
• Have customer segments disappeared and/or emerged?
• Are there new opportunities for our goods and services?
• What are our current marketing capabilities, given any layoffs, furloughs or disruptions to our staff or marketing vendors?
Our agency spent a large portion of the shutdown helping clients reduce costs while staying the course in some form — for example, refocusing retail marketing on mail orders. Now we’re focused on positioning them to pick up steam even in the case of an economic downturn.
Here’s how to do the same for your business:
Have your customer segments changed? Their behaviors may have changed, as well as their ability to buy. Analyze your audience in terms of opportunities lost, retained and gained. Then, augment your internal staff and choose your marketing partners accordingly. Be sure your vendors can handle your new demands in light of any staff changes they may have made.
Finally, review your marketing media, taking into account changed viewing habits, shifting markets and post-pandemic messaging. Is your pre-pandemic media buy still appropriate? With this knowledge in hand, it’s time to re-enter the marketplace.
Make sure your marketing messages create a sense of commonality. We are all going through this together. Focus on the positive rather than dwelling on negative details. Everyone has heard and will continue to hear enough of the words “coronavirus” and “COVID-19” in the news.
With so many people staying at home, digital media and social advertising have become much more strategic. Email marketing should be finely targeted to break through the increased clutter in our inboxes. You may want to consider smaller, more precise mailings rather than typical “blasts” to your full list. Hopefully, we have all grown more cooperative during this crisis. Your post-pandemic messaging should reflect this. Offer extended payment options. Promote related charities on social media. Focus on the altruistic portions of your brand messaging.
Be mindful of your clients’ or customers’ needs during this time. Not everyone is going to be back up and running immediately, and some will go through hardships they may not wish to fully divulge. This is a time for relationship building, not badgering. Special promotions, free shipping and extended payment options are small gestures that will be appreciated and remembered now more than ever.
Remain true to your brand, and double down on your values. Revisit your mission and vision with your employees. Remind everyone of everything that you believe you can accomplish right now and in the future. On the customer-facing side, use honest, heartfelt messaging to refresh brand loyalty. Even your most loyal customers could probably use a nudge.
There will no doubt be winners and losers as we all try to get back to business as usual. As tempting as it may be to take shortcuts, considering the long view will likely be more rewarding. Remember, we are all in this together. The cornerstone of a successful brand is having customers believe that you are just like them.
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Author: Dave McIndoe, CommunityVoice