The Covid-19 pandemic has brought a great deal of uncertainty. Only a few organisations were prepared with a marketing strategy during a crisis. If you are in charge of a business or an organisation, the uncertainty takes on a new dimension, and you will most likely want to know which are the most critical steps you can take to fend off the global disruption we are all experiencing.
In a rapidly changing environment, your primary concern should be to keep your organisation or business running. This may require a significant shift of priorities and extensive restructuring, paying particular attention to your marketing and communications plans.
While it is impossible to avoid all risks, modifying your marketing strategy during a crisis is the first step. In this post, you’ll find a guide to bulletproofing your marketing strategy in times of crisis.
What Your Customers Want, Revisited
Marketing hinges on effective communication. Now, more than ever before, it’s crucial to ensure that your marketing strategy communicates the right message and is in line with your customers’ expectations and circumstances.
People’s needs and priorities have changed substantially. Many will have questions that your website or social media do not currently answer. To address this, you will need to rewrite customer personas based on how Covid-19 may have affected them.
You may want to use the six new customer behaviour thresholds identified by Nielsen, and evaluate how your redesigned marketing strategy should fit within them.
Above all, remember that one of the main things customers want in times of crisis is information and reassurance. Consider how your online presence needs to be redesigned, so it puts customers first by keeping them in the loop. You may not have all the answers, but being transparent will build rapport.
You may also want to consider using video conferences, live chat, or live Q&A sessions to draw your customers into the conversation and listen to what they need. This will generate insights into what’s most valuable to them and will inform the adjustments you’ll need to make to your marketing strategy during the crisis.
The faster you respond to what your customers need, the higher your chances will be to secure a more significant market share.
Rethinking Your Brand Image
Understandably, some business owners may be reluctant to launch any marketing campaign right now. They may think that customers have other things to worry about, or that it may be perceived as frivolous and insensitive.
Yet, this is an opportunity to forge a more personal connection with your customers, as long as the message behind your marketing strategy is relevant. The key is to increase trust and offer something of value in difficult times. To do this, you’ll need to anticipate the new normal and the role your brand is to play in it.
From Nike to McDonald’s, market leaders have been adjusting their brand message to the situation while remaining inspirational. So ask yourself “What is my brand’s key message in times of crisis?”.
Not every company can shift its core services or products to meet critical demand, but reshaping your brand image and message is doable. Your values and mission may remain the same. Still, the focus is different: it could be educational (by offering much needed fact-checked information), offer support and a sense of community, or address your customers’ pain points with new or redesigned products and services.
One thing is for sure: this is not the time to sit back and wait for the storm to pass. Your ability to respond to this crisis may completely transform your brand’s public perception, and if handled well, it will attract loyal customers.
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However, because the long-term scenario is too unstable, it is wise to redesign your marketing and crisis communications along two dimensions: short term (within the next three months) and medium-term (the next six to nine months). Next, we will look at the most effective ways of doing this.
Your short-term marketing strategy in times of crisis will have the most substantial impact on your bottom line. Focus on agile, dynamic, and easily adjustable solutions and be cautious with expenses. In other words, reassess your marketing strategy and incorporate the principles of bootstrap marketing into your plans.
One way of doing this is by investing in your social media strategy. Low costs and high exposure rates situate social media marketing as one of the most effective approaches to work on right now.
Under normal circumstances, people spend an average of 3 hours a day consuming content on social media. Since the start of the pandemic, social media use has increase substantially: usage time has grown by 40% for WhatsApp, 50% for Facebook, and Instagram live views have doubled. This is where your audience is, so it makes sense to redirect your resources to social platforms.
You can use social media to delivering customer service as if it was a crisis management tool. These platforms allow you to develop one-to-one and more personable interactions and can generate a positive impression that’s likely to carry on beyond the duration of the crisis.
Making Services and Products More Accessible
Another short-term marketing strategy in times of crisis involves launching price promotions and freebie campaigns. Now is the time to demonstrate solidarity and empathy with those whose day-to-day life has been affected. The examples are everywhere. For instance, online course provider Bluprint is offering free access to their content for a limited time. Digital Marketer is offering free membership to those affected by Covid-19. People are turning to creative endeavours and to learning new skills, so think about how you can capitalise on that.
This could entail fully or partially dropping paywalls, offering payment assistance or new payment terms, and creating updated low-cost versions of digital products. In short, consider what your brand can do for your community of customers, and in the process, you may generate more leads.
Adjust Expectations And Customer Retention Models
The main goal of your medium-term marketing strategy, not only in times of crisis, should be retaining existing customers. If you can maintain volume by keeping customers going back to your products and services, you’ll have a better chance to weather this storm. But you may have to do this at the expense of overall profits and accept lower ROI as a trade-off. In times of crisis, everyone’s expectations need to be adjusted.
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To adjust your retention strategy, funnel your resources taking into account what could “the new normal” look like in your industry. Content marketing will continue to play a crucial role in every medium-term marketing strategy. A new landscape equals demand for new content, and content marketing will help deliver what your customers want while keeping your business afloat.
The current crisis presents a chance to create long-lasting value, establish thought leadership, and inspire loyalty through actions that matter to your customers. This is an excellent time to become relevant and stay relevant. If you need support with your crisis, managing efforts or redirecting your marketing strategy, get in touch to discuss a tailor-made solution.