Remember when we could go outside when we wanted, shop when we wanted and commute to work without fear of catching a deadly virus? Yeah, it was pretty recently, although it doesn’t feel like it.
If you were planning to attend trade shows, offer free samples while you were out and about or basically any form of marketing, you’ve very quickly realised that you need a Plan B (or even C, D and E)
The coronavirus (or COVID-19) has changed the way we live and work. Hopefully for the short-term, but that could change. Look how much things have pivoted in just the last couple of months. Life is unrecognisable.
If you’re running a small business, like us, then the impact of this changing world will have been a shock, no matter what business you’re in. Having employees working from home is a start and the Government’s plans to limit the economic impact may help to some degree, but you will no doubt have made some tough decisions already. Unfortunately, there may well be some even more difficult decisions to come.
If you’re a business that sells to businesses, or even consumers, the marketing landscape has shifted massively in a few short weeks. When it comes to sales and marketing, how do you even do that in the current climate?
With social distancing, self-isolation and any number of other ways that have driven a wedge into our collective lifestyles, is there any way to counter it? Can we do anything to help recreate some kind of normal? We think there is, which is lucky or this would be the end of the blog.
Here are our thoughts on creating a marketing checklist to help weather this virus-shaped storm!
Do you remember what your email inbox looked like around Black Friday? Dozens and dozens of messages about sales and reductions on stuff you don’t need? If your inbox is like ours, it will have been equally inundated recently with emails telling you about what your favourite companies are doing to address the pandemic. Just imagine what it would like if these two events happened around the same time! Eugh!
Whilst it’s easy to be blasé about them or see it as overkill, it’s really not. Providing it’s done well (i.e. honest, informative and focus on what’s important to your customers), these emails should be part of any checklist.
If you haven’t sent one out yet, now’s the time. Obviously, we don’t know what your business is or which sector you operate in, so we can’t create a one-size-fits-all email that fits everyone, the email you send needs to hit two targets dead centre. Firstly, the content of the email itself and secondly, the tone of the message.
When writing your message, think about what you, as a customer, would want to know. Be clear, be honest and give them all the relevant information you have that they need. Let them know what you’re thinking about them without sounding twee, offer help where appropriate to do so and overall be conscious of what’s happening in the world.
On the opposite side of the coin, DO NOT, under any circumstances, use this crisis as an outlet to be disingenuous or opportunistic. The key is to build on, or further enhance, the trust your customers have in you already. Don’t ruin that with email messages that are tactless or insensitive.
This crisis is going to affect us all in a myriad of ways, so be aware of making light of the situation or making jokes (even if that’s a usual part of your marketing strategy) which may be misread or misinterpreted.
2. SOCIAL MEDIA
There’s no quicker way of keeping your customers up-to-date with what’s happening in your business than social media. It’s become the lifeblood of this outbreak, for better and (in some cases) for worse.
Whilst the email we just spoke about is a great start, social media can work for you in times like this. Not only can you engage directly with your audience, but it’s also a great way to see the kind of conversations that they (and everyone else) are having online.
If your business relies on footfall and has had to close temporarily, it’s more important than ever to keep your social media platforms going and not just ignore them.
Like we said regarding email, your posts need to be honest and sincere. Context can be so quickly lost, especially when you’re trying to get your message out in a limited capacity.
Again, the business spectrum is wide, so it’s hard to give specific ideas, but you can, for example, use your Instagram / YouTube account to offer hints and tips on looking after your products (if applicable). If you’re in the health and beauty sector, then maybe create some simple tutorials. If you’re a catering business, you can do some recipe videos or Facebook posts making something from what people might have in their cupboards. Stuff like that! The more sharable, the better.
We’ve got loads of ideas, so hit us up on social media if you need some inspiration (all the links are below) and we’ll do our best to help.
3. KEEP YOUR WEBSITE UP-TO-DATE
Usually, any virus on your website is a bad thing, but in these times, addressing the Coronavirus is a must. That said, how you address it will really depend on the type of business you’re running.
Retail businesses, for example, will need to reflect changes in hours (obviously given the lockdown, but still do it) or how postage times on goods might be affected.
If you offer a service, then keep your customers ‘in the loop’ (eugh, sorry, up-to-date) with the information they might need. If you are taking meetings and are doing them via video conference, then say so and let them know how to contact you (e.g. Skype ID, etc.).
If you don’t have a blog on your website, then START. ONE. RIGHT. NOW.! This is the easiest and best way to address issues and keep people informed. It’s so versatile, so please don’t disregard it. If you need help with content ideas, please let us know. All the links for getting in touch are at the bottom of this post.
Finally, whilst it’s not strictly speaking related to your website, it’s important to keep your information updated on things like Google My Business, Yell or web.com. This way customers searching for you will know when you’re around (or not) and how to get in touch.
4. PAID FOR ADVERTISING
Almost every business is going to be tightening its financial belts during this crisis for obvious reasons.
For those companies who usually pay for social media or search engine ads, that’s probably going to be the first to go.
The typical response for many will be just to stop it outright. No point paying for adverts for services you can’t deliver or goods you can’t ship right? Well, yes…. and no!
It might sound strange but it’s better to scale back your ad spend, rather than kill it completely. If you cancel it outright, any optimisations your campaigns have built up will be lost, meaning any money you’ve spent will have been completely wasted. It’s better, assuming you can afford it, to scale it back to a level that you can afford to minimise the impact.
If you have any ads running right now, it might also be a good idea to take a new look at them, given the state of the world at the moment. Maybe, the tone that might have seemed appropriate when you designed and launched them, might be beginning to look insensitive now.
Pushing your products might seem a little opportunistic when people are looking for help and want to maximise what little money they might have. If it’s not helping your customers, maybe it’s time to take another look at them.
5. EVENT (NOT ON THE) HORIZON
Conferences, live events, expos and basically any gathering of more than a couple of people is out of the window right now, for obvious reasons. If they haven’t gone online and it’s in the next week or so, then it’s probably been cancelled (or should be!).
If you were planning on running an event, it’s vital you keep attendees and vendors informed on what the state of the event is. This applies even if you’re not sure. Some news is better than no news.
If the event is still some months away and you’re unsure given the fluid nature of the pandemic, it’s better for people to know what you’re thinking about and the options under consideration. What's Plan B?
Using the things we’ve talked about already, send emails, post about it on social media and, if you’re using third-party tools like Eventbrite, then keep those up-to-date too.
SQUARING THE CIRCLE
With the dynamic, fast-paced developments we’re all experiencing when it comes to COVID-19, it feels like the goalposts are shifting daily. We’re all experiencing this horrifying, once-in-a-lifetime (hopefully) crisis together and it’s fair to say that things are going to change in terms of how we live and work for the foreseeable future.
As it starts to bite, we’re going to lose a lot of people, a lot of businesses and a lot of hope, but when life gives you lemons, wash them first, then make any number of lemon-flavoured products. Basically, we're saying when times get tough, it creates the opportunity to adapt and to try new things.
When we get out of this, life has to go on. Sales will still be made, leads will continue to be created and marketing will still be needed. You’re going to need your customers as much as they’re going to need you, so there’s never been a better time to build a new relationship with them so we can come out the other side, bigger and better.
If you want to get in touch with us at CubeSquared, the links to do so are all below.
We’d love to know what you’re doing to adapt and any new ideas that have worked, so please consider following us across all of our social media platforms.