Thoughts from the team at Clear Engagement on what business marketers should be doing during the pandemic
Almost all of us have been heavily affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on economy, travel and physical togetherness. Some may have even been positively impacted. We understand that while NZ was on full lockdown, many businesses have struggled with a lot of uncertainty. Despite of this, we can’t emphasise enough how important it is to keep talking your customers, to continue to engage them and to stay at top of mind.
It’s not a question of whether or not you should be marketing but it’s about balancing the way you communicate with customers and prospects. Kiwi businesses have been presented with many challenges and for many of them, there may be little to no budget available to spend. Simultaneously, the needs of many businesses have changed rapidly and require certain offerings to meet these needs. The way we market during this time needs to reflect this.
None of us can predict exactly what lies ahead but it’s important to keep going. Business will eventually be thriving again; perhaps very soon.
For that point in time, you want to be prepared. You want to have built a pipeline of opportunities; you will want to have kept your brand at top of mind. Most importantly, you will not want to have to start from scratch. A little can go a long way – there is a lot you can do that may only require little resource.
Now that we have entered Alert Level 3, New Zealand has made the first step towards “normality”. Consider Level 3 as a transition time to get back on your feet and get back on track – so here’s a few recommendations on what you should and shouldn’t be doing.
Should you be marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes, absolutely. Many of your past, current and future customers are still out there, and they have likely overcome the first phase of the unknown by now. They still have needs, perhaps more than before. They need to keep the wheels of business turning, just like you. Even if they’re not in a position to act right now, it’s important you keep talking to them, inform them, nurture your relationship and build a pipeline for when they are in a position to buy.
This doesn’t have to be in the form of high budget, fancy advertising campaigns. This can be a simple email, social media content or blog post – as long as it’s relevant and of value to your customers.
You do, however, need to adapt how you market & communicate during this time, which brings us to the next point.
How should your marketing efforts differ?
It’s important you genuinely show empathy, meaning you try to understand the situation of your customers and prospects. No one will react well if you’re seen to heartlessly profit from the pandemic. Your marketing efforts need to balance storytelling, language and sales. It’s a great time to position your brand, however, you will need to be careful what language you use and how appropriate certain topics are. Also look at who you’re targeting and consider heavily affected industries.
Don’t avoid the topic, be open about it. Adapt according to latest developments. Talk and listen to your customers and try to understand.
This may not be the time for highly expensive advertising campaigns, but it’s important to be out there, show empathy, share stories about your business and how you’ve adapted yourself. Communicate what you’re trying to do to help. Build trust. When better times come around, this will be remembered by your audience.
What can you do to be genuinely helpful?
It’s one thing to communicate empathy, but it’s another thing to genuinely help.
Genuine support could be in the form of providing valuable tips and insights at no cost, it could be developing an amended proposition tailored to the new situation (eg tailored to an environment where teams work from home and have to collaborate virtually), or this may even be offering flexible finance options. Think about what your customers & prospects really need right now (and what they don’t) and what you could do to support them.
When it comes to your existing customer base, don’t underestimate the value of loyalty. It’s important you demonstrate that you truly care (no matter whether they can currently spend or not) and that you offer your support. The more loyal customers you have during this time, the healthier your pipeline will be.
In a nutshell…
Here’s some actionable suggestions on what to consider:
Be empathetic & genuinely helpful
- Think about how your customers are affected
- Consider what they really need right now
- If you don’t know the answers to the above – ask your customers
- Share your own challenges and solutions – we’re all in this together
- Develop propositions that are needed and tailored to the situation
Communicate with your existing customers
- Send email communications that go beyond the standard COVID-19 message, but provide insight and offer assistance
- Share useful content via social media
- Share and offer support at no cost
Get your brand out there
- Keep your brand visible through regular communications via email and/or digital channels
- Keep your website up to date and share the latest information, easy to find for anyone visiting your page
- Work on your storytelling (remember, this is likely what you will be remembered for)
- Build a pipeline by building and strengthening relationships
- Make sure you measure and analyse the response – this will show if your message is resonating with
- your audience and provide insights into what they may be interested in
Make good use of extra time
- Update/clean your databases to allow for enhanced segmentation and personalisation in future
- Update your customer and market research to create new insights
- Create useful, valuable content assets that you can utilise in the future
- We’re here to help, whether it’s a piece of advice you need or help to develop ideas, we’d love to hear from you!
Contact us here.