If you are a business owner, there is a chance that Covid-19 as affected your business one way or the other. Social distancing, self-isolating and remote working been the new normal, as affected demand and supply. This is the time that you probably have to step back and re-evaluate your business model and figured out how to keep the lights on. Branding and marketing become less of a focus.
Zambian Covid-19 cases as seen surge since last month.
In a crisis, marketing is the first expenditure to go or be evaluated, which is probably the right course of action. Because consumer behaviour as changed because times are uncertain and customers would rather save money due to fear and unemployment.
So then, should you stop marketing or cut the budget on marketing expenditure?
Ad spends as dropped by a significant amount, but on the other hand media consumption and time spent online as seen a significant increase. People are spending more time online. My advice then is to not stop marketing.
Because the goal is branding, and as branding goes it's a long term strategy, you may not see the befits now, but you see them later. You will be building a tribe, a following and trust.
Reach your customer online.
Marketing if done well and with branding as a focus, can help you established your business with a strong brand image, making you relevant and develop trust with your customers.
Trust takes time. You are not going to ask someone to marry you on the first encounter. You start with a date and then build from there, have a relationship and build trust. Even then its still a “maybe”, but at least you have better chances than meet and marry. And that's how branding works, you establish trust develop a relationship with your customers and then ask them to marry you (or buy from you, whichever works).
Marketing and branding are still important even in crisis, more so for digital marketing and online branding. You can keep your customers engaged and informed about your company position and your efforts on keeping them safe when and if they visit your establishment and what your product can solve for them. Most businesses have dropped the frequency of social media post and advertising, which is understandable, but without a good strategy that may hurt your branding in the long run. Instead, with a good strategy, you can look at what works, put all your efforts into it and cut what is not working.
Internet usage as increased by at least 50% due to Covid-19, this means more audience for your content, more so if you are using digital marketing as your marketing channel. A lot of people are avoiding movements and are staying indoors and spending more time online. Let's look at how you can reach them.
How To Market During Covid-19
How does one create a marketing strategy that will stand the test of time even after the pandemic? How does one find the balance to stay relevant and in business at the same time, or how do you create a brand that will be strong during and after the pandemic.
To do that we first make sure every aspect of your business is measurable and trackable.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. – Peter Drucker
The significance of this quote is that you can't know that you are succeeding if you can't measure your success. With trackable KPIs and success metrics, you can quantify your progress and adjust your process to produce the desired outcome. You need measurable goals and trackable performance.
After clearly defined metrics for success, as said earlier, identify all the marketing efforts that are not working and cut them to reduce expenditure ..etc print, and increase time and efforts on SEO, social media, blogging and content marketing. Most of these strategies require little to non-expenses, except for time of course.
Then look at your product and services, how they will be affected, determine which ones are more likely to decline in sell but can flourish after and which ones will be stable during and after. That's where you should spend time and efforts. Of course, this all depends on your business, your goals and customers base.
Change your messaging
Inform your existing customers, and reach out to potentials ones with a different message, because it's not about selling its about branding (forming a relationship with your customers). Your messaging should be empathetic and informative. if you do sell, sell essentials that you are sure are important to your customers or that there is an actual demand or purchase intent. Remember don't self promote too much, show that you care.
Employee data-oriented marketing.
Data-oriented digital marketing is a way of using data to make business and marketing decisions based on a collection of data on consumer behaviour from ads, blogs, sites visits, buying or consumer behaviour and social media. Data collected can tell you what service or product your customers are interested in.
This is useful, as it's easy to measure and adjust. During this pandemic people are still interested in products and goods, they have more time on their hands. And if you can provide information about your products, or educate them about how your product can solve their problems. You may not sell now but you can get ROI later, this should be part of your branding strategy. There is a debit whether businesses should concentrate on branding or sells. I would choose the former, though I can't ignore the fact that selling is important because you still need to make money. The goal here is to do both or sell with a conscious.
Cause consistency is important even in these times
Data allows you to send targeted emails to customers who have the highest purchase intent. A purchase intent can be when a customer clicks on the contact page or goes to the checkout page but the do not go through, you can send targeted emails or push notifications with a promotion or and an article that gives them more information about the product or why your services are the best choice. Two things to consider.
- what's does your marketing data say
- what products are the most sort after and what can you do to be consistent with delivery
Bring Your offline business online.
If your business is brick and motor-based, or offline, try to bring it online, make sells online and other business processes. Use social media or get a website/web app custom developed to suit your needs, this can be a start of a new business model to combine both online and offline strategies. Because you cannot wait for things to be normal, if your business can stand till when that happens, then you are one of the few. But most businesses can't wait that long
Learn To Adapt
To expand on the previous point, you need to learn to adapt, understand that this crisis may take longer than accepted or desired, as said before, your business can not wait longer than that. We don't know when this will end, though end it will, the best is to learn how to keep the business running and adapt to the new normal.
Most businesses have their offices closed and some are reducing how many workers can report to work, automating some of your business processes can help you still maintain the level of efficiency and operations, reduce consist and still provide services to your customers
So, if there is any part of your business that can be automated then this is the time to make the transition. This may require you to develop a new business model or adjust the already existing one, transitioning may help your business.
In summary, i would say that things are hard and uncertain world is plunging into a recession and Africa is facing some major set back in its economic progress, that should not stop you from marketing. Those that continue marketing and promoting their business in times like this, if they can, that still thrive and gain more customers when all is said and done.
Continue marketing and providing value to your customers.
At Pathwise Media we use data-oriented marketing and relationship marketing to help your business grow and be visible to your targeted customers. We give free online marketing audit, fill out the contact form Pathwise Media Contact and we will help you with your online marketing.