Marketing through a crisis
It’s fair to say that the arrival and unprecedented impact of Covid-19 has taken businesses by surprise, with a broad spectrum of positive and negative consequences felt across all sectors and industries.
For some organisations, demand will have spiked, and for others demand will have fallen through the floor, causing many to question how to proceed with their marketing strategies. While there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to advice, there are some key concepts that should be considered when marketing through a crisis.
React in the short-term and plan for the long-term
It’s easy to panic and make knee-jerk decisions in uncertain times, but it’s important to remember that you aren’t the only organisation facing the challenges brought about by the corona virus pandemic. Keep calm, assess the situation and prepare to be agile and flex your marketing plans. Getting it right at moments like this, can make a valuable difference to the future of your brand’s existence.
We often approach marketing with a short, medium and long-term focus. While this shouldn’t change, and planning for the long-term can’t be neglected, there’s more benefit to shifting attention onto short-term objectives, right now. It boils down to what can be changed quickly and easily to stay salient in consumers’ minds and mitigate risk.
Assess the performance of your active marketing channels and look at where activity can be pivoted to communicate contextually with your audiences. Social, content, paid, and other forms of digital promotion can be managed acutely and updated, informatively, to reflect the rapidly changing climate. Monitoring your media mix on an even more granular level, will allow you to manage budget even more effectively, too, which has never been more critical.
Keep it real with brand voice
Don’t be the brand that sticks their head in the sand and pretends this isn’t happening. Although it’s important to stay positive and market on, there can be no doubt that this situation has changed the way people want to hear from and be treated by brands.
It’s important to understand that consumers are feeling vulnerable and this should be recognised in the way that your brand talks and behaves. Take care not to be commercially exploitive, this is the time for your brand voice to convey empathy, foster transparency and to show humility. After all, we’re all in this together and your customers want reassurance that you’re still there for them and value a sense of community.
None of us have the answers to what’s next (when do we ever though, really?). So, without a crystal ball it’s important to keep an even closer eye on what’s trending to keep your brand relevant. Analysis (internally and externally), testing assumptions, and being able to react speedily is crucial.
Has there been a switch in which products and services are being sold to your customers? How can your brand provide solutions to the new problems that your consumers may be facing? Looking at sales and trends will help guide you on what products/services to support and to market in relation to current demand. Keeping your finger firmly on the pulse, will also help highlight operational/product diversification opportunities.
Re-evaluate the customer journey and decision-making process
With social distancing measures and lockdown in place, consumer behaviour has changed in a short space of time. It should, therefore, be a priority to re-evaluate the decision and purchasing journey of your audience. Use insight to gauge what is impacting and influencing decision-making processes within your market and respond accordingly. Take a look at your value proposition, is it still aligned with what your consumers need?
Now, more than ever, core values in all facets of your business will need to shine through. As we transition to a ‘new normal’, you must maintain quality and deliver the best experience possible to all stakeholders. With the right frequency, the right messages and the right mediums, you can help keep your brand current, valuable and top-of-mind.
One fact that remains in a crisis, is that marketing decisions should be driven by data. Don’t loose sight of the numbers and utilise all available insight aggregated from across your business.
Beyond the crisis
Acknowledge the lasting effects of the crisis. How will the accelerated forced lean towards digital shape marketing strategies in the long-term? What changes in customer behaviour will need to be addressed to ensure optimal future experiences? Look ahead, think realistically, understand the impact of this interruption on business as usual, and continue to apply learnings to determine how to move forward with your marketing plans.
If you can, keep your brand positioned as well as possible and push forward towards the light at the end of the tunnel. The brands that succeed by surviving or thriving, will be the ones that don’t abandon their marketing altogether, and who are robust enough to adapt.