Essential marketing activities during COVID-19
Updated: Jan 10
A checklist to keep your marketing on track during the pandemic
Most of us never thought we would be starting the new year with a national lockdown. The knee jerk reaction for many of us when our sales are heavily hit is to stop marketing. But if at all possible, please don't do this. You don't want to undo the work you've already done and the foundations you've got in place. Brands take a long time to establish and momentum is integral to long term success. According to the Harvard Business Review, during any type of downturn, customers typically fall into four groups: 1. Slam on the brakes - this audience has been hit hard financially and typically reduces all spending 2. Pained but patient - optimistic for the long term but concerned about short term spending 3. Comfortably well-off - confident about riding out the dip in the economy but more selective than usual with their spending 4. Live for today - unconcerned about savings and likely to continue as normal for as long as possible).
The need for brand marketing
Regardless of what group you fall into, brand marketing is more important than ever when we're in a crisis or recession. Your marketing objectives should shift from lead generation and conversation, to brand awareness, ensuring you're communicating your identity and values in a well-considered and emotive way. Continuity is fundamental to business success. You don't want to lose your brands share of voice. Brand awareness and engagement can take years to build, so don't undo all the good work you've already been doing. There is also evidence that businesses that increase their advertising budgets during a recession thrive. Mark Ritson from Marketing Week advises 'The best marketers will be upping, not cutting their budget'. He explains studies that show companies that increased their ad budgets during a recession grew sales much faster than their rivals – not only during the downturn but also beyond it demonstrating the need to increase, rather than decrease activity. Here is a checklist for small businesses to follow :
1. Continue with social media Keep engaging with your followers on social media. Almost all social media platforms saw an uplift in terms of usage during 2020 so this isn't a time to stop posting. You probably have changed the content you're posting and are now used to quickly adapting, but if time and budget are heavily restricted, make sure to maintain a minimum level of activity to keep it going. At the very least post twice a week. If you're stuck for content ideas this is a good time to leverage customer reviews, motivating quotes and curated content as well as behind the scene photographs. As long as you're authentic and transparent, social media can be a powerful medium for building trust.
The start of the new year is the perfect time to create a content calendar of the year, so you are not scrambling around each week for content to post. There are lots of free tools to help do this and this is guaranteed to save you time. Feel-good content that alleviates anxiety and promotes positive messaging will go a long way to enhancing your brand. This could be in the form of supporting and giving back to your local community and supporting other local businesses. 2. Protect your SEO
Online marketing is going to become even more important as we continue with remote working for the foreseeable future, so your online presence needs to take centre stage. Remember at the very least you want to protect your Google rankings. Make sure you have the foundations in place with some basic SEO – always start by ensuring your website is fully optimised. Search engine journal gives some fantastic tips of how to do this. Then move onto leveraging Google My Business. Don't underestimate the power of customer reviews on Google. Follow up with friendly customers and ask if they will kindly write a review for you.
3. Refresh old blogs
Blogging is an absolute must for any business. You can create short blog posts providing useful tips for your customers and you can post these on social media. Google loves fresh high quality content and regular blogging will go a long way to improve your search rankings.
Once you have built up a library of blogs, you can refresh old blog posts that contain evergreen content. Go through all your old blogs and make a list of the blogs you feel will be most relevant over the months ahead. You can give them a new lease of life with new headlines, images and quotes. Not only will this be useful for your customers, but it will also help massively with your search engine optimisation.
4. Communicate with your customers Don't fall into the trap of going radio silent with your customers or prospects. Continue to send regular communication to keep an open dialogue either by email or letter. Remember that as a general rule 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your loyal customers. Even if your business has been hit financially, it's your loyal customers who will be most likely to return. And loyal customers tend to spend more. Email marketing can be a highly cost-effective acquisition and retention tool with 59% people advising it impacted their purchasing decision. And now, more than ever, it's vital that you keep your customers abreast of any changes.
5. Update your website
Ensure your website contains the most up to date information with opening hours and contact details. You should also have a COVID-19 statement particularly if you are interacting with the general public and supplying products and services. Remove any products or services which you no longer able to offer.
If you have some downtime, then use this opportunity to refresh you website. Fresh imagery can bring a new lease of life to your site. Review all the content and copy too, ensuring it is completely up to date.
Keep your business moving
If you feel unsure of how to move forward, make sure you're communicating regularly with your customers and maintaining an open dialogue. Be the calm reassuring light by providing uplifting and hopeful content from a brand customers can trust to build deeper relationships with even longer lifetime value. Spend this time investing in your website and building your SEO to future proof your business. Combine this with regular blogging and sharing your skills and expertise and your customers and Google rankings will thank you for it. First and foremost keep your business moving, and you'll be in the best position to come back strong.
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