Following on from our previous blog (‘Marketing inspiration for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic’ including marketing tips and inspiration), the UK is, thankfully, now starting to ease out of coronavirus lockdown restrictions. However, with much uncertainty within the market still (when to bring staff out of furlough? how can businesses implement safe social distancing? when is it safe for businesses to be fully operational? when will the market return to ‘normal’?), it’s difficult for many businesses to know which direction to turn with their marketing during coronavirus lockdown easing.
I have come up with 6 essential marketing tips that are relevant to all businesses, suggesting marketing pointers whilst coronavirus lockdown starts to ease. Whatever your current situation, these marketing tips will help your business to be in the best ‘health’ moving forward:
Continue to Evaluate Your Marketing
Business since lockdown has changed, whether we like it or not. Our customers have had the time to evaluate what matters to them in business and in their personal lives. This means that our marketing needs to be in tune with new perceptions. According to this article in City AM, businesses will be held to account by all audiences.
This means that marketing spend and activities need to be justified more than ever before (not necessarily by cutting the budget, but by being more focused on the key objectives and scrutinising the allocation of where the budget goes). Now is a good time to evaluate your marketing plans and budgets going forward, together with imagery and language. Make sure they are still fit for purpose now that the landscape has changed.
Be More Flexible
With more employees working from home over the coronavirus lockdown period, this may change the way businesses continue to work. Already, there is talk in the PR world whether some of the top London PR agencies will still work from swanky offices with an enviable postcode (and hefty price tag to match). (Just to let you know that I work from a home-based office in Bournemouth, so that our operations are kept lean!).
This new way of working makes businesses question what is important, balanced with how to support teams. In the same way, how we communicate with customers has also changed. With face-to-face meetings not recently possible, zoom video calls, webinars and even online networking have become the ‘norm’. As we start to ease out of coronavirus lockdown measures, businesses need to be sensitive to how customers want to be communicated with, and offer more flexible solutions. For example, now is the ideal time to segment your email database, making email communications and updates more personal and tailored. Also, keep your social media updated with the latest details on how your business is prepared.
Get Your House in Order
Whilst there has been a big increase in online activity over the last few weeks, businesses should capitalise on this potential new audience by keeping their online profiles high, building up their databases so that they are ready to hit the button for their upcoming campaigns. Are your business social media profiles active with timely, relevant posts? Have you engaged with others’ social media posts by liking, sharing and commenting? Do you have a campaign to entice more people to sign up to your email newsletters? Are you keeping in touch with your existing customers throughout coronavirus lockdown with personal messages and relevant information? If not, there’s still time…
Take a look at this article, where brands such as Nike and DoubleTree have upped their content marketing investments to maintain and build relationships.
Tell Your Story
Some businesses have remained open during the coronavirus lockdown; others are experiencing difficulties with logistics or stock levels; whilst others have temporarily closed. It’s difficult to gauge the situation for every single business (unless they make it clear). Make your communication and content marketing a priority, keeping customers informed on the status, delivery times and more.
Visit Scotland, for example, has broken down a phased approach to their marketing efforts (Response, Reset, Restart, and Recovery), so that they are in a strong position to recover quickly once the situation eases and people can visit Scotland again. Take a look at their excellent, detailed document, transparently breaking down their story and marketing plans.
Concentrate on Digital Marketing
Many printed newspapers and magazines have been struggling over the past few weeks. Less consumers are able to buy them coupled with diminished advertising income. For example, Lonely Planet has recently stopped producing its magazines, whilst some other printed magazines are reducing their number of issues; one key trade publication I receive announced that it is combining its May/ June issues to help ease the situation.
So, with less printed publications available, consumers are turning to digital to keep up-to-date. Although social media engagement rates have been mixed, it is wise to focus on the quality of your posts and deliver value to your followers. This article on Forbes.com includes the virtues of video marketing, where ‘there’s an unprecedented opportunity to turn to video as a general means of customer engagement, communication and retention during the COVID-19 pandemic’. I recently attended an online video course by Georgina Ash from Grub Productions using your smartphone, which I would highly recommend. Whilst Google has shared ‘5 principles that guided their digital campaign in the wake of COVID-19’ – click here to take a look. So, digital marketing is key right now.
However, if you are going to do something new, make sure it works and you test it thoroughly. I attended an ambitious all-day business webinar via zoom with a myriad of break-out room sessions hosted by different speakers. I found it overly complicated. One person was overseeing all the admin. I decided to leave the session (after waiting to be admitted for 30 minutes!), feeling very annoyed. In my eyes, the company’s reputation was seriously dented.
Build on Your Community
It has been proven that brands that can build on their customers’ trust have been big winners over the last few weeks. Building on existing community spirit has been essential and reiterates how staying connected and finding ways to uplift is key. For example, with restaurants not being able to open up to diners yet, many have started up take-away or e-commerce offerings.
The Urban Beach Hotel in Bournemouth is no exception. I paid for an online order from their menu and I then received a text with an exact pick-up time slot together with the car park bay number. The food was then delivered to my car boot, minimising contact. The whole process was extremely efficient. I felt that a lot of thought had gone into it to make it as safe as possible for everyone. This sort of service keeps me part of their ‘community’. I will visit Urban Beach Hotel when restaurants are allowed to open up again. (The fish & chips were delicious by the way!)
So, my top marketing tips are to keep evaluating and communicating with your ‘community’ through your digital marketing platforms, including social media and email. Those businesses that do so will be in a much stronger position moving forward once commerce returns to (normality).
Written by Emma Estridge, Founder of Mushroom Marketing & PR. Contact me for a free 1 hour consultation.
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(Photo credits: unsplash)