Lockdown Marketing Lessons Learnt That Will Shape The Future for our Businesses
There are some really useful lockdown marketing lessons we can learn from the last 4 months. Following on from my previous blog (marketing whilst lockdown starts to ease), as I write, more businesses are now starting to come out of lockdown and are either bringing staff back into the fold from being furloughed, or are allowed to open up again (such as cinemas, pubs, restaurants and hairdressers). When delving into lockdown and the marketing lessons we can learn from this tricky time, I have observed several transitional phases over the past 4 months (although I understand that everyone might have a different version based on their own experiences)…
Lockdown Marketing Lessons: the 4 Phases
- Resignation and resilience
abiding by government rules, and whatever implications that meant for our business
- More time to think
being able to look at the bigger picture
after 3 months of lockdown, working from home and home-schooling, frustration starts to creep in
- Cautious Optimism
with more facilities now open, it’s a little easier to start getting back to the life we had before lockdown. There is a feeling of cautious optimism and trying to get businesses back on track
Within each of these phases, there are some really useful lockdown marketing lessons to be learnt, which will help shape our businesses in the future:
Complacency is not an option
As we now know, our business landscape can change at the drop of a hat. Even Tony Robbins’ famous quote
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten”
doesn’t apply any longer as it implies that our surroundings won’t change. However, I see it as a positive: we have to always think on our feet; keep up with the latest technology and thinking; and constantly review what is working in our business and change our marketing plan documents accordingly. It is also a stark reminder that buyers’ habits can change very quickly.
Look at our environment with fresh eyes
Over the last few months, we have been given an opportunity to look at our environment with fresh eyes. Some may have been able to take time out to look at the bigger picture and work out the priorities of our business.
Do we know what the true purpose is of our business? Has it changed in the last few months? Is there a mission statement? Now is an ideal time to revisit this, or to put one in place so that there is joined-up thinking from employees to suppliers, and the wider community.
Management of Reputation Remains Key
The reputation of organisations remains key at all times; perhaps even more so over the last few months than previously. Our time during lockdown has definitely highlighted those brands that ‘do’ rather than just ‘say’. Brands need to show evidence to back up their statements, to help maintain a good reputation.
You may have seen (in the International press!) images of Bournemouth’s ridiculously over-crowded beaches during 2 days of heat wave mid-lockdown. The council’s message came across as ‘you’re not welcome here now. Come back from 4th July when more facilities and services are open’.
As a Bournemouth-based resident and business owner, I was quite shocked to hear this message. Tourism is vital to Bournemouth’s economy; I think giving out the message that tourists aren’t welcome could perhaps be very damaging to future tourism opportunities.
I would have advised the council to open up all of the seafront toilet facilities and hand out free bin bags for people to leave their rubbish in (or take home), with the message ‘If you are coming to Bournemouth, please be respectful to our beaches and local residents. Keep 2m distance; take your litter home and park respectfully. We will have more facilities open from 4th July, so you will not get the full Bournemouth experience at the moment. Please come back and support us again from 4th July.’
Brands Need To Be Essential and Relevant
With so many COVID-19-related messages available to us, it has been difficult for company messages to cut through the noise. Messages need to be relevant to audiences and target markets. There are so many ways to test whether a message is working, from social media post responses to testing different website landing pages, to honing email campaigns. Working out company engagement benchmarks help to define whether messages result in worthy engagements.
One great example of keeping a brand essential during lockdown is from IKEA – even though the shops weren’t physically open during lockdown, this webpage provides relevant suggestions to “conquer the great indoors” (without a flat-pack instruction sheet in sight!)
Engage with Creativity
Like many others, I have taken some time over the past few months to ‘upskill’ and refresh knowledge in certain areas. I have then applied them to my own marketing. For example, I enrolled on some smartphone video courses and applied some new techniques to the short video introductions I include within my new monthly email series (click here if you would like to receive my emails). I have also changed various aspects of the business, from the tone of my website’s homepage text to targeting a new audience with amended Google Ads campaigns, and am pushing myself to try new tactics that would previously have been out of my comfort zone.
Going forward, we should be more open to learning new skills, applying new techniques to our marketing and being more creative – it will help to move our businesses forward, connect with new people and get the most from our budgets.
A great example of a creative marketing campaign during lockdown is from Fender (the guitar brand), with its ‘Artist Check-in’ initiative on platforms like YouTube and Instagram, which saw musicians such as Jonny Marr giving a virtual guitar lesson. What a great way to spend lockdown by honing a passion! Something we should continue to do in our businesses going forward.
Reach Out To The Wider Community
The phrase ‘we are stronger together’ has really come into its own. By teaming up with like-minded people and businesses, we can get our message out to a wider community. This could include inviting guest bloggers to write future posts; collaborating with other businesses on specific campaigns to extend reach; linking with relevant influencers to boost campaigns; or even creating a series of interviews with key industry people.
Did you hear about Gousto’s ‘Table for 1 Million’ campaign, bringing together the nation’s biggest virtual dinner party, hosted by Nick Grimshaw and other celebrities? Although it didn’t work out quite as expected(!), it did raise more than £40,000 for the Trussell Trust and there is a “very clear indicator that Gousto has built a passionate community”.
Consider the Welfare of Others
The last few months have definitely reminded us that considering each others’ welfare is of paramount importance. The Health Foundation suggests that “COVID-19 and the response to the pandemic, could have a significant impact on the nation’s mental health through increased exposure to stressors”. As a result, some companies have been setting up more internal structures to help with employees’ health and wellbeing, getting involved with volunteer work, or supporting charities that have experienced a COVID-19- related shortfall.
I am currently supporting a local charity with a national reach, CMT UK, and have pledged to run 7 lots of 5k (I’m not a natural runner!) – it’s a small gesture that when combined with the community’s efforts will go a long way to helping the charity’s shortfall appeal this year.
As a stark reality, Cancer Research UK estimates that “the coronavirus pandemic will impact up to 35% of its income this year” – this article explains how marketing is playing a crucial role within the charity going forward.
So, whether you are inspired by a virtual dinner party for 1 million people; sprucing up your at-home office; or looking to connect with other like-minded businesses, there are plenty of lockdown marketing lessons to be learnt. Which one(s) can you apply to your business?
Written by Emma Estridge, Founder of Mushroom Marketing & PR. Contact me for a free 1 hour consultation.
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