Adapting Your Marketing Strategy During COVID-19
A crisis can either make or break a marketing team’s success. In the wake of COVID-19, many businesses have reduced or cut their marketing budgets completely. However, if you want to thrive, you can not cut marketing out for long. As the world starts to open back up and look towards economic recovery, marketing becomes a critical part of that process, helping restore consumers’ faith in your business
Here’s how to revamp your organization’s marketing efforts in a way that connects and is beneficial to your customers.
Where to Start
Right now, many businesses are faced with the difficult challenge of where to invest revenue. Questions like, “Is it really worth spending on marketing for my business right now?” are not uncommon as many organizations were forced to shut down for several months.
The short answer is yes, now is the most optimal time to spend money on marketing and ensure your customers are hearing from you. Research suggests that in the long term the right approach during economic uncertainty is to increase — not decrease — your marketing spend. Also, some marketing channels are receiving more engagement during the pandemic than before as customers are seeking out resources and information in preparation for business’ reopening.
Aim to Give Back
Aim to give back in the short-term and your efforts will drive brand loyalty in the long-term.
Without realizing it, most organizations have the capacity to lend a helping hand in some way, big or small. Above all else, businesses should be asking themselves, “How can I help?”
The answer to helping as a business usually lies between your strengths and your customers’ needs. Evaluate how COVID-19 has reshaped your customers’ needs and desires, and then adapt services and products to address those critical needs.
Giving back can take many forms and should be rooted in your businesses’ willingness to go above and beyond for current customers, while also attracting new ones with offerings that address an immediate pain point. Sports apparel giant Nike is a prime example of a well-rooted campaign that creatively adapted its resources. When mandatory shelter-in-place order began, the sneaker empire opened up access to its fitness app for free to help consumers stay fit at home. Not only did the campaign come across as generous and thoughtful, but it’s what consumers will remember when they return to work and are looking for paid fitness resources in the future.
Consistent Communication Is Key
As tempting as it might be to wait out the storm and stay silent, there is a high risk in doing so. On the one hand, we aren’t sure how long ramifications of the pandemic will last. Experts have predicted social distancing may be necessary until 2022! That is way too long to put your marketing on hold.
Staying silent conveys a negative message and can cause customers to turn on you, or worse, completely forget about you. Consistent communication now helps to reassure customers and can create an opportunity for community-building.
Consistent communication can also help your brand connect and learn more about your customers’ changing attitudes. A recent survey conducted by Gartner’s Francis Russell found that CMOs who have deployed surveys on the impact of COVID-19 are seeing actionable responses that are helpful to understanding the human impact of the pandemic. Those insights can help guide your revamped marketing strategy and ensure communication is compassionate and understanding of where clients are at right now.
Change Is the New Black
Unprecedented times come with unprecedented consumer behavior. A study conducted by Entrepreneur Magazine and Accenture found that 76% of consumers have picked up new habits, routines, and behaviors while sheltering in place during COVID-19. Out of that, almost 90% said they plan to keep some of these new habits post-pandemic. It’s clear that customers are open to change, and it’s time to adapt our strategies to meet these needs.
Consumers are also opening up to new services and products as a result of the pandemic. Makes sense, if things are changing around you, why not change too? This makes for a wide window of opportunity to broaden the horizons of your marketing reach. Try a bit of A/B testing on your campaigns to gauge if there is a change in reception from new audiences and you may find that uncharted territory is friendlier than before.
Take Advantage of Declining Ad Prices
The price of paid advertisement has declined since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. This works with the pay-per-click algorithm. Big ad networks make money through an auction system. When more small businesses are advertising, it drives up the cost per click (CPC) causing billion-dollar corporations to have to spend more money on ads.
When fewer small businesses advertise, the competition for inventory is depleted, causing the CPC of advertising to decrease. Yet, the pandemic has increased the amount of time people spend online. Increased traffic on the web, with fewer advertisers, means ads are cheaper.
Stop Conversion Rates from Falling
Conversion rates have been dropping in many industries. Yet, there is a solution presented by Neil Patel that has boosted his client’s conversion rates by 12% on average during COVID-19.
If your business is selling anything online, consider offering payment plans through services such as Affirm and AfterPay. Payment plans can reduce the immediate financial burden for your customers and create a reoccurring revenue stream for your business. If you are a service provider or B2B company, you can accept money over a period of a year. This is an easy way to work around lower conversion rates in a time when people are lowering their short-term budgets.
The New Normal
Ladies and gentlemen, the effects of these times are here to stay. Even after the pandemic passes, we cannot return to the age-old marketing playbook. Our strategies and messaging must evolve to meet the realities of a post-COVID-19 world.
While it is important to stay empathetic and recognize the scary uncertainties to come, do not let fear stop you from marketing what your business has to offer. Enable your team to understand the changing landscape as well as your customers’ needs in order to act in a proactive manner.