Having been in the creative industry for over 45 years, we’ve seen many ups and downs in the global economic landscape. After the 2008 recession, it took the UK economy five years to get back to the size it was previously. And with predictions expecting Coronavirus to take its toll, some companies will look to batten down the hatches – but that’s not how we see it.
It might feel out-of-place to discuss brand values and customer behaviour amid the current situation, but businesses need to plan to drive demand like never before.
So while you should, of course, be taking the safety precautions recommended by the World Health Organization and the NHS seriously, in terms of your business – it’s important to think long-term.
Here’s our advice on how to look after your brand and hit the ground running after the pandemic passes.
Whether you’re a housing contractor, a software developer or any type of SME, your initial thought might be to shut down marketing operations until further notice. But this knee-jerk reaction will bring future consequences. Lost relationships will be harder to build after a period of silence – we have to think long-term.
During periods of economic uncertainty it might be tempting to focus on short term sales, but customers are unlikely to be thinking about the next new product or service during the current climate. Instead, focus on brand-building and keeping your voice heard.
If your customers are used to hearing from you regularly, continue to build connections via email marketing campaigns, social media activity and customer or client contact. If you don’t keep the brand light burning or keep your social media content coming, it will be much harder to hit the ground running when the virus passes.
And whilst your competitors may be cutting their marketing activities and losing their share of voice, now is a rare opportunity for your business to come out of the crisis ahead of the competition. It’s time to build your brand and think long-term.
Plan for the future
As people change the way they’re working, you may have some time to allocate towards planning for the future.
If there’s anything on your to-do list that you haven’t had the time to complete yet, now’s the time to get it done. You could also use this time to:
1. Update your content inventory
Document your company’s blog posts, whitepapers, ebooks, presentations, infographics, articles, webpages and more. Evaluate this content critically – can you repurpose this content for any other channels? What kinds of content went well in terms of views, shares or likes? Are there any opportunities to refresh or update old content?
Consider the types of content you should promote and how you can adapt your strategy based on previous campaign results.
2. Plan advertising campaigns
Whilst now may not be a good time for your business to advertise, plan campaigns for the future.
Can you use Google Ads to promote any particular products or services? Use social media advertising to reach your target audience? Or place print ads in relevant industry magazines? Research what you can do to drive demand like never before.
3. Perform administrative tasks
In the fast-paced world of work, keeping your files in order might not always be a top priority. So now’s your chance – clean up your documents, delete what you don’t need, and think about your process and how it can be improved.
4. Perform a website audit
How can your website be improved to generate more leads? Could you create case studies to show off your results and persuade potential customers to work with you?
If you are planning to write evergreen blog posts, change website content or add new product pages to your website, now is a good time to get this content together.
5. Refine your strategy
Consider any customer analytics/sales data that you might have. What do your current customers have in common? Why did they pick a competitor over your business? How can you better refine your strategy? If your previous campaigns aren’t hitting the mark, now’s the time to find out why.
6. Try something different
If you have time to spare over the coming months, put your mind into learning something new that could help your business in the future. This could be anything from learning to use Google Ads, Adobe Creative Suite or your website CMS – if it can help your business succeed, it’s worth looking into.
Events are a great place to generate new leads, close deals with prospects and connect with current customers in person. But as social distancing initiatives come into force, industry events are becoming few and far between. So what can you do to curb the impact?
One solution is to turn towards the digital world. Virtual events are undoubtedly becoming more popular, with live streaming on platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter an option for presenting awards, discussing industry topics or joining a conversation.
Similarly, spending more time at home will drive potential customers towards digital forms of information and entertainment. So to ensure your audience is hearing from you regularly, get your shop online, increase the rate of messaging across email and social media, and make sure your website is up to date with your latest business information.
Our sister company Bloc Digital is also working with businesses and the local community to keep them connected as staff members begin to work from home. So for help with setting up remote operations, get in touch to see how they can help.
It’s important to remember the current situation is having a big impact on people’s lives across the globe, so you don’t want to introduce any marketing campaigns that appear to use coronavirus as a tool to drive sales. So with that in mind:
- Don’t act oblivious to the situation – if you have campaigns in progress that don’t fit the tone of the moment, rethink your strategy. For example, the clothing brand ASOS appeared to still be advertising ‘chainmail face masks’ to customers on Twitter.
- If you’re in a position to do so, do offer help and advice. The food chain Pret a Manger are currently offering free hot drinks to NHS staff to thank them for their efforts in tackling the virus.
- And if you’re not sure about your marketing messaging at this time, don’t take the risk.
Remember, the world is watching
Most businesses have a set of brand values they use to guide their marketing and day-to-day activities. These are the words the company tends to live by and should be adhered to even in times of intense pressure. But to the dismay of many customers, the coronavirus crisis is proving too much for some global brands.
Whilst the likes of Levi’s, Lush and Apple are reassuring employees that they will be paid even despite store closures, Virgin Atlantic has asked its 8,500 employees to take eight weeks unpaid leave.
Virgin have spent years defining their corporate brand values as ‘supportive’, ‘respectful’ and ‘proud’, and behaving as though their “employees come first”. But in the space of a few months this work has been undone – customers are now fully aware that employees come last at Virgin.
So the lesson is this – now’s the time to really make those brand values count. In the face of the coronavirus crisis, look after your brand as well as yourself, your family and your employees.
Focus on the future and outline what you can do to make sure your business hits the ground running after the pandemic passes. And if you need any additional advice, remember we’re here to help.