These are extremely difficult times, and making it more difficult is that these are uncharted waters full of speculation, self-appointed experts and foreboding forecasts, leaving business owners unclear on what they should or shouldn’t be doing with their business. These are unprecedented times. Business owners are forced to make the decision to go all out and fight, stay passive and cut costs, pivot or repurpose the business or close down.
When it comes to marketing, this is usually the first thing on the list for budget cuts. For businesses who have , enough capital or cash flow to sustain the business for 6 months to a year, maintaining your brand presence is important. While a one-size-fits-all approach never works, there are some principles and concepts any business can apply during this current public-health, or any other, crisis.
We define short-term marketing in terms of one to three months, and this is where our current crisis is going to have the largest and most dramatic impact. Think about what the easiest marketing channels that are easily changeable, such as social media advertising, search engine ads, video ads and other types of digital promotion that can be closely monitored and adjusted as needed.
If you’re running a restaurant and you see your customer traffic dropping, you can either offer free delivery or provide your customers with easy to cook at home package meals or boxes. Remember to ask them to refer their friends so that both parties get a discount on their next order. Make sure you include the cost in your first order. Your social media advertising and search advertising, as well as website content and information, have to be quickly updated and even scaled up to help them during these difficult times. Be seen and be remembered. Target your existing customers. They are your best customers. Look for potential partners. Target fitness coaches to cross sell to customers who are health conscious or partner with telco, petrol stations, internet companies and banks. Businesses with their own apps that need to add merchants for their ewallets and what not.
If you’re an ecommerce brand and you’re noticing some product lines are dropping dramatically while others have remained neutral or slightly increased, try scaling back or pausing affected product line campaigns for the next 10-14 days, while scaling up the product lines that are still in high demand.
We define medium-term marketing as three to nine months. While the changes will not be as dramatic as in the short term, your business may require some strategy adjustments to succeed.
Evaluate the tactics you plan to use in the medium term, as well as your anticipated performance during this time period. Make sure your most critical product lines and services that will remain in demand during a brief downturn are the ones you are placing medium-term emphasis on. This is also a good time to focus on volume at a potentially lower ROI.
If your business can break even or be slightly profitable at a certain point, engage in as much advertising and marketing as you can to keep your volume up, even if in the medium term it means less profit. The goal during a crisis for any business is to stay alive.
We define long-term marketing as one to three years. As conditions and forecasts change, businesses should adapt their strategy accordingly, but for now most companies should hold tight and not make any dramatic changes that will hurt them in the long run.
In closing, use data and numbers to drive your decisions and, most importantly, don’t panic. Keep your business positioned as best as you possibly can during these trying times, and there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. And remember that your marketing can make a big difference between success and failure.