Only a few weeks ago, quarantine and social distancing would become the new norm for a large percentage of the population.
Stay-at-home and work from home will also become widely accepted because of the virus. Today, all this is the unusual world we are living in but companies are experiencing the most powerful impact of this all.
Quarantines and lockdown in almost every part of the world were spontaneous. This means businesses both small and medium barely got any time to prepare. Big companies with a well built IT infrastructure and disaster strategies in place were able to cope while others collapsed. However, now is the time for small and mid-sized businesses to prepare for the changing and more competitive business environment after the crises.
Owners of small or mid-sized businesses need to take several prudent steps in their marketing strategies to prepare for better days. Here are a few steps that businesses can look forward to in such uncertain times.
The lockdown has slowed down the world; businesses can utilize this time to strategically think about different ways to establish themselves in the market. This will help them to be top-of-mind of consumers once this crisis is over and they are ready to get on with life again. To do that, it is very pivotal for businesses to keep the brand image high. This is because once its image slows down for an extended period bringing it up again could be extremely challenging. Additionally, it will also be a huge disadvantage in terms of competition as competitors would have taken a different path.
Get started with a great digital marketing strategy if you are not already doing so. Having a plan and campaign ready can be of great advantage as digital media is faster, inexpensive, and more effective than any traditional media. Email and social media marketing campaigns can connect your targeted audience with a marketing message immediately. It can also be more affordable than traditional media as it requires only a fraction of the cost than a print campaign or TV ads.
Marketing assets include materials such as email campaigns, sales letters, brochures, blog posts, videos, images, print and digital ads, web infographics, signage, printed and e-brochures, presentations, and website content. For businesses that do not already have an inventory of marketing assets to date can utilize this time to do it. These assets can be utilized in various types of marketing campaigns such as traditional media sources, digital marketing techniques, and others.
Critically determine pieces and images that are the most effective and can be repurposed for different channels. Businesses can also determine how they can be used for different Call to Action. Furthermore, analyzing the message is also a crucial aspect as even the greatest companies can fail to connect with the right audience if the message is delivered in an uninspiring or unappealing way. This is why it can be useful to work with a niche-specific agency such as a doctor marketing company or an advertising agency that specializes in construction, for example. Great creativity makes your prospects look, think, and act.
This is a great opportunity to review your website, identify images and other information that needs to be updated, and also, fix other problems on the website. Spare some time to look at competitor websites and try to understand if there is more imagery, information, or an FAQ section that should be added. Businesses can also choose to determine if they require a new site altogether. This time can help them get everything ready for the next stage of business.
Businesses that do not have much social media presence now have the chance to start using these tools. Posting on social media or blogging can prove to be good marketing strategies particularly for businesses with tight marketing budgets.
Businesses can utilize this time to record good videos and make plans for videos that can be posted on social media later. These videos are great for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and can be used as a basis for other content. Such videos can be similar to traditional videos or can be made using Zoom or Microsoft Teams or Google Meet to conduct video calls of customers and employees about their experiences. They can also share their knowledge of your company, products and services, the industry, and its culture. These videos can prove to be of great value in the following months for social content.
Make marketing a team effort by conducting Zoom calls with people from different backgrounds and positions. Take time to brainstorm ideas, take, and listen to suggestions, implement new operating procedures, and other valuable modifications. Businesses can also bring outside experts for a fresh viewpoint if they want to bring a different perspective. This will complement what you are doing which can ultimately help achieve bigger things.
Business at this time can also refine and formulate procedures for answering online reviews. They can write a few thoughtful template responses which can then be learned by a member of a team for brand messaging. This will enable them to manage their online reviews and provide them with the tools to get alerts and monitor reviews. It will also teach them when to escalate legitimate issues and how to respond to negative reviews. Customer testimonials on the other hand, can prove to be an effective way of growing your business.
During these times, analytics and sales/lead data can prove to be a great tool for businesses. They can take a deep dive to understand what they know about their customers? Prospects that did not pick their company? They can also compare and determine online and offline trends that can change now that you did not have time to do in the past.
This can also prove to be a great time for businesses to complete their brand photo and video shoot as things are not busy. Additionally, this can prove to be very good for business as the market has slowed for photographers and videographers. Hence, they can get good artists at a great price and also help them at a time when they may need the work.
Businesses should consider an outreach strategy and reach out to customers. Brand and customer relationships have become more crucial than ever during the COVID-19 crisis. This strategy depends on several criteria such as type of business, the purpose of the communication, and existing relationships with customers.
If a brand already has a strategy in place where customers hear from the brand regularly by email, SMS (text) messaging, or social media they should not let relationships drop off. However, brands need to be careful with their messaging to avoid crisis-related promotions. Businesses can focus on offering social connections, tangible assistance, reassurance, or other things that can be helpful to the audience.
Businesses need to take a proactive approach to their respective industries. They need to stand-up and start working on strategies rather than thinking about what will happen after 6 months. Businesses should take steps now to best prepare themselves for the better days ahead.
Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo! News and Influencive. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.