Businesses and consumers alike have been faced with an uphill battle in the past few months. COVID-19 restrictions and the subsequent economic fallout placed a vice on sales and spending power as many businesses were forced to close their doors in the interest of public safety.
In recent weeks, governments have started to ease restrictions–but that hasn’t made marketing decisions any easier. As things evolve, the question becomes a resounding “what now?”
In the face of uncertainty, it can be tempting to keep your marketing foot firmly on the brake. But right now is the most dangerous time to go dark. Lack of relevance now could mean reduced market share–or worse–in the future.
1. Your customers want information
As consumers return to some of their pre-pandemic activities, they will be reliant upon information to help them to make purchasing decisions. If your business or brand doesn’t offer up any info, how will potential customers know what you’re up to these days?
Even if your business is still completely closed, you should post an update on when you’re planning (or not planning) to open your doors. Remove uncertainty and let customers know that as things change, they’ll be able to rely on you to keep them in the know. If you stay silent, or are sluggish in posting new information, your customers will get frustrated and may look elsewhere for a solution to their problem.
2. If you don’t someone else will
If you’re not telling consumers what you have to offer them, they’ll likely hear from a competitor instead. Your silence is an opportunity for your competition.
Think in terms of what problems you can solve for consumers right now. Consider the customer journey, and get in front of potential customers before they go elsewhere. It’s a lot riskier to stay silent and lost customers to your competitors than it is to get out there with some enticing messaging. Whether the delivery is through paid media or earned, just get out there with something.
3. Reduced media noise means opportunity to stand out
On the flip side, your competitors’ silence is an opportunity for your business. Speak up, stand out, and capture market share.
How to stand out from the competition:
-Do your research. Look at what others are doing in your vertical, and in your location. What’s working, and what’s not? Should you march in the same direction, or go against the grain? There are a lot of factors to consider, but right now is the perfect time to put the successes or failures of others to work for you.
-Select media channels carefully. Consider the customer journey. Monitor usage, and make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck. Also, look for channels your competition has walked away from. Can you be the loudest voice there?
-Use messaging to break through. Can you stand out with clever or thought-provoking behavior? If the messaging from your competition all looks and sounds the same, maybe it’s time to break from the crowd. Figure out how to stand out without going off-brand. Be cautious if you must–just don’t be silent.
4. It’s the perfect time to build brand equity
In spite of working from home, child care duties, the stressful news cycle and other concerns, consumers haven’t stopped paying attention to marketing messages. In fact, some studies show that consumers are a more captive audience now than they were pre-pandemic.
Don’t let fear of the unknown grind your marketing to a halt. It’s easy to get caught up in the guessing game of trying to predict the future, but there are some evergreen marketing truths out there. One of those truths is that brand awareness WILL help you win out in the future.
The value of brand equity has weathered wars, health crises, economic fluctuations and all manner of other “uncertainties.” It’s important to find a way to communicate your brand story with current and potential customers, even if they can’t shop with you right now.
5. You need to stoke the fires of pent-up demand
If you’ve only been able to offer your consumers limited goods or services during this time, there’s likely some pent-up demand for whatever you’ve got.
Now is the perfect time to get people excited about your business. Remind your current consumers why they love your business. Showcase your goods and services on social. Tell a compelling story. If you do this effectively, people will be lining up to shop with you again once they’re able.
6. Pandemic or not, you need new customers
You know it’s important to retain your current clients. But what about new ones? It can seem daunting to think about gaining new customers right now, but getting new people to try your products or services is still a major key to the survival of your business.
Consider offering a discount or special to new customers, or a referral reward to your current clients. The current recession means that consumers might be more conscientious with their spending, and even a small discount or intro offer could be a tiebreak in your favor.
Again, the important thing is communication.
7. Minimalism is in
You don’t need a multi-million-dollar TV spot to tell your story. Start with strategy, set a realistic budget, and find a partner who can help bring your brand story to life within those parameters.
Pandemic-induced social distancing protocols forced even big brands like Walmart and Lowes to debut stripped-down ads with minimalist cast and crew. Smaller businesses can embrace this aesthetic with even more authenticity than these behemoth brands can.
Let the current restrictions work for you, instead of against you. All it takes is a little planning and creativity to turn these limitations into lemonade.