Where many businesses have translated lockdown into ‘shutdown’ by halting operations and cutting spend, others have worked hard to adapt, pivot and respond positively to this unprecedented period of change. This same divide is prevalent in attitudes towards marketing, where those who have used this opportunity to create and implement an effective strategy are more likely to emerge stronger as we return to business as usual.
With that in mind, what exactly should business owners consider when creating an effective marketing strategy during the pandemic? And what's likely to generate the best results during this difficult time? Mark Wright of Climb Online shares five strategies:
1. Keep going with what works
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, millions of business owners would have been looking at different ways in which to reduce their costs, cutting marketing spend as a result.
What’s most concerning here is that this decision would have been based on eliminating overhead as opposed to considering strategy or value. First and foremost, if your marketing activity was delivering good results, under no circumstances should it have been ‘paused’ even if sales started to slow.
Secondly, if you have already cut your marketing spend or are considering it, your competitors will be too. For the strategic business owner, this presents a real opportunity to not only build your brand awareness and maintain a sales pipeline but to also increase market share whilst your competitors are basically sleeping.
2. Demonstrate value
Many business owners are concerned that now is not the right time to invest in marketing, but as long as you have the right strategy, there is no time better.
More people than ever before will be spending more time online to read and engage with content, whether scrawling through social media platforms or trying to keep informed via news updates. For the majority of businesses, this presents a real opportunity to showcase value as a brand through informative and educational content, delivered through blogs, articles, social media and video.
For example, if you run an accountancy practice, you should focus on creating and publishing clear, consistent and valuable updates related to HMRC, tax deferrals and the furlough scheme to offer business owners valuable insights, whilst increasing your brand awareness amongst a relevant target audience.
The more value you deliver, the more likely your readers will think of you and your business the next time they require your product or services.
3. Maximize advertising opportunities
There's recently been a significant decline in advertising spend across social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, as well as Google, across several industries.
Many will perceive this sharp decline as a sign to not advertise, but in reality, it presents an opportunity to engage with target audiences, as your competitors are eliminated from the pecking order.
Although you will need to adapt your messaging to appeal to your target audiences, you also need to be strategic in your approach to ensure your brand does not appear inconsiderate and as though you are ‘profiteering’ from the coronavirus pandemic. Again, this comes back to delivering value.
4. Emerge stronger
Despite significant challenges, this period also presents real opportunity to evaluate your current website, brand positioning, online presence and wider marketing strategy.
It’s no secret that your website is your shop window, yet many businesses undervalue its importance. Review what works and what doesn’t and be decisive with change.
Where necessary, invest in a new website, work hard to hone your brand messaging and take the time to implement an effective and integrated marketing strategy, focused on delivering long-term results. Not only will you be able to hit the ground running as lockdown eases, but you will have a strong strategy in place sure to dominate your industry, just as your competitors will be re-opening their doors.
About the Author
Mark Wright is an award-winning, influential entrepreneur and self-taught digital marketing specialist, renowned for his success in winning BBC’s The Apprentice. He has gone on to develop one of the UK’s fastest growing digital marketing agencies, Climb Online, in partnership with Lord Sugar.