We’ve hit troubling times – the coronavirus has created havoc for Australians personally, but also professionally.
Unfortunately, many businesses won’t make it through these challenging times.
We’re not writing this to frighten you. No doubt you already know the potential consequences of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the economy and businesses.
We wanted to encourage business leaders and owners to take the time to think differently.
After all, it’s often through adversity that the greatest ideas and innovations are formed.
Challenges such as the COVID-19 outbreak present an opportunity for you to get creative about the way you conduct business.
It’s your chance to evolve. To find new ways to service your clients that bring real value to their lives. And to demonstrate your values.
To deliver customer service in new ways by embracing technology. And to revamp your marketing approach to cater to the environment today, while protecting your business in the future.
And that’s what we’re focusing on at the moment.
Yes we’re in times of worry and uncertainty, but what can we do differently?
Many of our clients and associates have been proactive in protecting the safety of their staff by closing workplaces or implementing new practices that reduce risk of infection.
Virtual meetings, and working from home have become an everyday occurrence for our clients and for us (and we’ve met many of our client’s furry friends through the process). Medical professionals and other service providers are conducting appointments digitally to practice social isolation and to help flatten the curve. And recruitment agencies are still filling available positions, but have embraced the virtual world to provide support to business owners and undertake the same rigorous recruitment processes.
It’s business as usual for many (including the team at The Marketing GP), but they’ve reinvented the way they service their clients.
We heard the phrase ‘it’s business as unusual’ recently and we’re adopting it!
Whilst the hospitality industry is one of the hardest hit, they’ve also evolved to lessen the impact.
Restaurants that are traditionally dine-in have introduced new takeaway menus to allow people to still enjoy their food, while participating in social distancing habits. Some local restaurants and cafes have even restructured their table layout to ensure there is a 1.5m gap between diners. And some pubs and bars have introduced central hand washing stations, so patrons can keep their hands clean between cocktails or beers.
We commend those who have already put practices into place that will help them get through these challenging times.
At a time when consumers are questioning everything and being more careful with their finances and supplies, now is not the time to forget about your brand or ditch your values. Marketing should remain at the forefront if you want your business to survive beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
However, this is a time when you need to reinvent your approach. It’s a time to really think about and stay true to your values and to tap into one very important human emotion that we’re all searching for – empathy.
Here’s five things you can do to support your brand and business through the COVID-19 outbreak.
Trust is a big factor here!
Encourage your staff to work from home or provide flexibility that will help ensure their safety and alleviate concerns. The team at The Marketing GP has always embraced a flexible working environment and our staff have the ability to select their hours and work from wherever they choose. If you haven’t adapted a flexible workplace approach previously, now is your chance. Just make sure you have objectives and systems in place to ensure your business continues to operate at its best.
If you do take action, tell people. It will help position your business as forward-thinking, which will do wonders for respect for your brand. Therefore, it’s important to communicate your changes to your customers and prospects.
Now is your chance to step up as the leader in your industry!
Think about how technology can support your business. Can you implement home delivery services to counter a shrinking physical presence in your stores? Could you offer your services online rather than face-to-face? Can you provide workshops or performances through paid live streaming services?
It’s time to pivot the way that you do things, and then tell the world through your marketing channels that you have found new ways to continue to provide the same level of service and value to your customers.
And just think about it – with more people at home, they will be spending more time consuming media, in particular social media. Make sure you’re not exploiting the situation, but rather, work to embrace it. Offer content of value, or that will distract and bring a smile to someone’s face.
Do you have a crisis communication plan in place? If you don’t, it’s time to think about one!
Whilst we hope a significant crisis does not occur during what is already a challenging time, it is absolutely vital that you do consider the worst scenario and plan for it. What messaging and action will you take should a member of your team or a customer be diagnosed with coronavirus? What do you need to consider for your business to operate should there be a quarantine?
And what messaging do you need to share with your customers should you need to close your doors?
These are difficult questions to face, but now is the time to answer them.
Remember, this virus will pass! At some point we will see people return to their favourite cafes and shop at their preferred stores. They’ll make appointments with their local beauticians and return to their workplaces.
The smart play is to keep your marketing budget in place and in action, because the cost to your business of ditching your brand and then trying to reignite it later will be significantly larger.
It’s amazing how businesses can actually build great brands through challenges like this.
Your ability to build equity in your industry comes down to your capability to think outside of the square, put your values at the forefront of what you do and to provide real value to your customers.
This is the time to be focusing on brand awareness rather than conversions. It doesn’t mean you need to forget about conversions. But, you need to understand that for a little while the conversion rates for all business are going to be very different. Like we said, it’s business unusual.
One movement you’ve likely noticed is businesses offering a portion of their services/programs for a discounted fee or for free. (Check out our online marketing course, for small businesses, which is currently being offered for free). Online fitness program providers, nutritionists and businesses that offer a course have provided these to help others get through the difficult time. Newspapers are removing their paywall, to ensure the public can be informed about the latest information in relation to COVID-19.
Whilst no doubt they’ve done this out of their good heart, this strategy also presents an opportunity for them to grow loyalty around their brand and expand their community. As a long-term marketing activity, this is a genius way to give back, whilst also supporting your business in the future by growing your database and taking your customers on a meaningful journey.
Most importantly, whilst we do need to isolate ourselves physically, this is not the time to isolate from the community. Our ability to get through challenges like these comes with the strength of our community.
And there’s no denying that the Australian community are strong! Let’s do our bit to support one another.
The key learning for you to takeaway is the time to focus on your marketing and your brand is now. It seems counter-intuitive (particularly when buying cycles are out of whack and conversation rates don’t seem to make sense) but we need to remember that this time will pass. As Neil Patel says:
“What I’ve learned from going through two crashes (the dotcom crash in 2000 and the real estate crash in 2008) is that the best time to double down is when others are not. During an economic downturn, you’ll find that you will have less competition, which means it is easier and faster to get results, and in some cases, you’ll be able to get deals, such as a potential reduction in pay-per-click advertising.”