The old saying ‘the only thing that is predictable is unpredictability’ really sums up how everyone is coping these days. The coronavirus pandemic seems to have caught us all unprepared and unsure of how to move forward. With all the cancellations, postponements, delays, new restrictions, and general uncertainty, what is your company supposed to do now?
To ensure that your business survives the COVID pandemic and related economic fallout, you need to be strategic about your marketing efforts. User’s search queries have seen a drastic shift in the search engines now than ever before. From ‘virtual’, to ‘touchless’, to ‘remote’ services, nothing is as it was.
Right now is the time to think outside of the box and increase communication with your customers. Let’s take a closer look at how this concept can be put into practice for your business.
The ‘New Normal’ – Marketing Your Remote or Alternative Services
Think about how animals survive in the wild. Adaptations are physical or behavioral modifications that help overcome challenges. This may be the biggest challenge that your business is ever faced with; so, how are you going to change in order to make it out alive?
Where brick-and-mortar businesses are suffering, there is also opportunity. Some companies have started offering remote or virtual services, by increasing their marketing efforts for alternative services that already existed. We’re seeing everything from curbside pickup, delivery, and touch-free shopping for product sales. But there are also service solutions, such as curbside drop-off car repairs, remote auditing, online tutoring, streaming fitness workouts, and telemedicine. Some are even providing virtual funerals and church services.
“Find the digital version of whatever offline work you were doing. Conferences become webinars and sales meetings become Zooms, but you can get creative as well…to span the gap until the real world opens again,” says Alex Birkett, co-founder of the Omniscient Digital Marketing Agency.
We don’t know how long this period of stay-at-home orders and social distancing will last. Although some places across the globe have slowly loosened restrictions such as stay-at-home orders, however, social distancing is still in place. Adaptation will continue to be a necessary skill. Presenting your services that can be used now or which help other businesses pivot in their own way is crucial to ensuring business continuity during COVID-19 in the short-term. The solution will vary greatly depending on your industry.
Business Pivoting & Communication Brainstorming
Here are a few brainstorming starters about how your business can adapt:
- Is there a way to offer your core services without face-to-face contact with customers?
- Is there currently a unique need or demand that your business can address, even if that requires making a few changes in regular operations?
- What types of businesses are doing well in your area now? What part of this successful model can be replicated?
- Can your business provide services that support current trends, such as working from home (#WFH), increased awareness of sanitation and cleanliness, online learning, or social distancing practices?
COVID-19 Marketing Trends – The Dos and Don’ts
Once you’ve decided what your approach will be, in terms of service adaptation, during the coronavirus outbreak, it’s time to advertise it. Because what good is pivoting your business if nobody knows about it?
DON’T Put Marketing on Hold
Understandably, companies are suffering financially and looking to decrease expenses. It’s a common mistake to cut the marketing budget in times of economic downturn. Don’t make this mistake! Any hope of increasing business relies on your company’s ability to stay top-of-mind for customers and potentials.
We’ve already started seeing companies opt for cutting marketing efforts or putting them on hold. “But 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,” explains Marketing Guru, Neil Patel.
DO Take Advantage of Lower Competition for Keywords and Ad Space
As other companies slow or stop their advertising campaigns, the competition for space and target keywords is likely to decrease. Capitalize on this dip in the competition by looking for changes in the CPC for valuable keywords and adjusting PPC ad spend accordingly. This option is only suitable if funding is available, and if the resources are available then now is the time.
DO Focus on Marketing Retention During the COVID-19 Pandemic
While you shouldn’t stop marketing altogether, it is a good time to reassess the ROI of current efforts. Your company may need to decrease ad spending in the short-term, so it makes sense to get the most ‘bang for your buck’ for the marketing budget that remains. Consider refocusing marketing spend towards channels with a higher conversion rate and which provide the greatest level of exposure to your target audience.
One way to do this is through marketing retention strategies. Your existing customer base is a huge asset in times of economic recession, so look for ways to provide more value to the customers you already have. By converting them into repeat customers – who are likely to expand spending for related services in your offering and increase the frequency of spending – you maintain a solid economic foundation even when potential new customers are being conservative.
DON’T Use Scare Tactics
There is enough real fear and uncertainty in people’s lives these days. As marketers, we don’t need to get on the doom and gloom bandwagon too. Taking advantage of consumers emotional state or their wallets through scare tactics and price gauging will only tarnish your company’s reputation. This can also damage customer retention in the long run.
DO Infuse Marketing Efforts with Empathy
Approach communications with clients and potentials from a place of understanding. Before launching new campaigns, take a closer look at current marketing messages to ensure that they are not tone deaf to the pandemic situation. Then, for new campaigns, look at things from their perspective and focus messages around how your company cares for their wellbeing. Try to keep the tone positive and hopeful.
Next, consider offering loyal customers discounts for services they regularly rely on or providing creative solutions to challenges they face during/after the pandemic. This will demonstrate that you have their best interests in mind despite your company’s own difficulties.
DON’T Spam Your Customers and Potentials
Everyone’s inboxes are blowing up these days and you don’t want to add to that noise. Be sure that the marketing efforts made by your team are well-coordinated and intentional. Keep messages brief and to the point.
DO Stay in Contact with Customers and Potentials
While you don’t want to overwhelm anyone’s inbox, your company should let its audience know that it’s still around. Keeping in regular contact is important especially during times when consumers are changing their habits. Leverage your website, social media pages, blog, and email lists to reach out to customers and business partners and let them know how you are helping and supporting local activities.
Optimizing Your Company’s Website During COVID-19 Outbreak
One of your most precious platforms for communicating with customers and potentials – now more than ever – is your website. Use it to your advantage with continual updates and targeted content. Here are some quick tips:
- Clearly state that your company is still open for business.
- Inform clientele about if/how your business is operating differently during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Update business hours if they have changed.
- Warn customers if you anticipate delays for appointments, delivery, supplies, etc.
- Update contact information that may have changed due to stop-work orders and WFH operations.
- Outline any special precautions required, safety protocol implemented, new or limited service offerings, and remote or no-touch options.
- Call attention to loyalty programs, coupons, or promotions that customers can take advantage of now or in the near future.
These modifications can be easily made on a dedicated service page or by adding a banner that calls attention to service changes related to COVID-19. Platforms including Facebook and Google My Business also have temporary COVID-related notification features that your business should utilize.
Example of a website banner notifying clients of service changes due to COVID-19.
Example of a dedicated webpage about service changes due to COVID-19.
Example of how users see this type of temporary service page in search results.
Example of settings for Facebook’s temporary notification feature.
COVID-19 Marketing Support – SearchActions Is Here for You
Let’s discuss how your business can approach this challenging time and build a successful marketing strategy. Contact SearchActions for friendly assistance and practical advice.