Businesses around the world are reeling from the effects of coronavirus lockdowns. In the space of just a few weeks marketing budgets have been slashed and many companies are feeling anxious about their financial futures. 

Yet should we all be feeling this way?..

With a good marketing strategy it’s possible to not only secure your company’s future but position it for success. 

Read on to find out how. 

The Challenge 

In times of crisis consumer buying patterns change significantly, which in turn requires an adjustment in a business’ marketing plan. Without a flexible marketing strategy a company will struggle to adjust to this changing environment and the risk of collapse or loss of market share is very real.

It can be difficult for firms to adapt to change, especially when it is sudden but for those that do there is a real opportunity to solidify and even grow your business. 

Unless you sell products and services to the ultra wealthy, it is highly likely consumer demand will decrease as customers reduce their consumption and seek cheaper deals. In response, businesses will often cut or slow their marketing spend, reduce production capacity, and lay off employees to try and shrink their costs.

The Opportunity

The evidence demonstrates that companies who view a crisis as an opportunity tend to do much better than those who don’t. It has been shown that those firms choosing to increase or maintain marketing spend will improve sales revenue and market share during and after a recession.

In short, during uncertain times, businesses should see advertising as an investment, not a cost.

The benefits of maintaining or increasing marketing spend during the coronavirus pandemic are multiple:

  • Due to lockdowns, consumers are at home browsing the internet for most of the day – a great opportunity to reach your target audience with paid adverts.
  • As your rivals reduce their marketing spend, advertising competition is lower and costs are cheaper. It’s likely your marketing budget will go further.
  • Consumers are actively looking for content to engage with during their time at home, meaning your content marketing efforts through blogs and videos are likely to reach a wider audience during lockdown.

History demonstrates that companies who make marketing investments during a financial downturn reap the benefits

During the Great Depression of the 1930’s, Kellogs heavily promoted their cereal products while their rivals stopped advertising. This strategy helped them to become the market leader. 

Another example is Airbnb who launched their initial low-cost model in the middle of the 2008 financial crisis. The company is now valued at $38 billion!

Retention Marketing

It is essential during the coronavirus crisis to make the retention of customers your primary marketing goal. Adding value for your existing customers is a great tactic that will positively affect business performance

Why?

A 5% increase in customer retention enhances profits by between 25% and 85%. The costs involved in retaining a customer are also much lower than the cost of acquiring a new customer.

Here are some retention marketing techniques that will provide value for your existing customers and build brand loyalty: 

  • Discount coupons and codes
  • Free samples or trials
  • Use informative marketing rather than pushy sales
  • Product payment holidays emphasise empathy
  • Sell smaller package sizes for less money 
  • Only promote exceptional deals
  • Create free webinars
  • Bundle free add-on products with your existing offerings

The main aim is to reward customers for their loyalty. 

Adjusting your business policies can also demonstrate empathy with consumers changing situation. Temporary measures such as waiving delivery charges or freezing membership fees will build customer trust and significantly reduce cancellations.

Remove the Deadwood

It also makes sense to review past results and put your analytics under the microscope. Spend time drilling down into where your past conversions have occurred:

  • Which age range and gender are your customers? 
  • Where are they based and which devices are they using?
  • How long are they spending on your website and which are their favourite pages?

Google and Facebook Analytics provide a real treasure trove of insights that are often missed or ignored when times are good and conversions are easy.

Now is the time to take a deep dive into the data and fill in the gaps of your target market knowledge. This data can then be used to inform your marketing strategy and get more advertising bang for your buck.

It may also be wise to drop products and services that have performed poorly and are unlikely to improve – concentrate on the products that drive income and set the marketing budget accordingly – aggressively increasing advertising spend may help to capture market share from your rivals and improve sign up rates while people are under lockdown.

Every Customer Matters

If there is one thing that businesses realise during a crisis it’s that customers really do matter and have the ability to make or break your company very, very quickly. With this in mind, take a look at your existing customer support systems – have you been taking them for granted? Is there room for improvement?

The brands that rank well for customer service tend to have impressive brand loyalty scores. If you haven’t already, now is an opportune time to develop an effective customer support system. 

Bulk up your support services by having a stand-alone Twitter support page, separate from your main brand page. Consider trialling a customer support suite to bring all social messages and enquiries into a single dashboard.

Above all, rethink the consumer-brand relationship and seek to improve the customer experience. It will stand you in a good position during and after the upcoming recession.

Summary

While reducing overall business expenditure may seem necessary during a crisis, ensure that any cuts are carefully thought out and not a knee-jerk reaction.

Cutting marketing spend will always reduce your income!

Instead adjust your marketing to the new environment – refine your targeting, change your content, and reward customers for their loyalty.

When the coronavirus crisis is over you will have an army of brand advocates and perhaps an enhanced market share.