It is one thing businesses, shops, pubs and restaurants re-opening, it’s another thing entirely persuading the mainstream population to visit them. Now is the time for your business to ‘show and tell’ and convince people that it is safe to venture out. So, as the world starts to get back to this new kind of normal, your marketing message will need to be reassuring and safety-conscious…
Show and Tell
As we endeavour to get back to ‘normal’ – with the majority of businesses getting the green light to reopen, we need to remember that for some people this new ‘normal’ may be quite stressful.
The most vulnerable have been stuck at home, perhaps in total isolation since March and venturing out will be scary for them. Even those not classed as vulnerable may be feeling anxious about their safety and that of their family.
Business owners, of course, want everything to get back to normal so they can bring staff out of furlough and start getting their profits up to a normal level – and of course Boris Johnson is now encouraging us to do exactly that. But, in order to do so, your customers, clients, staff and suppliers all need to be on board.
Recent results from Duke University’s most recent CMO survey details a positive outlook by the marketing function with 62% reporting an increased reliance on this area of the business during the pandemic, due to crucial customer communications, greater innovation, creativity and leveraging digital as a result of lockdown.
Clear and Simple
Of course, there are many differing views on how the future will play out, but one thing’s for sure, and that’s that communication is going to continue to be key. Customers and clients will want to be assured that the safety protocols your company has put in place are well thought out and will keep them safe – you will want to do everything in your power to help them feel confident and at ease coming into your shop or business; make it as easy as possible for them to do with business with you and don’t unnecessarily complicate an already difficult situation by not understanding or meeting their needs.
Your marketing message should be clear and simple, evidencing your protocols and policies and what is expected of your customers when they visit, ie, how and where they will enter, where the hand sanitisers are, if they have to follow a one-way system, how you will use and protect their data with any track and trace system. Whether you are B2C or B2B, a calm and concise message from you, making everything clear and simple will be hugely reassuring.
Look for ways you can demonstrate this in your communications, online via your website and social media, in advertisements and newsletters, and in posters when a physical presence is required. Make it clear that you are working in line with your local authority’s coronavirus guidelines and looking after your staff in line with best practice.
Trust and Transparency
The CMO survey notes that 80% of consumers think that businesses should be ‘doing good’ in some way. Marketing should not just affect your bottom line but consider the social and environmental effects too. At this time, it has never been more important to ensure that your communications are transparent and convey the caring attitude that your business has.
Trust is critical in any relationship and within business it is often more important than price, quality, and innovation. So, if consumers have signed up to your business’ long term strategy – for example with CSR (corporate social responsibility), environmental impact and sustainability – which have now been dropped in favour of short-term, opportunistic goals your brand may well suffer. Legitimacy and authenticity play a crucial role in gaining consumer’s trust and its worth taking a step back and considering whether it is right for your brand to dismiss this in favour of short-term wins.
If your business has pivoted and is operating differently from before, whether that’s continuing to work virtually or because you’re continuing to experience longer lead times from suppliers – then transparency is key. Be up front and tell it the way it is.
There has been a fantastic ‘Blitz’ spirit among communities, a feeling that we are all in this together, and you can use marketing to evidence that your business is part of that community too and that you will continue to do your utmost to supply a great service for it.
The way we shop may well have changed forever, and with the likelihood of a recession looming – well let’s be realistic, its already here – many consumers are curbing their spending, having learned what they can live without.
If you have pivoted your business, offering contact-free delivery, improved delivery times or even taken your whole business online, let customers know sooner rather than later what you will be doing moving forward.
Marketing is going to have to be clever to help to lure customers back. Engagement is going to be key to your marketing message especially with a client base watching its pennies now more than ever.
However, if there is one thing that lockdown has taught us – apart from the fact that we’re a resilient bunch – is that we can look to the world beyond our doorstep. Look at the many success stories both inside and outside of your industry and, if you missed any opportunities, look for them now. If you have been selling your goods or services in the local area, the marketing reach that online videoconferencing, streaming and the use of social media can afford you has shown that even the smallest business can become a global concern!
The businesses that have survived and thrived during this pandemic are the ones that have learned not to stand still, but to be agile. Your marketing strategies will need to follow suit.
The world-renowned Duke University’s CMO survey provides a crucial insight into the effect of Covid-19 on marketing strategy and budgets. You can listen to the key takeaways in this CIM podcast.
If you would like to have a chat about your marketing requirements, please call Alison Page on tel: 07963 002065 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can of course browse our website to see what our existing clients have to say about our work.