The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major effect on all business sectors, but whether your business has suffered or benefited during lockdown, there are some valuable lessons to be learned that will in turn affect your marketing strategy…
Learning from lockdown
They say there’s always a silver lining, and while it might be hard to see one during a pandemic, it can give us an opportunity to take another look at our business. Now is a good time to find out what lockdown – an unprecedented period in the history of your business – and the pandemic may have taught us.
If you enjoyed our article in March entitled ‘Surviving now and planning for the future’, then this new blog should give you further useful insight. Being able to take away some lessons learned from this unusual time will help us to think about things differently and put a positive spin on what has undoubtedly been a tough year.
Undertaking this exercise now (post-lockdown) will be valuable. It may also be an exercise worth undertaking again, once we are out of a state of pandemic – perhaps when a vaccine is in place.
Taking a fresh look at a business is a useful tool for marketing plans – what was right for you before lockdown may not be right for you now. Re-evaluating how your business operates, who your customers are and what your goals are, will help you work out what you need from your marketing plan over the next few months. It should also help to identify any areas where you need to be careful, or where there may be risks to your business that were not present previously.
So many of us have spent the past few months chasing our tails, desperate to make sure we can keep our staff, make a profit, hold onto business. But now is the time to really take a good look at where you are as an organisation. Work out where you are within the business landscape. Perhaps you have had to change the way you operate, go online, find a new source of customers. What changes have there been that have affected your business – for example, has the trend for the way people approach you changed? If you are a retailer, do customers prefer to shop online, or email through an order? What has happened to your competitors – have they disappeared, changed the direction of their business, or become a major player?
These changes are going to alter the way in which you approach your marketing plan. If your customers have become more digitally aware during lockdown, your marketing will need to enter that arena as well. Maybe you have expanded your offering within the local area, as people took to supporting local business. Perhaps you should target local media outlets – newspapers, magazine and radio – to continue to appeal to this target audience? If competitors have fallen by the wayside, you need to think about ways to let their old clients know that you can step into the breach.
Many of us have thought of little else but cash flow recently, but we should also consider the wider financial implications. Will there be a future hike in tax to pay for the government assistance and furlough scheme during lockdown? How will you fare once the furlough scheme is completely wound down? How have people’s spending habits changed – and will this continue as some lose their jobs or have to take cuts to pay or hours worked. Will businesses be less willing to pay for your services, or want to pay less – or will they assign more value to them now?
Again, the issue must be addressed within your marketing plan. If people are going to be spending less, are you able to entice them with special offers or longer-term commitments that start off with a smaller initial investment. When we consider marketing, we always look at what your potential clients’ needs or problems are, and look at how you can help them solve a problem or fulfil a need. Has this change in economic circumstance changed their needs or problems? How can you help them with that? This is what your marketing needs to tell them.
The power of change
The world has certainly changed thanks to the pandemic. Lockdown has highlighted to many people how much money they can save – for instance, by making a small change such as not buying a coffee on the way to work every day, or a large saving on train fares! Whilst businesses have realised that they can allow staff to work from home and conduct meetings via Zoom or Microsoft Teams, saving money on offices, business travel and more. Many of us have come to appreciate the extra time we are able to spend at home with family or just doing the things we love when we don’t have to commute for two or three hours every day.
Look at how you can tap into this new psyche. Consider how your potential clients might be placing more value on family and home life over hours spent at work. How they might be continuing with new hobbies picked up during their time at home – crafts, art, fitness, reading, and home improvements. How can you communicate to them that you appreciate their new-found lifestyles, that you empathise with them, and are running your business along similar principles?
If your business continued operating during lockdown, or helped the community, making visors, contributing to charity drives, delivering to vulnerable customers – anything that showed your community spirit during what was a very tough time for many people – they will appreciate your efforts. And engaging and appealing to a potential customer’s emotions is never a bad thing!
Let’s get digital and local
Finally, the whole world seemed to go digital at the end of March 2020. Schools went online, setting lessons on Zoom and Google Classrooms; we all looked to the internet for fitness classes, with millions logging on to Joe Wicks’ daily PE class, and businesses took to video conferencing to keep their staff together even though they were separated.
Things may change if and when more people go back to the workplace, but for many, now that they have realised they can shop online and local, take classes online – in fact live much of their life online or locally – it will become a way of life. Your marketing should acknowledge this, targeting social media and online and local outlets, and providing digital options for communication and business to take place.
Remember though that to create a solid foundation from which to grow your business, you should be considering a variety of marketing activities across mixed media with an integrated campaign strategy.
If you would like to book time with APM to review your marketing plans post Covid, 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.