Will your business survive or thrive?

Marketing, PR  and the Coronavirus

CORVID-19 will leave no business untouched.  Whether it’s rapidly changing levels of demand, supply chain issues, office closures or sales and marketing plans in chaos – every industry, every company will be affected.  

How a business chooses to respond will determine whether it dies, survives or thrives.  Adaption is going to be key.  

The communications landscape has shifted; many face-to-face events including exhibitions, trade shows and product launches have been cancelled along with all the associated PR and marketing opportunities.  Chances are, your audience’s mindset and behaviour has just drastically changed too.

Don’t bury your head in the sand, revisit your communications strategy and review your marketing plans now.

Changing mindsets

The vast majority of companies will fall into one of two camps:

  • Rapidly decreasing demand for products and services e.g. manufacturers, business hubs, stationary suppliers, consultancy services etc
  • Rapidly increasing demand for products and services e.g. professional cleaning services, business SaaS, hosting and server providers, chemical manufacturers (of disinfectants)

Whichever camp you fit into, where prospects spend their time, what grabs their attention, the challenges they face and concerns they have, will have changed.

For those facing decreasing demand, potential customers may have:

  • …become more risk averse
  • …reduced spending
  • …fears about the short-medium term

Where this is true for your customer base, double down on any of your marketing messages that highlight trust, dependability or reliability. If relevant, demonstrate your product or service is cost-effective or cost-saving or likely to increase revenue.

Sectors experiencing huge surges in demand face very different challenges – some maybe aiming to secure market share and ramping up their marketing and communications, others maybe struggling to meet demand and are facing supply-chain issues

Marketing to these businesses will need a different approach.  Messages showing you’re easy to work with, are able to react quickly and deliver your products or services at speed – are more likely to resonant.

I’d strongly recommend doing some primary research – call a few of your customers and find out how they are responding to the pandemic, what concerns they have, and how it is affecting their operations. Take that information, consider how it will impact on their emotions and motivations. Review how you can satisfy their needs and wants and adapt your marketing accordingly.

Changing  behaviours

Previously office-based employees will be increasingly working from home. This is a significant change in behaviour. 

  • Commuters who would normally travel by car may have more time in the mornings and evenings. Many will use this time online – browsing social media, for example.
  • With a crisis comes breaking news – more people will spend more time watching / listening / reading tuning into national, regional and local news.
  • With no bosses to look over their shoulder – there may also be more cheeky surfing during office hours.
  • In an effort to reduce likelihood of catching the virus, people are socialising less. Social media is likely to fill this void and become increasingly important.

Those who continue to work outside of the home will have very different challenge. If these people are your target audience, pick up the phone, drop them an email, join their online forums, and find out how the coronavirus is affecting them and what adjustments they’ve had to make.  This will give you the information you need to pivot your marketing.

With more people spending more time on the internet, and fewer opportunities to market in physical environments, online marketing and PR is going to become increasingly important.  

As more and more businesses re-allocate marketing budgets online, competition for attention in the digital space increases. Your content will need to work harder to grab and hold your customers’ attention.  Start thinking now about how you can create attention-grabbing visuals and/or move quickly and engage in real-time marketing.

Remember Google’s, Facebook’s and LinkedIn’s advertising models are based on bidding systems – if you are re-allocating budget here, it may prove increasingly expensive. The normal rules apply here – be very specific in your segmentation and targeting to keep costs down. Consider other sites that your audience might be spending time on – the website’s of industry publications, local or regional news, are just two examples.

Where you’ve got contact data, use it.  EDMs done well, are still an effective marketing tool.

Managing expectations

As social animals, our survival for thousands of years has depended on our ability to  pull together when it matters.

It’s really important to keep lines of communication open, even more so when you’re experiencing challenges.  If you’ve a mass transition from office working to working from home, for example, let customers know.  Most customers will be understanding.

Similarly where the supply chain is affected, manage expectations. Clearly communicate any changes customers will see or feel. While the situation may be far from ideal, handling it well can build trust and a solid foundation for a long-term relationship. 

Stay safe and well

I’m very conscious that there are things more important than work and business. Family, friends and health come top of that list.

Be kind to yourself and to others, follow the best-practice advice, wash your hands and avoid contact with others. 

I hope you and your loved ones stay safe and well.