Market your way out of COVID-19

In the wake of COVID-19, we’re seeing two distinct shifts in marketing efforts; for some companies the marketing team has become paralysed, for others they have galvanised the situation to their advantage and are thriving. In some instances, we are seeing marketing budgets cut drastically or even the entire marketing team made redundant, but in other cases there has been a sharp turn towards agility and responsiveness with interesting ways of engaging their audience.

One thing is for sure, you cannot stay idle for long. Being conservative in your decisions and risk taking may feel the safe choice when there’s huge uncertainty about how long the crisis will last, but you have to balance financial responsibility with keeping consumers informed and engaged, and your brand a focal point.

Our advice at Free Your Ostrich Ltd, in line with many long-term studies is that the right approach during economic uncertainty is to increase, not to decrease your marketing spend. The last thing you want is to be on the back foot when the economy revs up again. In general, consumers are receptive to marketing during these times and many find it reassuring to hear from brands, with the companies who are engaging in community support proving the most popular.

When businesses approach us for advice on this subject, we say to move forward, and to keep investing in robust marketing, strategically and with clear goals in mind. Now is the time to look at the type of communications you use and whether they are suitable in the current climate. Using emotive language and showing empathy and consumer understanding will take you far. Invest time into researching your customers and uncover the emotions underlying their shifting attitudes and behaviours. Listen to your customers, engage with them, and hone your campaigns to respond to these insights. Give your marketing team the tools and resources they need to carry out market research and consumer insights. Enabling them to understand your customers and act based on timely information is key to navigating your way through this crisis.

It is even possible to create compelling campaigns that speak the realities of the pandemic, such as citing your employee heroes, or shining the light on community campaigns or plights in your local area, or areas you are keen to engage with. Now more than ever storytelling needs creativity with a huge dose of compassion. Your consumers need to feel they can trust you and that you can provide value to their lives. Authenticity is key.

Long pauses and silence can be hugely detrimental. If you haven’t reached out to your customers in the last month, now’s the time to do so. Your competitors may not have been so quiet.

It is unlikely that ‘normal’ will return as the government gradually removes the pandemic-induced restrictions and businesses begin to reopen. During months of lockdown and self-isolation we have all been writing a new future and behavioural patterns, purchasing tendencies, and trends will continue to change.

E-commerce and digital awareness have been propelled to the forefront of all activity, and clearly a stronger emphasis on digital channels is crucial for businesses to thrive. The near-total shutdown of travel and other current lockdown constraints have made local neighbourhoods more important, and as such, many community social-media pages and forums have been created to connect people with local volunteers and mutual-aid groups.

Businesses can reap benefits from localising their marketing by delivering different messages to different communities, using their existing retail footprint to support local businesses, sponsor community events/centres, select local charities to support, and research ways to support the community as it looks towards a new ‘normal’.

Invest time and resources in marketing. Free Your Ostrich Ltd offers marketing audits and can help you identify any gaps or ineffectiveness, and to create robust, multi-faceted marketing strategies and campaigns. We can also work with you on audience insights and effective communications and consumer engagement.

Get those feathers ruffling!

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