In the current unusual circumstances we are all facing at the moment, there has emerged five different types of business. A brief description of each is below and I think it’s clear which I think are good and those that aren’t. During the lockdown and the following weeks, the way your business is perceived is going to be very important to how your business performs, particularly once things return to normal (whatever the new normal is). These are our recommendations to ensure that your marketing means you come across in a positive manner.
We see the five different types of business as:
1. Those Taking Advantage
In any given situation, there are always businesses that will take advantage. You’ve heard stories of people selling toilet rolls and sanitiser at many times the normal cost. There are, of course, the cyber criminals who have increased efforts by 667% in March alone.
They are playing on peoples’ worries and fears. They know that people will pay inflated prices for what they think will allay their fears.
2. Those doing Nothing
Many businesses fit into this category, and it’s certainly understandable. They are worried about money. The money they have in the bank will only last so long, and they have no idea of how much money will be coming in. For some, events industry companies for example, their clients dried up overnight. For others, such as many types of retailer, government instructions have stopped customers buying. Their insurance may, or may not, cover their losses.
3. The services that are needed
In the same way there are companies who take advantage of a situation, there are others whose services or products are desperately needed. Companies selling exercise equipment are seeing sales spike, for example. These companies could hike prices, but they don’t. They accept the bonus trade and they do what they can to meet customer demand. They also know that this won’t last forever. They are giving back to society because they can.
4. Continuing as normal
This type of company knows they need to continue talking to their clients and their target audience. They understand that they need to continue communicating in order to maintain awareness for the future. However, they do something that isn’t great. They ignore the current climate and keep treating things as if they are normal. Perhaps they don’t want to admit issues. Perhaps they are trying to hide their concerns about the impact today’s situation will have on them.
5. Those who adapt
Companies can adapt in a number of ways in order to survive and make the best of the situation. The Portobello Road Gin Distillery is now making and bottling sanitiser for the Metropolitan Police. Ventrade is providing free vending machines for NHS locations in their area. These are just two examples.
Many food and drink producers are changing channels, going much more online. The Cronx is a local brewery to us, here in Croydon. Their bar is no longer open, but you can still enjoy their beer by buying online. A butcher local to our director’s home is now delivering instead of you going to him.
Others are adjusting their messaging to talk about how they can help clients with issues that they are facing now. This may mean simply changing some of the wording they use within their marketing. For others, it’s about using the skills they have within their business in different ways.
Which one are you?
How to make sure you come across well
1. Don’t just throw the words around
The importance of the NHS, care workers, retail staff and delivery drivers has come into stark relief over the last couple of weeks. People want to show that they recognise the work these groups are being made. However some are now talking about these groups in their social media and other content, simply to try and come across as caring. If you haven’t talked about them before, don’t go overboard on your support for them now. It runs the risk of being insincere.
2. It’s not about you
Your marketing content should rarely be about you, but never more so than now. If your marketing communications are talking about how you are contributing to society, make sure it is about the recipients of your help, not about you. Talk about how you are helping others.
3. Adapt, don’t change
Some companies can make radical changes to their business quickly, but they are few and far between. Whilst there is nothing wrong with making some changes, for example: how you communicate, if you make massive changes to your marketing messages, you will confuse your target audience and your network. Big changes have to be explained carefully and clearly.
4. Keep your focus
Just because your business is quiet at the moment, it doesn’t mean that you can suddenly deliver services to new sets of clients or customers. You run risk of alienating your current audience and confusing your network if you do.
Your target audience may not be buying much at the moment, but you need to ensure that your marketing really is showing the value you can deliver, to increase the chances of them buying in the near future.
5. Review your scheduled content
If you work ahead of time, so you have web content or social media posts scheduled to go out weeks, or even months, in advance, you need to review that content. You don’t want to be posting inappropriate content.
6. Don’t hike your prices
If you are lucky to be a high demand business at the moment, hiking your prices to take advantage of the situation is going to come across very negatively. You may make more money for a period of time, but it is likely that people will move away from you very quickly – as soon as one of your competitors is back trading.
7. Keep talking, but not too much
We get 1000’s of messages thrown at us every day. We can only absorb so many of those. If your company stops talking to your target audience, you run a real risk of being forgotten. Whilst people may not be buying right now, they will need your services at some point in the future. If you stop talking, the chances of them remembering you are slim.
However, don’t over communicate. If you are struggling, there is a real temptation to up the frequency, particularly via email or social media. If you do this, you are running a risk in two ways:
- You will annoy people with too much communication. You can easily come across as desperate.
- Too much communication suggests that you have plenty of time on your hands -and so cannot be much good.
8. Don’t sell
Don’t get me wrong, you have to still generate revenue for your business, but be mindful of the situation and peoples’ circumstances. People will buy from you, if you are selling what they really need right now. This may not be want you want to hear right now, but if you try and sell to people who really don’t want to buy now, you run a real risk of damaging your brand forever. Better to have a couple (hopefully) of quiet months than a quiet forever.
9. Be honest
When talking to people, be honest. If you’re struggling but your bravado means you claim things are good, people will expect you to behave as normal. That means paying bills, delivering on time etc. If you need some leeway or some help, you are far more likely to get it if you are honest.
We hope this has given you something to think about. Of course we are going to say you need to keep marketing through these uncertain times, but we want to make sure you’re doing it in a way that will improve your brand, not damage it. Keep safe!
Before we go, we just want to say thank you to Chantal at Panpathic. She’s has been really helpful with some of these tips. If you want to talk PR, she’s the lady we recommend!