We often hear businesses say things like 'marketing is a nice to have, but not essential' or words similar. In very few cases that is true but for brands looking to grow, strong ongoing marketing strategies are critical.
Blue-Chip brands and others including DFS, McDonalds, Loréal etc continue to spend millions on marketing, they never switch off. I'm sure if I asked you 'which sofa company offers 4 years interest free credit', you could tell me.
Marketing is an Engine, not a switch
I've often paralleled marketing to running a marathon, but perhaps a better analogy is to think of marketing as an engine in a car.
Yes a car will run downhill without an engine but as soon as you hit an uphill challenge, as your business will in a pandemic, your car will be less effective without an engine.
Marketing is an engine that starts slowly and builds momentum the more you put your foot on the gas.The more you add fuel, the more momentum you gain, the more momentum you gain, the faster and more efficient your marketing engine becomes.
If you suddenly grind to a halt, or switch it off, when you are ready to restart, you have to start at the very beginning by cranking your engine over again. You will have to begin the job of building momentum from the very beginning.
You will also have to re-earn loyalty from your audience if they haven't heard from you in a while and have switched to competitors. You will have to rebuild trust and authority from the beginning too.
You may also have to re-gain SEO (search engine optimisation) rankings because whilst you were switched off, your competitors kept the engine running.
In times of crisis, rather than halt marketing, you are better off maintaining or increasing marketing efforts so you are running strong when the storm passes.
© Image by Steve Johnson
More people on social media than ever right now
A reason for maintaining presence right now, during this pandemic, is that audiences are potentially locked down at home and are more engaged on social media, websites and inboxes than they have ever been.
Whilst lots of companies are switching off, we've noticed really cool campaigns from companies who understand the importance of marketing, even in a crisis.
They are maintaining presence, nurturing contacts and boosting knowledge with;
- Distance learning programs
- Product Training programs
- Fun Competitions (used to build audiences)
Believe it or not, pandemics appear to be a great time to build online audiences.
I've personally seen a Facebook Group ' Rock the Lockdown' grow from 2,000 users to 300,000 users in a matter of days.
I've also entered a competition on social media from a professional microphone manufacturer. This is something I have never even considered previously. I've even signed up for their e-newsletter because they pitched it at exactly the right time with the right message and content.
Well done DPA Microphones - great job btw.
During a crisis people look for hope and inspiration. They also look for voices of authority much more than they do during 'normal' times when they are otherwise busy.
This means right now there are opportunities for brands to become a voice of authority in their sectors
It doesn't matter if you are B2B or B2c, people are looking to organisations they can trust.
Here's an example of continuing to market your brand in a crisis that we've personally benefitted from in the last few days.
Our company accountants are issuing 'Daily Covid-19 updates' to help businesses understand how they can get through these challenging times.
At a very personal level my feelings of positivity towards them as a company have dramatically increased and yesterday when catastrophising about our business challenges, Andrew our accountant called to offer words of reassurance.
Which has built more loyalty to them as a company.
So brilliant job again ABG Accountancy.
© Image by Austin Distel
A time to increase market share
Businesses that are not lean or agile may suffer most during a crisis or pandemic. It's likely there will be a slowdown or recession and for how long we don't know, but....
It is also likely your competitors may be thinking of cutting back too, which becomes your opportunity to gain ground. Large organisations including Amazon, Coca-Cola, Kellogs to name a few, view slow-downs as opportunities to increase market share over competition.
An article from Forbes actually spells it out quite clearly and here we've indicated the most salient points;
"...there have been a number of studies going back nearly one century that point out the advantages of maintaining or even increasing ad budgets during a weaker economy.
Those advertisers that maintained or grew their ad spending increased sales and market share during the recession and afterwards."
There are several reasons to advertise during a slowdown.
The “noise level” in a brand’s product category can drop when competitors cut back on their ad spend. It also allows for advertisers to re-position a brand or introduce a new product.
Brands can project to consumers the image of corporate stability during challenging times.
The cost of advertising drops during recessions. The lower rates create a “buyer’s market” for brands.
Studies have shown that direct mail advertising, which can provide greater short-term sales growth, increases during a recession.
When marketers cut back on their ad spending, the brand loses its “share of mind” with consumers, with the potential of losing current – and possibly future – sales.
An increase in “share of voice” typically leads to in an increase in “share of market.” An increase in market share results, with an increase in profits
Businesses re-invent themselves
Of course it is all about being relevant. During a pandemic this becomes even more critical. Many businesses are pivoting in very creative ways to increase relevance. Digital businesses like Zoom are thriving.
However, the current crisis has highlighted businesses are not as digital as they should be and consequently they find themselves frantically building digital resources to be more resilient and relevant in the future.
Conversely, smarter businesses are already 'natively digital and mobile'.
By adding AI, Live Chat, digital diaries and smart email routing, customer service teams are work remotely but staying in touch with Vidyard / Zoom meetings.
One of the best examples I have experienced first hand has been Butternut Box, the freshly prepared and tailored dog food supplier.
Butternut Box's customer service teams are excellent.
They are obviously using a centralised CRM, their knowledge of us and our dog Ora are always on point and every communication is completely personalised.
The staff at Butternut Box, although working from home, have instant access to customer account details, order information and prove to always be helpful and friendly. This personalised approach adds confidence and builds loyalty on our part.
Switch Off or Switch On?
I am not underestimating this pandemic right now or the effects it will have on business.
The question though is, at a time of crisis, should your business be switching off or switching on marketing efforts and getting smarter digitally?
What are your competitors doing?
Get in Touch:
Perhaps we can help you Switch On?
© main image by Rodion Kutsaev