Marketing during uncertain times

Almost 300 business leaders recently attended a ‘Marketing in Uncertain Times’ webinar that provided advice on how to navigate the current coronavirus crisis. Here, the webinar’s host and founder of Purplex Marketing, Insight Data and the Glazing Summit Andrew Scott, talks about the five strategies contained within it, and how they will be just as vital when businesses open their doors again.

One of the questions I’ve been asked during this incredibly tough time is what companies should be doing about their marketing, the messages they should be putting out, and how they should manage their marketing budget.

Some companies have adopted a radio silence approach, but this is completely wrong. Your customers are also feeling uncertain and they need to know how you are reacting to the crisis. Staying visible is paramount at this time, while adapting your marketing strategy will be essential going forward.

During my webinar, I outlined five key strategies that business owners, directors and marketing teams should be doing right now.

There are five types of business responses during uncertain times:

  • The ostrich, with their head in the sand in the hope it will go away.
  • The victim, who feels sorry for themselves and blames everyone else.
  • The retreater, who knee-jerks and scales back the business.
  • The cheerleader, who thinks everything will be fine.
  • And the pilot, who is pragmatic, decisive and sees the whole picture.

Now is the time for you to be a pilot. Having a clear strategic view on where you want to be, how you are going to get there, and taking the right steps quickly to maximise the results and minimise risk. Having the right crew and support team will help you reach your destination.

While you might have had to close your factory, showroom, and on-site activities, the customer-facing side of your business should be open; keeping in touch with your customers, responding to emails, dealing with enquiries, and handling quotes will help you build a sales pipeline so you are ready to go when the green light comes on.

And, with more time on their hands, people are more receptive to communications than ever before, so staying visible and sharing valuable information will be appreciated by your customers.

Rebuilding their business after the crisis subsides is on many people’s minds. There is a correlation between your share of voice (your marketing communications, advertising) and your share of the market. Companies who increase their share of voice will, over time, increase their share of the market.

As some competitors pull back on marketing activity, stepping up and remaining visible and active will help you win more market share.

Companies with a strong brand perform much better through uncertain times, with research suggesting they bounce back from a crisis around 18 months quicker than companies without little brand recognition.

In uncertain times, customer loyalty increases and we are more selective of where we spend our money and gravitate towards brands we know and trust.

The truth is uncertain times can provide a leveller as your competitors are also facing the same challenges. Cutting your marketing activity could be catastrophic for your business, employees and customers, while delaying activity may result in a much slower bounce-back, giving competitors an edge that is difficult to recover from.

The economic impact and fall-out from the coronavirus pandemic will be with us for the foreseeable future, so it is inevitable that your business will need to adjust. Reviewing your marketing strategy and working with the right partners will be critical.

There may be a silver lining. As consumers have spent weeks in lockdown, they have gained a new appreciation (or not) of their homes. Many will want to carry out improvements or add more space to their property.

Right now, your customers are online, researching, learning, and engaging with content – and they need to see that you are taking a prominent role as normal service starts to resume and its full steam ahead.

The companies that will recover fastest and win most market share over the next year will be those with a pilot’s view, who focus on their customers and their brand, and develop strong, effective marketing strategies.