The importance of marketing during a crisis

Victorian Sliders’ group managing director Andy Jones explains the vital role marketing plays in a long-term approach to business, and why in challenging times it’s more important than ever.

Over the last year, we’ve all had to make changes to adapt to a strange, unpredictable, rapidly developing situation. But at Victorian Sliders, our commitment to marketing hasn’t wavered.

I believe that the principles of good marketing are timeless and, in times of crisis, they become more relevant, not less.

Unfortunately, that’s not something every business grasps. In every recession, you see firms make the knee-jerk reaction to turn off the marketing tap completely, something which, in the long run, is utterly self-defeating.

They might save some money in the short term, and it could be months before they start to notice any negative impact at all.

But by the next year, they’re struggling. Leads start to dry up, they lose ground to their competitors and, when the crisis is over, they find themselves in a much weaker, more vulnerable position as a result.

Despite the massive disruptions coronavirus has brought, we’ve kept going with all our usual marketing activity.

Even when the industry was forced to shut down almost completely during the first national lockdown, we knew that it’s the businesses that maintain a strong marketing presence that are at the front of the queue when normality returns. And, as we all experienced, the industry came back to one of the busiest periods in its history.

That’s not to say we didn’t slightly shift emphasis. In our PR activity, we focused on reassuring customers that we were remaining open, complying with government guidance and striving to offer the best service possible in very trying circumstances.

We’ve used email marketing for a number of years, but that took on a renewed importance as a way of communicating updates and changes to our 3,000 customers around the country.

Social media served a similar role, particularly as the face-to-face meetings that have been fenestration’s bread and butter for decades became much more difficult.

In times like these, platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter become vital bulletin boards for keeping customers updated, as well as reassuring them you’re still there to support them through challenging circumstances.

One notable thing that’s emerged over the last year is a large rise in the number of homeowners we’ve had contacting us.

Victorian Sliders is a trade-only business – and always will be – but this has led us to reconsider whether we should be doing more to appeal to consumers, too.

Ultimately, homeowners buying windows drive the whole industry, and if we can grow public awareness of EcoSlide, that’s great for our installer customers, and great for us, too.

2020 was, despite the enormous challenges posed by the pandemic, one of the most successful British fenestration has ever seen.

We’re expecting 2021 to be very positive, too. We suspect trade won’t be quite as stratospheric as it was during the second half of 2020: it’s likely people will have competing demands on their income as the economy starts to re-open, and a lot hinges on when foreign holidays become feasible.

But regardless of how the year turns out, marketing will be, as it’s always been, an integral part of our strategy moving forward.