Marketing in times of uncertainty

Marketing during uncertain times is never easy. And it’s fair to say the current Covid-19 pandemic is something none of us envisaged as we were putting together our 2020 plans.

I read a stat over the weekend which said that just 14% of campaigns are continuing ‘as planned’ and many marketing departments are facing significant budget cuts. 

Is this the answer? I’m not sure. When I look back to the global recession, 10+ years ago, it was those companies that didn’t go silent, who emerged from it the strongest. All businesses quite rightly need to reduce expenditure across ALL departments, but the key word there is reducing, rather than eliminating. So, how do you navigate a global pandemic paired with an impending recession? The answer will be different for every firm, but I thought I’d share some of the advice we’re giving our clients to navigate these uncertain times, to get them into a position to be competitive once normality resumes.  

Emotional connection is key

Maintaining an emotional connection to your clients is more important now than ever. Ensure they feel understood during this time by building on your established rapport with honest and considered communication. It’s important to acknowledge what’s happening in the world – generic content marketing and promotion of irrelevant services will come across as tone-deaf during the pandemic, giving the impression that you are unaware of their immediate needs. 

Offer support, reassurance and a sense of community during this incredibly isolating time by deploying content strategies that help your clients feel normal and connected.

Offer support, reassurance and a sense of community during this incredibly isolating time by deploying content strategies that help your clients feel normal and connected. This can help foster a sense of good will and strengthen brand loyalty, which will pay off once the world returns to normality. 

Reframe your mindset

Do not stop selling – a survey of more than 35,000 people globally by Kantar found that just 8% thought brands should stop advertising, but whatever you are ‘selling’, your strategy now should revolve around ‘helping’. How does your offering help your clients in their role during this time? Tap into the most helpful attributes and make them relevant to the pandemic. The challenges your clients are facing will be similar so your strategy should be streamlined and targeted. Does your service or product help with any of the unprecedented challenges facing us all? Think about the key challenges facing your client and consider how your firm can offer meaningful support. 

It’s important to be nimble and responsive during a time like this. Think about how you can innovate your messaging and touchpoints to create a new marketing strategy which will help to maintain growth. How can you be different? Ultimately, those able to disrupt are those more likely to gain market share during these challenging few months.

Whatever you do, keep active with your marketing. Going silent will only make it more difficult to come back when this is over. 

Whatever you do, keep active with your marketing. Going silent will only make it more difficult to come back when this is over. 

Do a deep dive into your audience

Use this unique opportunity to do a deep dive into how your client base acts in times of recession. If you can forecast this behaviour you will stand a much better chance of making your budget go further. You can be more targeted in your activities and tailor campaigns accordingly.

Communicate with your most engaged customers

Of course, you should make sure you are available to all your clients, but it’s critical that your key clients are getting the attention and support they need.

It’s important that the clients who are critical to your business feel supported during this time. Of course, you should make sure you are available to all your clients, but it’s critical that your key clients are getting the attention and support they need. Even if they are needing to pause programmes right now, treat these key accounts well and they’ll remember it when time comes to re-spend. 

It’s also critical that you take the time to listen to these clients to find out what they need right now. Many businesses – both B2C and B2B – are offering innovative support for free during this time. If you can give those important clients an extra bit of support during this time they will appreciate it. Take this opportunity to maintain and build on your strongest relationships. 

Finally, track everything 

All of the marketing activities you undertake during this period should be monitored closely to see if it is giving you a worthwhile ROI. Combine marketing data with your sales data to see which techniques are the most effective. Remember what we said about being nimble –  if the approach isn’t working then tweak it.

We are living in an incredibly unusual time. Businesses in all industries are learning how to deal with this ever-evolving situation from scratch, the above aren’t guarantees of success, but hopefully they can act as some useful principles to help you through this period, and ideally, spark an idea or two.