The word ‘unprecedented’ has been used by many businesses to describe the current situation that the UK, and the rest of the world, are facing. For some, business has slowed due to government regulations surrounding restricted movement of people and goods, and decision makers have more time than ever before to focus on administration, research and marketing endeavours. For others, business is booming, yet furloughing of staff has led to increased pressure on smaller teams to deliver something resembling ‘business as usual’. Here are some points to consider regarding marketing and COVID-19 during this period to reinforce and prepare your business for a new normality, with the understanding that we must differentiate between those who have more time on their hands, and those who are busier than ever.
Marketing is fundamentally about identifying and fulfilling your customers’ needs. No matter what area of industry you are in, and whether you are geared towards B2B or B2C, your customers play a vital role in determining your business’s trajectory. In a 2019 survey by the Office for National Statistics, less than 30% of the UK workforce said that they have worked from home, whereas now, the majority of the population are at home. While this is the case, you can undertake informal customer research – in short, pick up the phone and speak to your customers. How are they doing? If they’re struggling, can you do more to help? During this time, showing that you are invested in your customers’ wellbeing is essential, and it will be remembered further down the line.
If the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything from a business perspective, it’s that it is absolutely essential to enhance your digital capabilities. It is easy to prioritise external business and neglect your own website, social media, or SEO; or it may seem like your resources could be better spent elsewhere. However, it is vital to invest time and energy into enhancing your online presence. If you’re not currently online, get online. If you are online but don’t offer e-commerce, consider implementing it. For example, local shop and café Mersea Barns commissioned Mackman to upgrade their website with ecommerce functionality to give East Mersea access to groceries through delivery or click and collect. And if you’ve expanded your service offering, for example a delivery service or online client consultations, measure its success. If it is financially viable to maintain these services and a significant percentage of your customers find them useful, then continue operating in this way. In addition, if working from home suits your style of business and the personal circumstances of your employees, perhaps consider a trial period of certain members of staff continuing to work from home in the future.
It is also important to ensure that you can deliver on what you have promised. Take the retail giant Next – while new social distancing measures in their warehouses allowed them to reopen their online ordering on a limited basis on April 14th, demand exceeded capacity and their website crashed immediately. To alleviate this strain, many online retailers have implemented a queuing system to access their websites.
For those with more time on their hands, now is the perfect opportunity to start writing content. This could take inspiration from the current situation, i.e. updating copy for your website to reflect the changed circumstances in which we find ourselves. It could be a letter to your customers to explain the steps you are taking to ensure their safety. Or it could be a blog piece to provide inspiration while many people are stuck at home. Write what you know, impart your expertise, and make sure that you are sharing this content widely using all the channels available to you.
If you need advice on your marketing strategy during COVID-19 and beyond, or are looking to expand your digital marketing capabilities, email Mackman today at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01787 388038.
This Marketing Matters article originally appeared in Suffolk Free Press on April 30th.
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