Rob Lawson | Marketing Through a Crisis – What should you do?
Paolo Nicolello Hkvg7Ldm5Vu Unsplash

Marketing Through a Crisis – What should you do?

Marketing Through a Crisis – What should you do?

I have seen a lot of marketers peddling the line – ‘those businesses who market through this crisis will come out the other side - miles in front of their competitors’. In fact, I have found myself saying similar things in conversations with clients, however, there is one caveat here – it depends on the business and the type of marketing.

There are plenty of studies done by prominent Universities – one in particular by Harvard –on the 2008 Financial Crisis, that confirms this theory. However – coming from a marketer, there appears to be a major bias or self interest in the promotion of this. Hence why I thought I’d write this article.

Struggling – there will be a number of businesses who will struggle to survive this crisis, there is no point spending money on media, web design or other services that will not save you and even worse, you won’t be able to pay for. There are many more businesses who will struggle through and survive, they will need to preserve their cash. The one thing they can do is Marketing 101; look after your people and look after your existing customers – communicate honestly and openly with them. Use low cost methods of course, call them (phone or video call), email them – or perhaps text message them. Please take Covid – 19 out of the subject line, I know stacks of people who are have these filtered to their junk. As will all marketing – the more personal you can make the messaging the better, so segment your database as much as you can, and tailor the message accordingly. You can use social media as well, although it’s difficult to be as personal.

Flight Centre just cut $15M per month in advertising, it makes sense to do so. Other online businesses might see an upswing (category dependent of course) so they might increase their spend.

Jargon – please speak like you do normally, remove all jargon, industry speak etc. Do not – say – its business as usual, how can it be. Tell people about the changes in contact procedures you have for couriers, for pickups, for video meetings, for hygiene etc.

Positive Businesses – they know they can make it through the crisis with careful budgeting, they have some cash reserves. Sales are down but will bounce back. Now is the time to reassess your marketing, what will things be like at the other end of this. How good is your Digital Marketing? How much do you spend on trade shows, how much on Digital, how much on Social? What is your website like, is it just a brochure? How do you rank on Google?

I see so many websites have not progressed from the year 2000. Welcome to our website, we are the leading supplier of X. Perhaps you don’t need a new website, but the current version needs a makeover at least. You need to speak in customer language – again, no jargon or limit its use please.

The next thing to do is sort out your SEO. Now is the perfect time to reallocate your budget to SEO, you can make a lot of improvements in 3 to 6 months. I know you don’t trust the SEO providers, big fees, over promising and little return is the common response I see from businesses – give me a call or email me, I’ll put you on the right track. There are SEO Programs to suit all businesses that won’t break the bank. So, if you are pausing Google Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads for a few months, move some of this budget to SEO.

I also believe it’s an ideal time to improve your Linkedin connections and if you are not accustomed to it, engaging in meaningful discussions with your connections. If you see a post you like, don’t be shy, like it. If you see a thread you can add too, jump in and say what you mean. Give your new connections s sense of who you are and what you believe in.

All Businesses – have you done webinars in the past? You should consider using them during the crisis and beyond. Webinars are ideal for selling products and services, especially services. You can advertise on a range of digital channels to attract webinar registrations, then follow up with attendees to gauge their interest. As a buyer, I find them useful to understand a product or service, plus to get a sense of the company and people who work there. If you feel there are no sales to be had during the crisis, there are a couple of options.

1. Existing Customers – have webinars to educate them on a product or service you provide to them or that they don’t already use. You don’t need to be selling, just educating them to get better value from what you already do for them.

2. Your staff – run trial webinars to test the technology and the process of how to run webinars. There are a bunch of videos on youtube ‘how to host a webinar’. It’s often worth having a moderator – other than the presenter to collate questions and ask them towards the end of the webinar. You should record these to assess everything and get feedback from your team.

    Post Covit 19, we are going to do things differently, video meetings and webinars will be more prominent in my opinion. We all need to get proficient at them. Big tip – keep them shorter than a usual meeting, keep the energy up and the pace up, many of these people are on a couple of screens plus a mobile phone. Get your point across.

    Record your webinars, lots of attendees won’t make it but will view later.

    Podcasting – this is a real threat to radio broadcasting. As cars become more media available, it is getting easier to listen to our favourite podcast during our commute. If you travel by public transport – you are probably already doing so. Of course, during the crisis – public transport travel will be down, but when we return, you could have a bunch of episodes ready to go. Alan Rodway and I have been working a podcast over the past couple of months – which you can find on Apple, Google, Spoitift, Stitcher and iHeart radio – under Team Talk. So, if you’d like to run your podcast ideas past me or get some tips on the technology requirements, drop me a line.

    Video Content – for those of you who know me, I have been encouraging businesses to adopt video for several years now. You can live stream on a range of channels, youtube, facebook for starters. You can record your own TV show. You can produce ‘product’ videos, ‘How To’ videos, and my favourite video case studies and testimonials. You can do screen recordings with a voiceover using products technology like loom – both for showing clients how to do stuff, as well as your own teams. If you have time over the next few weeks, get busy.

    Learning Management System – there are a number of low-cost software platforms to create your own LMS. An LMS is a platform to house any content for learning. Schools, Universities and businesses use them. You can house your video content; you can control access and see what has been completed by students (staff / clients) – if you have assessments in your LMS. What a great use of your time to create some online learning as either an income stream or as a better way to train your team. So is this marketing – as far as I know – a new product or income stream is.

    There are going to be a number of businesses in the food and alcohol sectors, public service etc who are not being decimated by the effects of this virus, in fact quite the opposite, they are booming. Not to mention the video conferencing providers. They will be spending up on their marketing to communicate their offerings and what capacity they have. This article is more for those who are shut or affected to a serious extent.

    Rob Lawson

    [email protected]