Well this has been an interesting/challenging/what just happened (delete as appropriate!) few months…
But we are seeing a glimmer of light of what we think is the new normal. The life of designers and marketeers is one of constant change and evolution and for us, this is another evolution. However, it’s important now, more than ever, to be aware of customer behaviour and how best to communicate with them. The last few months, businesses have had to be more reactive then ever before, without being able to pro-actively put in place a proper marketing plan for this new world. That is not a criticism, it’s just a simple fact. For many, being prepared hasn’t been an option and budgets are now, understandably, restricted. You may not have been a boy scout in terms of preparation but there’s no time like the present. And as ever, we like to think of ourselves as caped crusaders, trying to help you make the most of any challenges that lie ahead. (are we getting a bit too carried away?)
Revisit your original plans
Back in March, all activity stopped. You may have considered restarting your planned marketing campaigns, but the likelihood is that you will have to change your approach. Keep the basis of the campaign plan there but consider how you may have to adapt them to maximise the impact. The most reactive businesses and marketing campaigns will be the most successful. It’s important to remember that priorities have shifted therefore your post-lockdown marketing strategy must reflect this.
As you have had to adapt your business and perhaps adhere to Government guidelines, it’s crucial that you tell your customers how you are managing processes and what they can expect from you.
If there are any changes in your service offerings, products, costs, lead times, approach, terms etc, it’s key you communicate this sooner rather than later.
However, it’s also important that you get feedback from your customers. Ask them how their attitudes or requirements have changed and what they would like to see from you. Once you have that information, you can look at incorporating their feedback into any changes you are planning. It’s also a great opportunity to show customers that you are taking their new needs on board and working with them to give them what they want.
Managing customer expectations from the outset will create a more understanding customer, should there be any bumps in the road in their buying journey. Reassuring them and taking on-board feedback will build a better relationship long-term.
Hit the reset button
You will need to reset your goals based on your changing marketing plan. What are the short and medium terms goals and how much are they differing from the original ones? What was realistic in January 2020 is certainly unlikely to be realistic in August 2020.
Different campaigns require different marketing collateral. Right now, events and exhibitions are not an option due to social distancing measures. Additionally, the printing industry is suffering. Your customers may not want to pick up brochures that have been handled at various stages of the production process. So, ask yourself how can you adapt your methods of communication to ensure you are still reaching your customers? And is it manageable with the resources you currently have?
An important thing to highlight here, is don’t be tempted to DIY when it comes to reviewing your marketing collateral. There are several online design tools on the market just now but invest your time and budget wisely. Work with professionals who can get you the best results for your business.
Ultimately, right now, digital is the way to go. The sooner you start planning your digital marketing the sooner you will gain a competitive edge.
These last few months, consumer behaviour has shifted to online purchasing and for many, going forward this will not change. Client retention will need to form a fundamental part of your new marketing plan. Ensure your website and any PPC campaigns are up to date and optimised effectively, communicate regularly via emails and make best use of your social media channels to keep everyone up to date.
The increased online demand resulted in many online retailers experiencing a sudden surge but without the proper resources in place meant that businesses couldn’t keep up with orders leading to delays or temporary closures. The result of this has been that those who couldn’t cope, have quickly learned that the best way to stay relevant, operational, and even increase market share is to devote budget and resource to their e-commerce site. Despite restrictions now easing, in the short-term, it’s unlikely buyer behaviour will return to how it was BC. (Before Coronavirus…)
However, you need to be able to keep up with and respond to, demand. Again, it comes back to managing customer expectations. Consider your supply chain – do you need to change your lead times or update your service levels? Preparing ahead and communicating these changes with your customers will iron out any potential service issues.
Content is still King
As we mentioned earlier, events and exhibitions have been hit hard. While a live audience can yield great results, think about focussing on training videos, demonstrations and workshops. Segmenting your customers into smaller groups gives you the option to get more direct feedback – even if it is via Zoom or Teams.
There’s no crystal ball to tell us when everything will return to ‘normal’ so keep your web content and social media posts relevant and react to any changes in guidelines that will affect your industry. By regularly updating your audience with actions and even imagery of how you have adapted will reassure them and potentially create greater brand loyalty. The substantial increase in social media activity, means it is the ideal time to connect with and listen to what your customers have to say. Don’t forget to keep some of your planned content in place but just ensure you are being socially responsible in terms of timing and the message.
More so now than ever, keep your website updated. It’s the first place customers will go to see what’s happening and what to expect from you. Use the homepage to direct people to an FAQ page or to your updated terms. Prepare a bank of replies to ‘new’ frequently asked questions that will help manage staff time. And don’t forget you to change your FAQ’s on your Facebook page as well. Consistency is just as important as content.
Be prepared Scouts!
As restrictions ease, you can expect an increase in business whether it’s online or in store. Clear systems and guidance will reassure customers that you have their best interests at heart. Whether it’s hygiene signage, posters, equipment or similar email campaigns to keep them abreast of what’s happening, it will encourage brand loyalty.
If you would like help with any signage or email campaigns to help your business, then get in touch, we would love to help.