The coronavirus has caused the world as we know it to adapt to a new normal in a very short time frame. As businesses are forced to change their day to day operations, find new ways of communicating with customers, or even have to close their doors completely, a level of uncertainty begins to hover of the future of the business and our economy as a whole.
Many company’s response to this potential onset of an economic downturn, whether short or long term, is to cut operational costs, with marketing being a heavy target. While a change in strategy is a must to adjust to new consumer behaviors, your focus needs to be placed on the future in addition to the immediate circumstances. The decisions you make now will have an impact down the road. Slashing your marketing budget may protect short term profits, but will more than likely hurt your brand and leave you less profitable once things settle. Our recommendations on how to protect your brand and overall business during this difficult time is to evaluate your ROI, be smart about the messaging you are pushing out, and take a deep look into the new customer needs for your industry.
Closely evaluate each marketing strategy you are currently implementing and determine your return on investment. If you need to make cuts, start with cutting what was not producing a positive ROI before this happened. If it wasn’t working before, odds are you could do without it now and in the future. Are there any expenses that truly are not necessary or maybe are not beneficial right now? For example, if you spend $2000 on branded t-shirts each month to give away to customers who do business with you, that is an unnecessary cost that can be cut and not negatively impact your business. There is wisdom in protecting your company from wasting money on ads that will be ineffective due to the current circumstances, but consider an adjustment to tailor to new needs rather than turning it all off. Being intentional about re-shaping your budget to fit your new audience’s buying behavior will keep you in the running when this is all over with. Consumer behavior may not ever fully go back to the way things were a few short weeks ago, so be mindful in your strategies and plan ahead of the curve for the “new normal”.
Evaluate all content going out and don’t forget about automated marketing! If you have email blasts, social postings set to go out or other automated marketing sources, be sure their messaging is still relevant, or even appropriate. The world is hyper sensitive to content right now and the last thing you want for your brand is something distasteful for the current circumstances to deter people from you now and in the future.
Closely monitor your ads and make changes to your messaging and product offerings as needed. Digital marketing makes this a lot easier as data will show you which services or brands are still driving business and which are slowing down. Adjust your strategies and product offerings to meet current consumer demand. What are their current needs? How can your products and/or services meet those needs and how can you adjust your marketing strategy to help them? A car dealership offering $0 down payments, or no payments for 90 days, or extra cash on trade ins is a good example of adjusting to truly help customers that may be concerned with their ability to make payments in the near future.
If you are currently unable to provide your goods and services at all, find creative ways to position yourselves as helpful and informative to keep your brand at top of mind. Even providing a distraction from the rest of the media to educate them on something in your industry could be a refreshing change for consumers who are used to having products pushed on them constantly.
Things are changing day by day. Stay informed with the facts and be aware of the impact it will have on consumer mindsets. Be willing to make adjustments as you go yet do not make rash permanent decisions. Think in terms of short term, middle term, and long term. Your short term decisions are ones that will impact the next few months. What adjustments need to be made now? Is there wasteful spend that can be put on hold or eliminated? Middle Term decisions will impact the next 6-9 months. Are there products that can be put on the back burner to allow space for those that make more since for current market needs? Long term decisions will impact the next 1-3 years. Right now we cannot assess further than a few months, if that. We recommend you stay away from highly impactful business changes that may not even be necessary that far down the road. In situations like this, plan for the long term, but be wise in the timing of your implementation.
In summary, pay attention to consumer behavior and needs, find ways to meet those needs and if you are in a position that requires you to minimize costs, consider eliminating lower yielding tactics. If you need any help brainstorming or coming up with ideas, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here for you!