The Coronavirus, the impact of the lockdown response, and social distancing measures have certainly hit most businesses with varying levels of destruction. With the UK being in its 8th week of lockdown, the “stay at home” instruction has changed to “stay alert” meaning those who cannot work from home can return to work (if it’s safe to do so), but must still abide by the rules of social distancing.
Many manufacturing facilities have started to reopen, adopting the HSE recommended safety measures and conducting risk assessments to ensure everyone’s safety. I think we can agree that this is a positive move and a step in the right direction. We appreciate that recovery is going to be a long-haul journey, however, how can we best plan ahead to rebuild our businesses and revitalise sales through our marketing?
How can your business best plan for recovery and what action can it take to revitalise sales?
Should you carry on marketing the same? More? Less? Different? To help with this, Clear Goal Marketing has produced a few tips that may help businesses going through such conundrums.
1) Time to refocus your marketing efforts?
Events that you booked for 2020 may well have been cancelled or postponed. Commitment to any new dates at this stage will depend on your company’s financial position and whether you feel that confidence will have sufficiently regained by then to make it justifiable.
If you planned to launch new products at these events, now is the time to consider a different launch plan. Can you afford to wait until the next show date? Possibly not. Your new products could be the perfect way of reviving your business after the crisis.
How will the lockdown affect how your ideal customer consumes marketing? If you normally advertise in local publications and press there’s a chance these will be read more due to more available time, however, if you advertise in magazines that are delivered to workplaces it is likely these will be wasted. Overcome this by switching your activity to online, ask magazines to post your PR, advertise on their online publications and social media channels.
Be ready to take advantage of any opportunities to promote your business such as contributing to topics/features. This could be on businesses that have done good deeds, supported others in need during the crisis, e.g. if you have helped the hospitals, the elderly, people in need, this will help build your company’s credibility and profile as a brand that is known, liked and trusted.
Refocus your marketing efforts on more online activity such as social media, online advertising and online publications to keep your business visible. Take the time to update your website, write news/blogs and develop email campaigns; these can be developed ready to launch when the time is right.
2) Ask yourself “how has the market changed?”
Consider how the market will have changed since the crisis? How will this impact on product choices that people and companies will make about your products and services? What will influence their purchasing decisions moving forward?
Look for opportunities that your company could take advantage of such as growth areas like anti-bacterial product coatings, products that self-clean, help with germ control and promote healthy living. Suppliers to public transport, hotels, retail, leisure industry, restaurants, public spaces should consider what new products their customers might now be interested in.
With people being at stuck at home socially distancing and self-isolating for such a long time, this will bring the need for DIY projects and home improvements to the forefront of their minds. Once any insecurities over income are dispelled/overcome and job security is secured, those jobs will happen. Continue your online and social efforts to ensure your brand is thought about for when that purchase is made. With more time of their hands, customers will be researching right now their options, especially online.
During the lockdown did you feel that your business missed out on online sales? If your business is not equipped for online selling, perhaps now is the time to get your business equipped for future online sales by developing an e-commerce strategy.
3) Plan and prepare for the resurgence – it will come!
Try to anticipate the required stock levels by talking to your key accounts. There’s a fine balance between having enough stock to supply customers (so you don’t let them down) and holding too much stock and causing more cash flow issues. Keep a careful watch on the market and close contact with your key accounts so you can be ready. Consider the marketing you will need to rebuild your business again - see starter packages tip no.5.
Switch to doing more online activity. A lot of your customers will still be working from home, retail outlets will start to reopen, however, online selling will still be very important. Continue to keep your business’s marketing visibility online by ensuring that your social media activity, online advertising and email campaigns are continued.
Take advantage of this time to market your business, target new business and encourage brand switching. Consumers and suppliers may be more tempted to switch for many reasons. Inflexible terms and lack of understanding during a crisis, relationship breakdowns, and time to reflect and consider other options.
4) Consider who is ready to buy
Be prepared to pick up where you left off with orders. Who was ready to buy? Think about accounts and projects that were in the pipeline, that was put on hold.
Use any quiet time you get and use it to get ahead of your competition, revise your marketing strategy and plan your marketing campaigns. Your competitions’ marketing may have lapsed, take advantage while there is less noise (competitor activity) to build your brand and attract new potential accounts. Maybe some of your competitors’ accounts have been let down and there’s an opportunity for you to help?
5) Starter packages
Starter packages to encourage initial sales regrowth. What can you offer customers to rebuild your business? Market confidence will take a while to build again - what can you offer to encourage people to buy again? Promotions, offers and deals, credit terms. Can you improve cashflow by tempting customers/stockists to take large discounted orders for proforma/upfront payments? If you are selling to retail businesses and stockists, consider how you can help them market themselves by working together on sales promotions. Consider how you can help them recover also, show you are on their side.
During times of crisis, you will certainly find out how loyal your customer base is. Will your customer be more price-sensitive in order to claw back some of the lost profits? Now is a good time to communicate, remind and reinforce your product offering to your target customers, so they remember you.
6) New product development
Considering forming teams that can work on new product development and innovation projects during a quiet time, so you are fully prepared for when the market revival happens. Especially if you have a backlog of new products to develop, why not take advantage while your sales team are off-the-road, working from home, or on furlough, (and not adding to workloads) to catch-up. Plan your strategy to launch these products so you can hit the ground running.
Think about how you can utilise stay at home salespeople by enabling them with video conferencing to conduct online product demonstrations, CPDs and sales calls. Is it the perfect time to pick up that CRM project shelved due to ‘lack of time and resource’ to build a project team and get it completed?
If you’ve made it here you are almost at the end of this blog. I hope you found this information useful. Why not subscribe to receive our regular blogs? If you find yourself needing any assistance with your marketing why not get in touch? We wish you the very best of luck with your business’s reopening and recovery.