Nine tips to get your marketing back on track after lockdown – and keep your business afloat

Wondering how to give your business a much-needed kickstart now lockdown is easing? Here are nine tips to get your marketing back on track.

Right then, putting lockdown aside, for those who’ve felt more than a little pain these last few months, (because let’s be honest some have enjoyed some unmitigated/often unexpected joy) it’s time to dust yourself down, sharpen your pencil and plan your way back to glory. 

Here are a few tips that might help from an agency that has specialised since 2004 in helping ambitious YET cash-strapped/disruptive brands overcome their bedded down rivals with deep marketing budget pockets. 

1) Be honest with yourself

You didn’t become a bad brand overnight! Yes, you might have been dealt a cruel hand in recent times but lockdown simply brought to a head problems you were probably already facing: weak branding, inconsistency of message, poor distribution channels, over-dependence on a few clients…

Take a few deep breaths and redo your company SWOT and be honest about your weaknesses – no-one need ever see this illuminating analysis outside you! 

2) Get clarity of thought

Are you instantly gettable? Can you explain your very essence in a few lines and does what you have sufficiently differentiate yourself from the crowd?  

Too many brands I’ve worked with are far too ‘waffley’ about what they are and aren’t, often clutching at straws that are ‘marginal wins’ at best. You only need to be better at a couple of things to enjoy real success HOWEVER the standout element needs to be SIGNIFICANT and more importantly pertinent to your customers. 

Infographics are a great way to hone your point of difference – if you can’t explain your raison d’etre in a few pithy images, it’s a strong hint that you need to go back to the drawing board. I love Snaffling Pig’s Values Values Image.

3) Perfect your logo

May seem like a small thing in the scheme of things but think of your brand logo as your seal of approval, a badge of honour. Too many logos are convoluted, finicky or ill-conceived. The fact that they will be teeny tiny on mediums like social media reinforces how simplicity and wow are king.

As an agency I’ve always been worried that being called Purple Pilchard trivialises my brand. But it doesn’t, because it’s the execution that’s all-important. I made the decision a few years ago to review my own brand (good olde Survey Monkey).

It transpired that everyone loved the name but wasn’t too impressed with my googley-eyed fish that was deemed half-frog/half fish.

The new design was a revelation – creating a very ownable and vibrant logo that was the starting point for tying up online ads, social media, literature. Simply put, if you can’t get your own house in order why should anyone else trust you?

Here’s my new, much improved logo:

And how it works on my new marketing materials:

4) Sub-contract the rubbish bits

I used to waste so much time collating my numbers/getting my invoices ready. My new accountant would only take me on if I embraced Quick Books, the best decision I ever made.

Founder time is so precious, so don’t waste time doing the bread & butter bits OR at least find time to minimise the time you spend doing back-of-house stuff!

5) Get a great brand identity

Do you have real stand out? Are you memorable? This is no time to be a shrinking violet. Setting up a brand, a company, an agency is a VERY proud moment so don’t settle for half-baked or inoffensive as that’s what the big corporates would do.

Great brand identities should be clean and encapsulate everything you stand for in a light humble manner – Pip & Nut is a classic example of clean lines, wry smile and instantly gettable!   

6) Invest in excellent copywriting

Visuals are all well and good but need to be ably supported with great punchy writing. My number one bugbear is that brands will pay design agencies a small fortune for a brand identity but then skimp on copywriting by ‘having a crack’ themselves.

You might be well read and you might have got an A at GCSE English but this is not the moment to awaken your inner JK . And even if it is, get someone who speaks their mind to proof read/review, because there’s a very good reason why only a few people make a living writing books, journals, blogs…

7) Embrace a smidgeon of social responsibility

I believe (hope) we will come out of lockdown thinking a little bigger (kinder, more thoughtful…). As someone who learnt my craft at Ben & Jerry’s and Nature’s Path, I have always appreciated brands with a more earnest outlook.

Giving back is good for the soul, be that a % of bottom line profit, an occasional piece of free work or sharing best practice on online forums. Us doing well needn’t be at someone else’s expense, (well apart from your direct rivals) so never lose sight of the manifold benefits of giving back a little should a moment arise.

8) Don’t waste time

Learn something new, reconsider something you historically dismissed or side-lined. I’ve always believed in Linkedin and Twitter but never got the likes of Instagram (from a brand perspective).

I spent a little of furlough time putting myself on a social media masterclass, (Avocado Social do a superb self-teaching course) not necessarily to add another string to my bow but to ensure that at the very least I grasp the basic rudiments.

9) Think local

So many national businesses forget about what’s on their doorstep where shared local pride/potential ‘mate rates’ could make all the difference between success and failure.

What could be better than a local friendly face to work with/lean upon? Beckleberry’s is a client of mine that made its name making ice cream and puds for 1stClass/Business Class airlines.

When this work dried up during lockdown they saw the opportunity to refocus their chiller vans to provide local deliveries/orders; not simply keeping their heads above water BUT reacquainting themselves with their hardcore brand loyalists who they unwittingly taken for granted.

In short, see the good in any outcome because a little self-reflection time is never a bad thing!

Ian Hills is the Founder of Purple Pilchard, a straight‑talking incubator agency that looks after the distinct needs of young, ambitious brands of tomorrow, providing meaningful, ‘breakthrough moments’ in an increasingly cluttered FMCG marketplace.

Photo by Ellicia