Three marketing pitfalls to avoid during a crisis

The Covid-19 pandemic came as a bit of a shock to many people, as most of us have never had to deal with a situation like this before. 

And for many small (and large) businesses, an immediate knee-jerk reaction yo the Coronavirus lockdown has been to stop promoting their brand and offering.

Some felt that it was somehow wrong to be in sales mode at this time. Others worried whether they’d get any return on their marketing spend. But most probably just didn’t know what the right decision was, so stopped advertising until they worked out the best approach.

However the truth is that, for most businesses, it’s a mistake to stop communicating with your customers – especially right now.

While no one knows for sure what’s going to happen over the next few weeks and months, many experts are predicting a recession. And multiple studies during previous recessions have shown that businesses who stop marketing during a downturn are less likely to make it out intact the other side.

Businesses who maintain or even increase their marketing during a downturn, on the other hand, tend to emerge in a much stronger position – often becoming the eventual market leaders.

All that said, the right way forward right now is definitely not a ‘business as usual’ approach. 

So, what should you do? 

The good news is that there is plenty you can do to reassure existing customers, retain (and even grow) market share, and remain front of mind with your customers when they’re ready to buy. You just need the right marketing knowledge.

To help you work out your Coronavirus marketing strategy, here’s a list of the top three pitfalls to avoid right now to help your business make it through (and even emerge in better shape on the other side) from The Marketing Architect – experts in marketing for businesses that want to survive and thrive in uncertain times.

Pitfall 1) Not communicating or marketing

This is a sure-fire way to get forgotten by both your customers and your prospects. If you stop communicating entirely your existing customers may think you’ve gone out of business, and when they’re ready to buy your product or service again, they’ll go straight to one of your competitors who DIDN’T stop communicating.

This applies even more to your prospects who don’t yet know, like and trust you. Cutting out all your communication also risks making your loyal customers feel like you have forgotten about them during the crisis – destroying that hard-earned loyalty and again pushing them straight to your competition when they’re ready to purchase.  

What to do instead

DO continue communicating with your customers and prospects – make sure you consider what you’re communicating about.

If you’re stuck for ideas about what to say or what that communication could look like, check out our 8 Ways to Stay in Touch (free) download. Do be sure to review your messaging carefully first, which takes us on to the next pitfall. 

Pitfall 2) Relying on old messaging

It’s vital that you review your messaging to make sure it’s appropriate and relevant.  Sticking with the same website or email copy as usual could mean that your brand appears out of touch or insensitive.

There are very few businesses whose standard messaging would be 100% relevant and appropriate right now – the vast majority of household names have updated their messaging in some way.

Tesco are using “Helping to keep everyone safe”, Coke’s UK website now starts with “We’re in this together”, while Apple’s website announces “We’re open for you” since they’ve closed all physical stores.

For more inspiration on what to say in your own messaging, check out this selection of Covid-19-related emails curated by Really Good Emails. 

What to do instead

DO check the copy on your website, your social media channels, and any emails you send out (including those automations you set up six months ago and thought you could just forget about).

If updated properly and sensitively, your messaging should help to reassure your customers and help them to trust you even more than they did before.

Pitfall 3) Assuming that online is the best or only answer

Yes, if you’re a consultant or a trainer, you can quite smoothly switch to online sessions instead, while still serving the same clients.

But not only will that not work for everyone, but the online space is fast becoming quite crowded with all the businesses who are pivoting right now. It would be easy for your business to get lost in this newly crowded marketplace. So it might be preferable to take a more creative approach.

Some innovative solutions we’ve come across recently that really cut-through the online crowds include:

  • The local handyman now offering video or phone call tuition to talk customers through the process of  ‘Do It Yourself’.
  • Several gin distilleries who’ve switched production to hand sanitizer to help cover supply shortages.
  • Dog walkers who have introduced new handover procedures that comply with social distancing rules.
  • A farm ‘theme’ park that has switched to offer drive-through farm shops.
  • The personal stylist who has switched from in-person style consultations and personal shopping trips to curating a personalised selection of outfits onto your own secret Pinterest board to be purchased online at your leisure. 

What to do instead

DO think about what you can offer your customers that will be useful and relevant for them right now, or that could provide some welcome distraction and entertainment – and that makes use of your existing skills, experience or equipment. 

Whatever you do, do SOMETHING

Whatever happens, make sure you do somethingNow is not the time to hide your head in the sand and hope it will all go away soon – as tempting as that may sound, it won’t help your business survive.

We’re facing difficult times, but there are options available for those business owners who take a proactive approach. 

The Marketing Architect are experts in marketing for businesses that want to survive and thrive in uncertain times. Find out more about how they can help you stay afloat during a crisis here.

Photo by Edwin Hooper