Good communication is vital during these times. Organisations which invest time and energy into delivering clear communication will rapidly built trust with their employees and customers.
Gemma Graham, Head of Marketing at Robson Laidler.
Businesses that are heard more are perceived to be handling the crisis better than those which are less vocal.
We can look to brands such as Tesco and McDonald’s for their super-fast comms response to the crisis and how they have built trust and respect from their publics.
The fundamentals of good communication start with time-tested principles; transparent, truthful and timely to maintain confidence and demonstrate strong leadership.
It is difficult to know what is too much or too little. I believe making short and frequent updates is appreciated by customers much more than a huge anthology of information all at once.
In a difficult trading environment businesses need to avoid customer churn. How can good communications help with retention?
Communication should be based around your brand values and inevitably your brand values should be people focused to attract and retain clients as well as your staff.
Once a customer buys into your brand values, it’s more likely they will return.
I advise businesses to look back through their values and cross check them against their comms plan – are they hitting the message?
Customer participation and ‘giving back’ can also help with retention - people want to be involved and feel valued. Customers are looking for businesses to act as a facilitator, to allow them to make a difference. For example, each time a customer buys your product range or service, could some of their fee be given back to the community? A great example is Admiral Insurance refunding clients £25 or giving them the option to donate this, as so few miles are being driven at the minute.
If a customer feels they are making a better choice in using your services then the likelihood is they will return.
Any time of change brings opportunity. Can companies successfully market for new business in a time of crisis?
Absolutely! There is a line between being seen to be overly self-serving so this needs to be considered properly but now more than ever companies will be judged on how they act. Think what you can do to help in this time of great need. Learn from the likes of Costa Coffee who are distributing ready to drink coffee cans to those at the forefront or Blueline Taxis who are providing discounted travel to NHS staff.
Businesses should be able to ‘pivot’ their marketing plan now, so instead of re-writing it, look at how it can be adjusted slightly. Many businesses are tweaking their offering, such as restaurants monopolising on takeaway and delivery services, or gyms offering online training sessions that can be done at home.
I think the best thing to do here is just to make sure you stand out from the crowd.
People aren’t necessarily buying more or making drastic changes to their buying habits right now, but they are ‘observing’. Brands that are seen to be out there providing the most accurate information or sticking their neck out with amazing service will be the first people think of when making purchasing decisions in future.
What’s the smartest way for businesses with low budgets, time and resources to promote themselves right now?
In the marketing world this is called MVM - Minimal Viable Marketing - basically what is the minimum you need to do to get the desired result.
There are two sides to great marketing. One side is your proposition and how clearly you are communicating exactly what you. The other side is the right audience and defining your ideal client profile. Once these two things are nailed then it is golden - and you have the best chance possible for conversion.
Now may not be the right time to spend a lot of money on expensive advertising but it could be a good time for preparation.
By spending more time now thinking about what exactly your proposition is and clarifying your message and audience, you will be in a much stronger position to accelerate your marketing efforts in a few months’ time.
The wonderful thing about digital marketing is that you can tightly define the audience you want to market to, so this offers a smart way to market once you have relevant content.
You and your staff are the experts and people are interested in your advice. Write a blog or take a video selfie that is solving a client problem or answering their questions. A great tip is to look through your emails and make a list of the questions you have been asked that week.
For example – if you own a bar people may want to know how to make a great cocktail at home, so you could make a video demo and accompanying step by step blog guide. Or if you produce fence paint, somebody could have asked you, ‘how do I prep my fence ready for painting?’ So, you could simply write a blog on how to prep your fence ready for painting. This is the basic ‘They ask, you answer’ approach to great marketing.
Post your blog on your website remembering to share on social media utilising popular hashtags where possible so you have maximum exposure. You could even pay a little to boost this in front of your defined audience. You’ll be amazed at how specifically you can target on the likes of Facebook.
Now more than ever it is important to ensure that your marketing is delivering in the smartest possible way, and for the most concise budget.