There's no easy way to put this: Uncertainty sucks. It's also an unavoidable part of life and business. While there's nothing that any of us can do to avoid uncertainty completely, there are definitely ways for marketers to build a good foundation that has the best possible shot at weathering the storms that come from time to time. Below are some concrete actions you can take now to prepare for any situation: economic uncertainty, a global pandemic like COVID-19, or any other force out of your control. To be honest, they're good things to do at any time – but they're critical in times like we find ourselves in now.
Find Ways to Give Back to Your Community
Yes, business uncertainty can be scary, but it’s important to remember that there’s a whole world of people out there who are also dealing with the same thing. So, what can you give back to your community? Note: You don’t have to be a large corporation with a budget in the millions to make a significant impact.
- Advocacy: There are plenty of opportunities for brands to speak out publicly about causes that matter to the community. Find causes that matter to you, your target audience, and speak out, donate funds, or support legislation.
- Access to your product/services for affected groups: In an effort to help residents who aren't getting a paycheck during the COVID-19 outbreak, PG&E suspended service disconnections for unpaid bills. Your business can take a cue from PG&E and discover available resources or develop new ones for providing help.
- Time: This is the ideal moment to explore how your company can step up as volunteers. Perhaps your company can ship supplies to where they’re needed most or support the local food bank.
Double Down on Data
Being intentional and focused is more important than ever in lean times. Having the right data helps you make investments in the right places, focus on the right audiences, and prove your results. Make sure you have the right systems, processes, and tools set up to analyze your data regularly. The right solution will help you break down barriers between channels and provide insights into current campaign optimizations and new opportunities.
Evaluate Your Team of Tools
The right marketing tools are the tech equivalent of upgrading from riding horseback to flying down the interstate in a sports car. However, having tools that don't provide their weight in return on investment (ROI) is like hooking a sports car up to a trailer full of non-essentials. Spare some time to take stock of your tools, figure out what you really need (and don’t), and look for options that consolidate your needs into one platform.
Create Opportunities to Establish and Prove Your Value
- Expertise (content): In challenging times, customers are likely to be especially appreciative of content that is genuinely helpful. Whether that means a blog post or social media campaign, the key is to provide value to your customers by making things easier for them (even if this means just making them smile).
- Offer your skills. As a leader in your industry, you likely have an area of expertise that's of value to others. Consider offering a free webinar or virtual event for your customers.
- Create an unforgettable customer experience. It’s always the right time to go above and beyond when it comes to providing a great customer experience. Word of mouth marketing doesn’t sleep, and now more than ever, customers will want to suggest something positive to family and friends.
- Personalized customer loyalty efforts. Your customers have been with your company through thick and thin; now it’s your turn to reward them for their loyalty, especially in these challenging moments. This is where personalized customer loyalty efforts come into play. While traditional customer loyalty programs are tiered and points-based, this time, you’re gifting them “just because” — a “Thank you for being our loyal customer” reward. An excellent idea is to send an email that addresses each customer by name, along with a free shipping code or special discount.
Cement Your Brand in the Hearts and Minds of Customers
It’s not about the bottom line and links and news stories. The brands that survive tough times are the ones that weave themselves into the fabric of their customers’ lives so that they become more than just the products or services that they sell. If you can provide help, in any shape or form, during these distressing times, it’s a surefire way for your company to be utterly indispensable in the hearts and minds of customers.
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