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When challenging times hit, it’s natural for customers to be extra careful with their spending. As consumers feel increasingly uneasy, they’ll cut back on some goods and increase their emergency savings instead. This has led to a significant impact on direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands and small businesses — 96% say the outbreak has already affected them, and 75% say their business has been impacted by fewer sales.

So, how do you navigate your way around this? How do you pivot your marketing strategies in a helpful way while also staying afloat? Here are a few tips and tricks to consider. 

Be Proactive in Understanding Why

Conduct an internal meeting with your team to capture ideas and brainstorm. Then, find a way to elicit customer feedback. For example, if most of your audience can’t afford to make purchases at this time, you’ll know that discounts and promotions are the way to go. Or, if your customers are only buying “essential” items, your team could brainstorm ways to pivot the brand’s messaging. Once you get insight into customer intent, you’ll be able to settle on a solution that’s the best step forward.

A few ways to ask for feedback: 

  • Send out a survey. Run a customer survey and ask what their top concerns are. Then, build a solution around their responses. Consider this a “Choose Your Own Adventure” of sorts: If your customer is worried about X, prescribe Y (e.g., running a promotion). If your customer is concerned about A, prescribe B (e.g., suggesting a relevant partnership). Leverage this survey to deliver value to your current customer base and layer it into your acquisition strategy.

    If you’re finding that people are shying away from filling out surveys because they’re an inconvenience, think about meeting them where they already are, such as their mobile phones. In fact,
    SMS is regarded as one of the most powerful channels to request feedback from customers, with higher open rates than email.
  • Analyze recorded sales calls. If your company has a sales team, they’re probably making a ton of calls every day. Their call logs can serve as a valuable feedback tool and provide insight into why customers have decided to stop spending. 
  • Use your social channels. Create polls on social channels such as Instagram and Twitter. They’re quick, easy, and provide immediate feedback. 
  • Conduct interviews. Ask your loyal customers whether they’d be open to a virtual conversation — generally, those who invest in your brand are open to giving feedback if you ask them. 

Continue to Communicate With Your Customers

It should be noted that customers never really “stop” buying — they’re just more likely to postpone their purchase due to financial apprehension. This is why it’s more important than ever for brands to continue communicating their added value for when the purchasing moment comes. 

Stay top-of-mind with customers through virtual avenues such as display ads, emails, and virtual events. Ramp up your customer service options, and ensure that your customers can reach you, no matter where they are. Remember that it doesn’t have to be all business, either — during this time, it’s especially important to be extra active on social media. After all, people are required to stay home and are spending most of their time online — why not take this opportunity to provide positive content to help take peoples’ minds off the virus? 

Reposition Your Messaging 

Quite simply, customers stop making purchases when they don’t have the budget. To increase sales, ditch the old messaging and create a new one around specific discounts and promotions. Depending on your business vertical, you can get creative with online discounts and offers. For example, if you’re a travel brand, offer a more prolonged cancellation phase. If you’re a retail business, provide a non-expiring shipping voucher when they complete a purchase to help drum up future business. And if you’re a service-based business such as a restaurant, don’t fret: You can still encourage customers to make online sales in the form of discounted gift certificates so that they can treat themselves when the coronavirus outbreak has slowed. 

Consider Creating Partnerships 

Identify popular brands within your industry that customers have a strong brand affinity to (an excellent tool to use is Brand Match, a directory of D2C brands). When a partnership is formed, both parties can use their respective assets and audiences to cross-promote one another to boost brand perception, build brand strength, and offer special promotions. 

For additional reading materials to help your business navigate this challenging time: 

COVID-19 FAQ for D2C Marketers
COVID-19 Messaging: The Dos and Don’ts
COVID-19 Articles: Marketing Resources for D2C Marketers
7 Trends to Look for in a Post-Coronavirus Brand Landscape
Market Trends and D2C Opportunities in the COVID-19 Landscape
Manufacturing Resources: Plugging Supply Chain Gaps Left by the Coronavirus Outbreak

Angie Tran
Author

Angie is the Content Marketing Manager at AdRoll. Prior to AdRoll, she was a Content Writer at various digital marketing agencies. A writer by day and a reader by night, Angie’s other hobbies include cooking and learning useless movie trivia.