There are a lot of reasons we’re in a supply-chain traffic jam right now. So many companies have been operating on razor-thin workflows and margins for years, and a storm of unfortunate events has thrown so many logistic flows into disarray.
The war in Ukraine, China’s zero-COVID policy, the global pandemic and employee shortage issues have caused many delays and shortages, all of which will continue to affect supply chains this year.
As digital marketers, we can often feel like we’re out of the loop when it comes to the nuts and bolts of a company. Connecting the dots between a lack of brand awareness, sales numbers and even recruiting efforts can be clear, but when it comes to supply-chain and logistics issues, it’s harder to picture ourselves as part of the solution puzzle.
However, I challenge you to consider that outdated thinking.
The digital marketing of today is completely integrated with all aspects of a company, from customer service touchpoints to employer branding to product development to, yes, supply-chain solutions. You just need to be mindful of what you’re doing every day, maximizing your time spent on tactics on what’s a priority and what’s smart.
Here are a few ways that your marketing team can help your company work through these challenges to better connect with your customers and to avoid major disruptions to your revenue and growth plans.
1. Consider shifting your budget to focus on brand awareness
If the first instinct your senior leaders have during a supply chain crunch is to back off on marketing spend, urge them to undergo a thought exercise. If you take your foot off the pedal when it comes to advertising and brand awareness campaigns, what will your market presence look like six months from now? A year? Five years?
The author of this post on Search Engine Land says that while it might feel tempting to save budget on paid search campaigns now, it’ll most likely cost companies in the long run. Brand awareness can tank and competitors will have the advantage to take the spotlight.
We recommend focusing on paid campaigns with sophisticated budget and personalization. Optimize regularly and spend time weekly (if not daily) taking a look at results dashboards and analytics.
2. Be aware of the communication you’re sending
Hand-in-hand with a paid focus on branding is your organic plan. Here’s a recent example of a supply chain issue I personally experienced.
I, like any good millennial who grew up in nerd culture, decided it was a good time to treat myself to an order from an anime and manga website that I’ve had luck with in the past. I placed my order – a few (uh, or six) volumes of my favorite manga series – and happily received my order confirmation email, which told me that I’d have my books delivered in about a week.
A week went by and no shipping confirmation. Another week, no email. I checked the website and there was a notice saying shipping times were slow, thanking me for my patience. That’s fine, and I understood, but the thing that I didn’t necessarily love was the number of promotional emails I was being sent in the meantime. I was getting multiple emails a day that were written with an almost-pushy sense of urgency for me to buy something else, all while my order was weeks late with no direct communication about it.
All of this to say, from an impatient manga fan, is that marketers can do better when it comes to putting themselves in the buyer’s shoes.
Now, I know I just said that you shouldn’t pump the brakes with marketing but being SMART about communication channels is what will have a long-term benefit for your company and its reputation. Think about what would have been the best-case scenario in my example above:
- Immediate and truthful communication about shipping times when my order was placed
- Up-to-date communication on the status of my order
- A slight edit to the marketing strategy for promo emails to my account
Transparency goes a long way! Which leads me to …
3. Talk about it!
The fact that a lot of companies are struggling to adapt to our current world, be it economic or cultural, is not a secret. So why wouldn’t you be open and honest with your audience?
If you’re feeling a pinch when it comes to providing the best possible service to your clients, be up front about it. Explain what you’re doing to work through this time and what that means for your loyal customers (or potential clients).
If you’re a company that provides a service, now is the time to integrate sophisticated personalization into all of your touchpoints. Show them that you can solve THEIR specific challenges and pain points in specific ways.
In addition, this is another opportunity to boost your brand awareness through corporate communications. If you’re dedicating more time to corporate social responsibility campaigns or ESG efforts like sustainability, create content around that.
4. Provide really, really, really, really good UX
Investing in some tech upgrades and focusing on your website is one more tactic you can use to stand out above competition in your industry. We’re all doing business online, so your online presence needs to be intuitive and useful.
[Read More: What Should Your Marketing Tech Stack Look Like?]
Work with your web development team to see what you can tweak online, like:
- Upgrades to your product pages to include up-to-date inventory counts and shipping times
- AI chatbots to answer common questions about tracking orders and customer service questions
- Automation strategies for incoming leads and contacts, placing them in the right segmentation based on their inbound paths and demographic data
- ADA compliance, which will help you provide the best experience for ALL of your customers
When your website is reliable, trustworthy and useful, your company will be cemented as a pillar of stability in a time when things are changing rapidly. Additionally, making these UX upgrades now will only help you in the future.
Are you feeling confident solving your supply-chain challenges?
Between supply-chain problems, employee shortages and the lingering pandemic, there are a lot of issues for companies to worry about and solve. However, being a mindful, smart and forward-thinking marketing team will help guide your company to success in the long term.
If you need help brainstorming what this looks like at your organization, we’d love to chat. Reach out today and we can take a look at your department’s current health, your budget and your goals, and we’ll help you find a marketing solution that will make both your customers and your stakeholders proud.