If you’re in charge of marketing for a manufacturer, you’ve likely had to shift your entire strategy to work around store closings, trade show interruptions and other effects caused by the COVID crisis.
Most likely, you’re focusing on digital marketing more than ever before. You may be part of efforts to reorganize distribution chains so clients can buy from your firm more directly. You may even be overseeing internal communications efforts that keep your staff aligned with changes in operations and COVID-related guidelines.
“In the coming months, businesses are going to become more reliant than ever on their digital strategy,” writes business strategist Bernard Marr in Forbes. “In many cases it will be the deciding factor in whether they make it through the tough times ahead. Key to resilience is the development of ongoing contingencies to mitigate against this loss.”
In that spirit, here are some general tips to consider while navigating your business through coronavirus-related challenges.
1. Redirect marketing money
Marr advises reassigning remaining marketing budgets toward social marketing, content marketing, SEO and influencer-led campaigns. “If it’s standard in your industry to go out and meet new customers face-to-face before you do business, adapting may mean opening new channels over web or social media platforms where introductions can be made and relationships fostered,” he recommends.
2. Adjust the roles of your brick-and-mortars
Even if your stores can’t invite customers in, they may facilitate other sales options. For example, Minnesota-based Tuffy’s Pet Foods encourages its retail distributors to adopt ecommerce tools that let people order ahead for curbside pick-up or home delivery. Tuffy’s steps up by publicizing those outlets on its website.
(Disclosure: Tuffy’s is a current client of Brandpoint.)
3. Anticipate customer questions
Your customers may not have a clue that your product is still available for sale even when stores are closed. Update the FAQ section on your website to address customer queries about how, when and where they can buy from you in the interim. Then publicize the link to that section using your social media outlets.
4. Optimize tech tools
Look around for tools you might adopt that can automatically disseminate information on your behalf. For example, you might create a Google Post confirming your updated information to those searching for you on Google. And automated workflows tools like BrandpointHUB can keep all your content organized, edited and scheduled to publish.
5. Implement a cost-per-lead campaign
The strategies involved in content syndication and cost-per-lead generation campaigns can be excellent methods for showcasing your expertise to large audiences and filling gaps in your sales pipeline. The fixed-cost tactics work to promote your high-quality, gated content through a closed network of industry-specific B2B websites.
6. Create informative videos
Even before COVID ramped up, 92% of U.S. marketers named video as an important part of their marketing strategies. And making short, engaging videos can be easier than you think; all you really need is a phone camera and an online connection. Think about introducing new products, demonstrating their uses, touring your plant, answering customer questions or tackling other topics likely to be of interest to your client base. “People watch significantly more video than ever before,” writes Adam Hayes on Hubspot.com. “Consumers continue to use video as an integral part of their journey with brands, and are excited to see even more video content in the year ahead.”
7. Broadcast webinars
You may be able to turn the content from your conference, sales or trade show presentations into webinars. The live online seminars allow participants to submit questions, respond to polls and otherwise interact with the speakers, making them the next best thing to in-person meet-ups. Webinars can work in your favor to promote thought leadership, offer value to your customers and extend awareness of your brand.
8. Establish a newsletter
To keep your company top of mind with customers, now may be an excellent time to start a digital newsletter. Include content that speaks to customer concerns, questions and interests, perhaps focusing immediately on tips and news related to recommended use of your products during the coronavirus.
9. Start Twitter chats
Capitalize on people’s need for socialization by scheduling online conversations related in some way to your brand. You might choose topics based on info you previously planned to discuss at a trade show or other event. To prepare, choose a date and time, create questions to ask participants and announce which unique hashtag people can use to find you.
10. Publicize community efforts
Research shows 70% of consumers want to know what brands are doing to address social and environmental issues, and 46% pay close attention to such factors when they buy products.
As such, this is a good time to mention the steps your company is taking to give back to the community or provide assistance during the crisis. Customers will remember how your firm responded and showed support for others. A Fortune study also determined that companies that give back are subject to greater employee retention, more enthusiastic employees and higher levels of brand ambassadorship among their staffs.
11. Keep the “team” in teamwork
Internal communications are more important than ever as more team members work from home and everyone wonders what the future will hold. Live video sessions for meetings and announcements can keep everyone informed, motivated and functioning as a team, and frequent emails can fill them in on day-to-day changes.
While the business world waits to find out whether and if traditional sales models will need to change in the future, marketers must adapt and seek promotional avenues that don’t require in-person contact. The more proactive you can be in strengthening your digital marketing campaigns, the better positioned you will be for future contingencies.