COVID-19 Recovery Marketing Strategies
We are living through an unprecedented pandemic which has disrupted life for both businesses and individual. The short-term impact was a minimum six week mandated shut down of non-essential businesses in over 40 of the 50 United States. The long-term impact is speculative, most predictions call for economic downturn of at least six months, while some anticipate a recession that could last up to two years.
Regardless, it is reasonable to expect very challenging conditions especially in the first few months after businesses resume operations. Some service providers, especially those which provide maintenance, repair, and beauty services may actually be overwhelmed by demand as society returns to what will be considered “the new normal” for everyday life.
A New Normal
Many businesses will have to make significant changes to their operations and business model, developing the right recovery marketing strategies will be critical to the viability of the business. This does not mean that your business cannot survive this devastating blow. Now that the initial shock and panic has died down, people are beginning to gain some sense of normalcy, be it a very different normal than ever before. People want to get back to work and businesses want to restart operations or return to full production if they remained operational during this period of self quarantining. However, it is reasonable to expect extreme caution when it comes to spending, resulting in budget decreases, cancelled or delayed projects, and making due with existing resources.
Why Marketing is More Important than Ever
There are two adages that essentially summarize why marketing is so important during the post COVID-19 business world,
- The squeaky wheel gets the grease
- Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Studies have proven that promoting a business during economic down turns is very valuable, even more so than during prosperous times. Keeping your brand top of mind is critical to generating revenues.
This does not mean that businesses should bombard visitors, prospects, or customers with marketing campaigns. Rather, execute precisely calculated strategic marketing plans to deeply penetrate target markets.
The right recovery marketing strategies will be critical to the survival of any business. During good economic conditions, even poorly thought out advertising and promotional efforts can generate some return. In difficult economic conditions, only high caliber marketing strategies will be effective. Marketing strategies that are rooted at the core of the business, strategies that help determine what to offer, where to offer it, and how to price it, etc. This is well beyond advertising and promotion.
Now is the time to develop new strategies and a new marketing plan for the post Covid-19 business world. It would be wise to reevaluate your current product lines, target markets, pricing, and the overall customer experience encountered with your brand. It is time to narrow in on greatest strengths, greatest opportunities, brand perception, and customer satisfaction. Once those components are optimized, then advertising and promotion will come into play.
Think like a new business
Executives may find it wise to resume business operations with the mindset of a new business, one that has just launched. This mindset should be adapted into the culture of the business and will provide several benefits. At the core of this theory is the passion and excitement that comes with a new business, the level of attention to all things business is extremely high, the drive to succeed is unstoppable, and the energy levels should be off the charts.
This passion will be very helpful in personnel staffing as many former employees are receiving an average of about $900 a week from unemployment insurance. That is a pay rate of $22.50 an hour, more than many entry level and general labor positions offer. The federal government has guaranteed $600 of that for a period of 40 weeks, essentially the remainder of 2020. Hiring incentives based on performance such as annual bonuses, stock options, clear career paths with increases in salary and benefits, or signing bonuses are common in startups and may be necessary to attract personnel.
Many small and mid-size businesses may be essentially starting over again. Providing a great opportunity to rebrand, launch new offerings, introduce new programs, develop a better “customer experience“, it’s an opportunity to improve. Fortunately, there are several advantages that exist including experience, relationships with vendors, partners and other 3rd parties, an existing customer base, and other resources such as existing websites, etc. all provide a tremendous advantage over actually starting new.
In order to hit the ground running once operations resume, business leaders need to develop good recovery marketing strategies and plans now. There will be major changes in business operations, ranging from personnel to revenues. Therefore, it is imperative that executives and owners begin planning and put initiatives into place to maximize performance from day one. Reevaluate existing operations and current marketing campaigns, and adjust accordingly by implementing the following strategies,
Disaster Recovery Marketing Strategies
1. Communicate Clearly
2. Adapt and Improve
3. Target with Precision
4. Reward Loyalty (Customer Retention)
5. Promote with a Cause
Communication is Critical
Begin with clear communication with all parties within your business, employees, vendors, partners, suppliers etc. Management must make itself easily accessible to these parties and set a tone of certainty and strength. Nobody wants to follow someone who is not certain as to where they are going, lead with confidence.
During uncertainty people hunger for valid and reliable information, uncertainty creates fear and stress. On the opposite side of that coin, people do not want to be bothered with business promotions and information that is not relevant to their concerns and fears. Therefore, it would be wise to pause or minimize promotional messaging and advertising, if your offerings are not essential.
Instead communicate sincere concern for clients and there well being, show them that your organization is sensitive to their situations and needs. Let them know that they can rely on your business to continue to provide the goods and/or services that have become accustomed to. Explain any changes that the may encounter, such as longer response times, or limited access to certain information due to staff working remotely. Be more lenient and accomodating to clients needs and wants, when and where it is feasible. Customer loyalty will be critical to the success of businesses, kinds acts are a powerful way to earn that loyalty.
Reassure customers by presenting your business as stable and ready. Share information with key clients about the path your business will take moving forward. Even if it means changes need to be made, changes that may be unpleasant but reasonable and necessary for continuance.
Provide as many channels of communication as possible, consider adding any of the following channels
1. Live Online Chat
2. Web Based Conferencing (Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger Video Chat, GoToMeeting are just a few sources)
3. Facebook or LinkedIn Messaging
4. Direct access via mobile phone
5. Text Messaging
6. eMail with a guaranteed response time (for example within 24 hours on business days)
Make it as easy and convenient as possible for staff and customers to communicate with each other and with management.
Adapt and Improve
Change is inevitable, and this is a great opportunity to make changes and improve. Of course, any change needs to help recovery and must be developed with the right marketing strategies, well planned, and executed with exacting precision. Do not just make changes for the sake of change, conduct research and factor in the new normal. Monitor the impact of all changes very closely until the market become stable, then fine tune the good changes and eliminate the less than favorable once stability is reached.
From a marketing perspective now is the time to identify any new opportunities that may have developed as a result of the Coronavirus, in your specific industry and target markets. Once identified, reevaluate existing offerings and determine if they can be modified to provide value for the needs of these new opportunities. For example, Astute Group is modifying our consulting practice to provide post COVID-19 services. Services that are tailored specifically to help in the recovery of revenues of small and mid-size businesses, rather than the accelerated growth and optimized profit margin goals we traditionally focus on.
To optimize offerings for the new market norms, reevaluate
– Product and Service Offerings
– Value proposition
– Channels (Delivery for services, Distribution for products)
– Customer Experience (each and every possible interaction the public has with your brand)
– Complimentary offerings (Options to bundle offerings together)
Target With Precision
The average person will more than likely have less tolerance and acceptance of random or poorly aligned messaging, whether that’s digital advertising, emails, or general content shared by any business. The uncertainty that will linger over the publics minds will cause concern and reduce the patience of most. Spending will be cautious and planned, attention will only be given to what is truly a great fit for needs and wants.
Identifying the exact needs and wants of a potential customer or client will be imperative to generating sales revenues. There are many ways to identify those needs and wants, ranging from automated marketing tools, to analysis of historic data and more. The STP method provides a tried and proven process to provide the right product, to the right market, at the right time.
Reward Loyalty (Customer Retention)
The quickest and generally the easiest path to revenues is via existing customers. If your business operations or revenues have essentially become nil, generating sales and getting the ball rolling is potentially more important than profit margins at this initial stage of resuming operations. Think of the “snowball effect” where a small snow ball increases in size and speed as it rolls down the hill, except the snowball is customers. The number of customers is the size and the sales revenue is the speed.
We feel it is advantageous to provide existing and prior customers strong incentives to spend their limited funds with your business in order to get the snowball rolling. The strong incentives do not have to be price based or detrimental to profits. They could be non-monetary offerings such as “double the warranty term”, or a free trial period (maybe extend a 30 day trial to 60 or 90 days), a rewards program that has returns at a lower level (instead of $25 reward for 10 visits, make it a $5 for every 5 visits).
What’s important is that customers feel the gratitude they deserve for their loyalty. Loyalty should be viewed as priceless, especially when that loyalty generates referrals. Now is the time to implement campaigns to encourage referrals. In our opinion, a new customer in a bad economy is worth three during prosperous times (for example, Astute Group is willing to provide up to twice our average customer acquisition cost as a reward to the referrer of a new client). The reward may be a credit for future purchases with your firm, or a gift card from a business that has agreed to provide a discount to your business.
It’s simple math and it adds up to a positive return. CAUTION: existing KPI’s such as Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) and Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) may not be accurate given the new economic and market conditions. Start with the minimum reasonable reward offer and increase as necessary.
Promote With A Cause
Cause related marketing, marketing that involves the cooperative efforts of a for-profit business and a non-profit organization for a mutual benefit, is nothing new. It has proven to be a very powerful and effective marketing strategy. It is very difficult to find someone that does not like helping others, that feeling of doing something to better the world is very valuable to many. Numerous businesses have achieved their success by enabling customers to help others while spending their money with the business. A perfect example is TOMS shoes, which donates a pair of shoes to the less fortunate for every pair of shoes sold.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted the entire world and has created a sense of gratitude and increased appreciation of the good fortune most Americans enjoy. The average American is happy to do something that will help the greater good, especially for those that have suffered from the Coronavirus. Business owners and leaders also feel good when they help, it is truly a win-win-win situation for all three parties involved, the customer, the business, and the charity.
While it is very costly to give away the equivalent of the item sold, it is still very beneficial to charities if a business donates a percentage of revenues generated. Charities may also find benefit from getting physical help, free labor from a businesses staff, or from utilizing the business resources to generate funds. For example, donating space in your facility to collect goods or to throw a fund raiser.
Let’s not forget that so many people are in much worse shape and face much greater difficulties than we do. As stated earlier, helping is a Win-Win-Win situation.
ASTUTE GROUP WILL DONATE 10% OF REVENUES ON BEHALF OF THE CLIENT AND ASTUTE GROUP, TO THE CLIENT’S CHARITY OF CHOICE.
For the remainder of the 2020 calendar year, we will make a donation to the charity of choice on behalf of both ours and the client’s business.
FURTHERMORE, we will provide a free half hour phone consultation to any business that would like help implementing the strategies provided in this article. Just complete the form in the “What’s Next?” link below and we will respond with an email of available days and times.
Thank you for visiting our website and taking the time to read this article. We wish you, your families and staff, good health, peace of mind, and prosperity.
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