Should businesses be spending or saving their marketing dollars?
By Anastasiya Golovatenko, account director at Sherpa Communications
The economical whirlwind caused by the outbreak of Covid-19 has affected businesses of all sizes and nature. The magnitude of the crisis has led businesses around the world to come up with solutions to rework on their communications plan to stay afloat while continuing to market themselves.
While there is continues to be uncertainty around 2020 growth prospects, and even more so about the 2021 outlook, the impact of Covid-19 across the globe will be severe and unprecedented. The global economy is expected to contract in 2020 by 3 per cent — the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
As communication advisors, we would advise businesses to go against the grain of instinct and maintain or reduce their marketing budget, but to never slash it completely.
Recent studies have shown that sustaining a company’s brand image is important during the good times, but it is even more crucial to do so during the not-so-good times. The effect of strategic communication in times of crises can keep a brand on top of the consumer’s mind, possibly generating future sales and a bigger market share. Think this way, your customers still buy products and services, but most probably through different channels now. So, instead of killing your presence on the market, transform, adapt and make those sales for your business possible. Especially, with social media, there are many organic tools and tactics that you can execute yourself.
Businesses can focus on spending their budget minimally by employing organic tools such as SEO marketing, digital public relations (PR) and strategic content marketing to leave a lasting impression on their audience and most importantly, build trust, credibility and awareness.
Here is a quick list of certain tactics which businesses can apply internally to position their brand and influence their presence and profitability.
- Act as an industry leader
This means the spokesperson of your company should step up and offer valuable insights across the area of his/her expertise. The communications team should identify right platforms to help the leader share the information, it could be through a media interview or webinar in association with relevant entities, participation in panel discussions, or by being a business mentor to be able to guide small and medium-sized businesses with tips and tricks to survive the market volatility. While you build some brand awareness, you will also be helping some businesses survive. Another way to look at it is to be supportive and the world will change around you.
- Be empathetic
Right now, brands need to be as human as possible, as they need to be sensitive towards their customer’s needs, so the ideal scenario to deal with this transition is to do a deep dive into finding their motivation and behaviour trends. Stay in constant communication with relevant target groups, monitor and analyse the market and adjust your marketing strategy to be of help to your customers. Keeping your audience in mind, injecting your brand personality will also have a profound impact.
- Conduct a market and audience analysis
Businesses cannot turn a blind eye to what their key audience is facing and need to get creative about collecting and analysing consumer behaviour data. Segment your audience to communicate the information based on their priorities. It is important to share facts in real time and approach all challenges individually based on the current scenario. With potential leads, think this way: now is the time when people spend up to 10 hours a day browsing online. They are now reading newspapers and magazines and browsing websitesmore than ever. They still buy products and services, but mostly online. Try to be there for them, adapt and get those new customers.
A simple exercise that businesses can execute to understand where they stand is to Google yourself. People use online search for everything, after reading this article, Google yourself and your business to see if you can easily find yourself by entering your full name or the relevant keywords. Are you happy with what you see? Are your offerings well explained? If not, then you can look at engaging PR professional or agency to help you work on your brand image, build brand awareness and stand out from the competition.
What matters is for businesses to be active, positive and to believe in themselves. Do not be afraid to start, what is key for any business now is to invest time to stay ahead of the competition, keep pace with emerging technologies and meet customer needs as they arise. While many businesses think that investment in their corporate communication is not crucial now, you need to bear in mind that people think about you or your business based on what they read and find online, if you disappear from their radar, you become non-existant to them. Use your website, social media platforms, newsletters (these are all organic tools) to keep communicating with your audience, this is important for your brand survival now more than ever.