Play the big-hearted long game

Kindness. It's the word of the lockdown, with the Prime Minister urging us to care for one another, if from afar. And while that's critical on a social level, it's also the thing that will keep your marketing, and therefore your business, in good heart.

First, let's face the elephant in the room. When things are going haywire, marketing is the first place businesses start tightening their belts. Because it looks non-essential, but studies show your business will greatly benefit if you keep marketing right now.

And marketing isn't just about bringing in the sales - those sales are jobs held by real people with families, who will then spend money with other businesses, and so on. Marketing is a way you can keep your business going, and be part of the post-COVID recovery. But you can't do what you were doing BC (before COVID-19) - people, countries and economies have changed. Marketing during COVID-19 means it's time for a new game plan built around heart - pivoting to messaging and activities that are more about giving than getting.

Why keep marketing during COVID-19?

The brands that succeed are the brands that talk to people - that doesn't change just because we're all sheltering in place. But continuing to reach out to your audience and marketing during COVID-19 with appropriate messaging, will be especially beneficial. Here's why.

There's less competition.

Because as your competitors drop off, your brand will have more eyes and attention than ever before. And then when everyone starts advertising again, you've solidified your position with your target audience. In the 1990-91 recession, McDonald's dialled back on advertising, which opened the door for Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, who increased their sales by 61% and 40% respectively. McDonald's? Their sales went down by 28%.

There are still plenty of buyers.

During the last GFC, people lost their jobs and homes. It was hard. But, our unemployment rate rose by only 1.2 percentage points during that recession. Even if this dip is five times worse - or more - that's an awful lot of people still in work, still paying their rent, and still wanting to buy things.

Media space is cheaper.

Heck, media owners will probably throw in a set of steak knives - especially radio and magazines, which took a 27% and 22% fall in ad spend respectively in the last GFC. And even cheaper? Digital content you publish yourself.

1. Give your customers even more love

New customers are expensive, so it makes sense to turn more of your focus onto your existing customers. Get in touch, show them love, and put more of your spend into keeping them happy and loyal. Some ideas for that: offer some of your services free to help them cope with COVID-19 fallout, offer a value-add, send them a little something and take a moment to think about each client and what you could implement to their benefit.

More than anything, stay in touch. Offer valuable content (which they'll now actually have time to read) that connects with your business space, without actually selling them on anything. It means you'll be more likely to keep them - and win them back when things get back to normal.

2. Give your expertise away

Research shows that 78% of consumers believe that companies providing custom content want to build long-term relationships. We all know this, but lots of us have been too busy - or haven't made content a priority. Take this time to work on the value-add content that you've been meaning to do for years. Those whitepapers and articles? They can really help your audience. Publishing your expertise gives them something without explicitly asking for anything in return - ideal for building relationships and your brand through this time. That means as things get back to normal, your brand will be the obvious go-to.

3. Look for smarter marketing spend

If you see your marketing budgets contracting, you'll need to find ways to squeeze value out of every last dollar. What do you have in your stable that you could repurpose? Could you move to suppliers that can offer more value for money? Are you putting money into pricey media that could be better used in more cost-effective places, like content marketing and social?

Don't just survive during COVID-19, thrive

This crazy time could actually be a win-win opportunity - by continuing to market, you'll stay ahead of the game while playing your part in reinvigorating the economy when the time comes. In this time of crisis, it's about giving - giving your customers more love, giving away your expertise, while keeping an eye on the budget so you can keep doing it.

Blog written and provided by:
Helen Steemson, Creative Director at Words for Breakfast