Since reaching pandemic status on 12th March 2020, it became clear that the world was in a state of crisis. In constant flux, the COVID-19 outbreak has caused huge changes to our day-to-day lives and continues to impact businesses and economies across the globe.
It goes without saying that businesses around the world are understandably concerned about the impact this will have on them. One thing is for certain - we are in a new era of change where the traditional rules no longer apply. Markets and consumers are acting in unpredictable ways and as a result, we’re all navigating these unprecedented times without a roadmap.
Save Lives, Save Livelihoods
No matter which side of the fence you sit, I think it is fair to say that the government has put in measures to try and support UK jobs and businesses. In 2019, SMEs accounted for 99.9% of the business population1 and so without help, the outlook for the UK’s SME economy would have been pretty bleak. Whilst we’re not out of the woods just yet, business loans and furlough wage support has enabled businesses to save livelihoods by taking advantage of government schemes. Businesses now have the opportunity to not stop, but instead, shift their approach.
With some level of support in place, now is the time to push forward. According to Marketing In The Era of Accountability, companies that increase exposure during a downturn can gain up to 3x more share in the two years of recovery. Compared with those who cut investment by 50% for 1 year before returning to normal, who take 2 years to recover lost share2. So how do you reposition your marketing?
Marketing in a crisis
In challenging times, brands are fighting to not only survive but make a difference by setting about their marketing activities with integrity, purpose and clarity. Consumer behaviour has changed and with that, their tolerance levels and requirements. It’s no longer about aspirational messaging, instead, your focus should be on connection, safety, security and fulfilling basic psychological needs.
It’s also no surprise that in a recent Conductor survey it was identified that 86% of marketers predict that achieving their goals will become more difficult during COVID-193. Given the difficulties ahead, we have put together our top recommendations for marketing in the coronavirus era.
Social distancing restrictions have resulted in social becoming one of the only ways we can communicate with the outside world. With that, we all have a lot of time on our hands, resulting in an increase in screen time. Born Social has put together an amazing presentation on how to navigate your brand’s social media presence during COVID-19 with a focus on how to be useful.
Give what you can and consider how your brand can help people in this time. Brands such as FiiT are offering Free 3 Month Premium Membership to NHS workers. Audible is also providing free educational and entertainment audiobooks for anyone to listen to during this time; supporting parents who are working from home and looking after children during school closures.
Necessity is the mother of invention. How does your business flex to add value in this crisis? You don’t need to look far to see brands changing the way that they work in order to support communities. Think Brewdog: adapting production to make hand sanitiser for hospitals. Decathlon: working with 3D printers to hand scuba gear for use as ventilators. Barbour: manufacturing scrubs for local hospitals.
We’re all looking to make money, but you need to recognise that this is a hypersensitive environment. It seems obvious but you should avoid capitalising on COVID-19 with insensitive messaging and promotions. Nike consistently does a good job of supporting and encouraging its community whilst generously donating to worthy causes.