Whilst it would be great to think that the UK economy can just pick up where it left off, this seems an unlikely hope and the future trading environment for many businesses is uncertain.
Once the initial activity and excitement of businesses returning to trading, we face the looming prospect of economic recession and a tough trading environment.
It is common, particularly for smaller businesses, to view a marketing budget as an unnecessary luxury. Money allocated to marketing is often one of the first things to be cut when businesses are searching for cost savings. This is understandable – especially when trying to protect your own and your employee’s income. This, however, is only a short-term fix. It will not necessarily address the longer term problems faced by businesses who are trying to differentiate themselves and maintain their market share - especially in a tough trading environment which could last for months, even years, depending on the scale of the downturn.
So – how do you effectively change your marketing to help you survive a post Covid-19 downturn?
Don’t just cut spending
Cutting spending on marketing can be counter productive as it can make you less visible to the very customers you are trying to attract back to your business – concentrate instead on making your marketing budget work harder for you by concentrating your budget where you get the best ROI. Have a look at our blog ‘How to use a small marketing budget most effectively’ for some ideas on what can be achieved with a small spend.
Refine your personas
As the trading environment for most businesses has changed, it is also likely that your customers buying habits, their priorities and their income levels have changed. If you accept that the first, and arguably, the most important rule of marketing is to look at who you are targeting, a change of this magnitude demands that you refine your personas to make sure that they are still reflective of your ideal customer. Simply maintaining your previous marketing in terms of targeting is unlikely to cut it.
You may need to rethink how you are positioning your business in terms of what its strengths are, especially in light of changes to your customers buying habits and what is driving their purchasing behaviour. For more on personas and targeting read ‘Working with buyer personas’ on our blog and download the free persona guide.
Improve your online presence
Now more than ever, your website needs to positively reflect your brand and provide detailed information to your customers. A likely effect of people having less money to spend is for them to be more cautious in how they spend it and to make sure that they are using the right business or choosing the right product. In the UK, 76% of shoppers use the internet to research purchases or get inspiration before buying. This does not just apply to those customers considering purchasing a physical product. Online research is an important part of the decision making process for those who are shopping for services as well as products.
If your website is dated – in terms of the look or the content – it will not be offering the best reflection of your business. Spend some time undertaking a thorough review of your website to identify areas for improvement (or visit our resources page to get someone else to do it for you!)
Email, Email, Email
Email marketing has advantages over many other types of marketing for a few reasons.
- It’s cheap
- It’s simple
- It can be highly targeted
- It is easily personalised
- It can easily be automated
- It is highly measureable
Email is still regarded as having the best ROI of any other marketing channel so it is an ideal way to keep in touch with customers in a cost effective way. There are very few barriers to entry in terms of software availability and skill levels required to set it up. There is a higher tolerance for promotional material via email than on social channels so it is a great way of letting customers know about special offers or deals. For more information download our free guide to email marketing.
Social media is another digital marketing channel which is relatively low cost and easy to set up and manage. Throughout the enforced lockdown we turned to social media in our droves to stay in touch with family, friends and businesses, find entertainment, exercise and shop. Whilst more businesses opening up will mean we are less reliant on social channels for some of those things – it is unlikely that we will see significantly fewer users of social media – perhaps just a reduction in the amount of time they spend online.
Your social media channels are an invaluable way to keep in touch with customers and show them a less formal, more human side to your business – have a look at our free Facebook marketing guide for some tips and ideas on how to get the most out of Facebook
The content which you present on your website is one of the most powerful marketing tools you have. As well as providing valuable information to your customers it also generates website traffic, and good content can have a huge impact on your search engine position.
Fresh website content in the form of blogs, news items, product and service information have been shown to drive customers towards your website and website content is the cornerstone of any inbound marketing strategy.
For your website content to have a positive impact on SEO, it needs to be well researched, well written, show an understanding of your customer and have a focus on the search intent of the website. Fresh content on your website shows that, as a business, you are engaged and proactive. It also is a great vehicle to showcase your expertise, provide information and even entertain your website visitors. We have published an ‘Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing’ on our website, which is free to download.
Just be helpful!
Although the future is uncertain for many businesses, concentrating your marketing efforts where they can be most effective in terms of cost and helpfulness, could help you to get through a period of financial downturn. This comes with the added bonus of, hopefully, a more engaged and loyal customer base at the end of it, allowing you to be well placed to take advantage of an improved trading environment whenever it returns.