Wednesday, March 18, 2020

COVID-19: Proactive Marketing Measures for Small Businesses

In light of the escalating economic developments resulting from COVID-19, it’s important to stay on the front foot with your marketing and advertising strategies.

While we’re leaving the medical advice to the health experts — and we urge you to do the same — we spoke to our in-house agency experts to put together a list of proactive marketing measures you can implement now to support your customers and bottom line.

1. Share important information with your customers

Stay active on social media and remember that you can pin important posts to the top of your Facebook Page for quick viewing. You might like to post information about the measures you’re taking to keep your premises or products clean and hygienic, as well as add updated information about expected shipping delays and delivery times to a banner on your website.

We also suggest sending a reassuring email to all your customers explaining whether or not your business operations are affected by COVID-19 and any changes you’re making for protection.

2. Update your business profiles

If your opening hours have changed, update the times when you’ll be open or closed on your Google My Business Profile and Facebook page. Make sure your phone number is correct so that customers can reach you and pop any critical info (such as closure announcements, event cancellations or shipping delays) in your social media account bios and Facebook page cover photo.

If you have a physical brick and mortar location, you should also update your description to give more information regarding any additional precautions you’re taking in-store (such as supplying hand sanitizer, offering pick-up or drive-through, increased cleaning, etc.).

3. Prepare customer service templates

Ensure that you have clear contact details on your website and be proactive about responding to messages and comments quickly and efficiently. Prepare for incoming questions and requests by drafting up templated responses to use on social media. If you receive a lot of email enquiries, consider creating an autoresponder to let your customers know when they can expect a reply and where they can go to find answers to FAQs. A dedicated FAQ page on your website is a must-have!

4. Anticipate changes in customer behaviour

With more and more people shifting to working from home, consumer spending and behaviour will change. Now more than ever, customers will be looking for ways to have things delivered to their door so they can remain isolated. Consumers will shop around for the lowest delivery fees, so if you don’t already have a free shipping offer in place consider adding one to your strategy ASAP. We also recommend adding AfterPay or ZipPay to your website to capture those customers who may have increased price point objections during this financially stressful time.

5. Stay informed about market trends and developments

It’s important to stay on top of how changing markets might affect your paid search and social accounts, from changing click and impression volumes to changing costs. We’re here to help in this regard and will be providing our clients with frequent updates on market developments. At this time, we’re closely watching international trends to see how we can shift ad spend in countries experiencing a serious downturn, as well as monitoring local accounts for any changes in CPAs and CTRs.

Want to learn more? Check out these articles on consumer spending and behaviour:

Forbes: Coronavirus And Shopping Behavior: Men And Women React Differently
CNBC: Millennials changing spending habits most amid coronavirus outbreak
Neilsen COVID19 consumer study
eMarketer and BII Analysts: The Biggest Business Impacts of the Coronavirus Pandemic
Global Web Index: Coronavirus: how consumers are actually reacting

6. Don’t spread fear and panic on social media

It’s essential to understand the changing needs of your followers and their emotional state of mind. Now is not the time to market to a state of fear or panic. Your followers will remember how you handle your marketing during this time and the last thing you want is a PR nightmare. The Coronavirus will expose how your brand acts under stress, you/your team’s ability to problem-solve, and your resilience as a leader in your industry.

Unless you are a medical professional, we recommend treading lightly with the content you put out about Coronavirus. If you don’t have anything helpful to contribute to the conversation, stay quiet. It’s much better to stay quiet than to make your customers feel fearful and therefore less likely to spend on your brand (or other small businesses!).

7. Make smart decisions based on data

During times like this, it’s easy to panic and start flippantly making fear-based decisions (such as drastically cutting spend or pivoting to new audiences you’ve never tested) without considering the long-term consequences of those actions. When disaster strikes we tend to see business owners act on emotion, rather than data. It’s important to look at the real numbers (totals, CPP, ratios, etc.) and base your decisions on the stats. At Expose, we’re focused honestly and objectively on what’s working and what’s not. We encourage you to deep dive into your numbers, rather than alarmist news articles. Choose where you spend your time wisely!

8. Take advantage of the increase in screen time

Quarantine conditions are leading to feelings of boredom and isolation, so people are naturally turning to the internet to connect with friends and family. As the demand for up-to-date information on the crisis continues to increase, consumers are reaching for their phones more often. So now is a great time to get creative with your marketing strategies and capitalise on this increased screen time.

Here are some ideas you might like to implement:

Facebook lives (e.g. host a Q&A, teach viewers how to do something, give a live tour, answer FAQs, give behind-the-scenes details, showcase your bestsellers, etc.)

IGTV and Instagram stories (e.g. do an employee takeover, share how something is made, poll your followers, discuss a recent blog post, provide a sneak peek,etc.)

Run a challenge or series (e.g. get fit from home, declutter your wardrobe and create a capsule collection, 30 days of self-care, make your home more eco-friendly, etc.)

TikTok, Vine or YouTube videos (e.g. fun quick 6-second video clips, recipe videos, unboxing videos, review videos, how-to videos, makeover videos, etc.)

Website opt-ins (e.g. ebooks, webinars, guides, quizzes, white papers, templates, checklists, ‘sound bites’ or mini podcasts, etc.)

9. Be proactive about producing new creative and trying new copy

For some clients right now nothing is working and it’s important that we continually change angles, test new creative, and tweak messaging to find ads that will stick. If your product is locally made and manufactured, tell your customers! If you have lots of inventory, “stock up now” messaging is the way to go. If you have high ticket offers, could you potentially create a new entry-level or mid-ticket offer to support positive cashflow while consumer spending is down?

We can’t stress how important it is to continuously produce new creative and have a stockpile of content ready to go in case things get slow in your ad accounts. It’s better to be over-prepared than have nothing to fall back on!

10. Take urgent action

Many, if not most, businesses are already feeling the effects of Coronavirus, and staying up to date with information is key. This is about protecting your business, your family and your employees. It’s time to decide if you’re going to be a victim to something you can’t control or be a leader. Remember: the decisions you make today could have an impact on your business in the next 6-12 months.

We hope you are keeping safe and healthy. We’re here to help, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us if we can support you during this time! https://expose.media/contact/