The needs of your target market are continually changing, so it’s important to stay abreast of trends and modify your business strategies accordingly. One way to reach your customers during this volatile time is to adapt your marketing plan to meet their needs. We spoke with small business owners and marketing experts to determine the top 10 ways to adjust your marketing strategy during the pandemic.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is an overall strategy for how you will communicate with your target audience and influence them to buy your products or services. Although marketing plans can range from basic to comprehensive, they should include relevant information about your brand and how you want to be perceived by your customers.
“A well-rounded strategic plan will show where the business is currently in the market, as well as a roadmap of where it would like to be and by when,” Heather Schuck, founder of TheSchuck.Agency, told business. com. “While the specifics may vary by industry, more often than not you’ll want to address the seven Ps – product, price, promotion, place, packaging, positioning and people.”
When promoting your products and services, it is important to stick to your marketing plan to stay in sync with your brand identity. However, a marketing plan is a living document that needs to be modified to better meet the current needs of your customers. For example, the coronavirus crisis, recession, and civil unrest have caused drastic changes in consumer behavior, and your business needs to adapt its marketing strategy to meet current consumer demands.
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The economy and the market are in a constant state of change, forcing your consumers into a wide variety of buying phases. How you direct your marketing efforts to meet these needs can make or break your business. Instead of continuing with “business as usual” – which your customers may perceive as insensitive – or over-correcting and inundating your consumers with exhausting information, there are several great marketing strategies you can use.
We spoke with small business owners and marketing experts to help you determine the top 10 ways to change your marketing strategy and reach your audience during the current economic upheaval.
1. Emphasize the true relevance of your product or service.
As consumer needs change, the relevance of your product or service may also change. It’s important to emphasize how essential your brand is still to your consumers and how it can benefit their lives. This may mean shifting the focus from one product to another or emphasizing unique ways your current offering can meet your audience’s needs.
“As for messaging, between the pandemic and the possible recession, executives and brands have the opportunity to connect more with anxious consumers and focus on the true relevance of their products or services,” Paige said. Arnof-Fenn, Founder and CEO of Mavens and Moguls.
2. Respond to current consumer needs.
“Focus more on meeting consumer needs and helping them deal with the realities of the pandemic rather than blatantly promoting what you have to offer,” said Linda Pophal, marketing consultant and owner of Strategic Communications. “I have seen a number of SaaS and application vendors offering free subscriptions for a limited time, [and] some news outlets have taken down their firewalls to provide access to virus-related reports, etc. »
Offering helpful tools and thoughtful promotions can build brand awareness and loyalty. Think of ways to help your customers make a purchase, whether by promoting services online, offering curbside pickup, or providing live chat and support.
3. Increase your digital marketing efforts.
Your consumers are online, so it’s important that you are too. Focus on digital marketing efforts such as paid advertisements, search engine optimization (SEO), and email marketing. Keep your website up to date and strive to establish yourself as a thought leader through blogs, videos, social media and other digital content. If you have the marketing budget for it, consider hiring a marketing professional or social media influencers to increase your online visibility.
4. Modify your email marketing campaign.
Businesses need to focus on adapting their email marketing campaigns to meet the unique challenges customers face. Instead of sending the standard email content you’ve always offered, change the tone, content, and frequency to meet your consumers’ expectations. Stay on brand, but be aware of how your emails are adding value to your audience.
“For example, just because a daycare has closed doesn’t mean a parent still doesn’t need help caring for their kids,” Schuck said. “Don’t waste this email sharing your updated hours for the third time; provide value, like tips on fun ways to practice the alphabet while cooking dinner. These types of value-added communications will draw your customers to you, not push them away.” .”
Chances are, a large portion of your audience is on social media, so use that to your advantage and join the conversation. Focus your marketing efforts on social media channels that generate a large portion of your customer engagement (such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram). Create relevant messages that add value, education and entertainment, instead of strictly trying to make a sale.
“Be engaging, comment on posts from the public, and adjust upcoming posts based on current sentiment and feedback,” Schuck said. “When our world is in turmoil, creating content to automatically post 30 days in advance may not be the best option. It can make you seem deaf and heartless, no matter how innocent the posting blunder.”
6. Communicate critical information.
Keep an open line of communication with your audience, and transparency and honesty will be well received. Each state and industry has its own set of regulations and guidelines, so keep your customers informed about how you are impacted. It can be especially helpful to update your hours of operation on your website and Google business listings.
“Even if you have to be shut down, don’t stop communicating with your audience,” Pophal said. “They need to know you’re still there, and they want to know when, if, and how you’ll reopen. With small businesses in particular, your customers are likely worried about you personally, so be sure to share frequently messages and updates.”
7. Include your audience.
Schuck said this is an opportunity for you to show real leadership by reassessing your goals, adjusting deadlines, and inviting your audience to be part of the conversation. Invite your target market to help guide the direction of your business, as they’ll likely have valuable insight into what they need and how you can help them.
“For a company to create raving fans, there has to be some level of public buy-in,” Schuck said. “When you show your customers they are heard, it builds trust and builds customer loyalty.”
8. Show compassion and empathy.
Showing compassion to your customers is crucial, especially in these tumultuous times. As your customers face financial, emotional, and mental stressors, deliver empathetic content that shows you truly care.
“Words are part of the healing process, and we can see which leaders and brands are doing the best job every day with messages that not only touch the mind, but also the heart and soul,” Arnof-Fenn said. . “There has never been a more important time to deliver accurate and empathetic communication with transparency, truthfulness and speed.”
Help your community in any way you can, whether by donating, volunteering, or collaborating with other businesses. If possible, pivot your business strategy to better serve the community. Giving back will help you increase your community support, goodwill, and brand awareness. By encouraging your staff to join the conversation, you can facilitate the corporate social responsibility movements your entire team believes in, creating a positive company culture.
10. Audit your sales funnel.
Just because your marketing strategy worked three months ago doesn’t mean it will work now. As the market evolves, it’s important to perform a thorough audit of your sales funnel and analyze the data. Performing a competitive analysis can help you see what others are doing in your space, allowing you to gauge what’s working and what’s not.
“I think we’re all a bit emotionally overwhelmed, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of complacency,” Schuck said. “However, there are opportunities in the difficulties. Taking that extra step to re-evaluate your funnels can be the difference between gaining 25% more market share or losing it.”
What to avoid in your marketing plan
There are several things to avoid when reworking your marketing plan. For example, you don’t want to keep sending out the same old marketing campaigns as if nothing had happened, but you also don’t want to inundate your audience with exhaustive marketing and political material. Consumers are weary and can see through PR stunts and emails on the go.
It is important to recognize the current state of affairs, but do not talk about it more than necessary. Instead of inundating your audience with generic information, provide them with educational or entertaining marketing messages that add value and improve their customer experience.
You also want to avoid being too pushy with sales or over-promoting your products or services. Make sure every communication you have with your customers has purpose and value, whether it’s on your website, email, or social media. As the social and economic situation changes, adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.