Desk laid out with ipad, computer, calculator and pad

OK, before we start, we want to just clarify this is a marketing blog. With this in mind, we want to just reiterate that these are the most useful things you could be doing right now from a marketing perspective for your business. Obviously, there are useful things that can help your family, mental and physical well-being, and your economic situation – but there are lots of specialists who can give advice in these areas.  We are focussing on our area of specialist knowledge – marketing your business.

If you are like the majority of businesses, you will have already undoubtedly felt the impact of what can only be described as a global nightmare.  There will be very few businesses that are not affected in some way, whether it has impacted directly on your industry, or one of the industries you serve.

Many of us will have relocated operations, where possible, to work from home (which brings it own challenges).  For many, the volume of work will have been seriously impacted.  Initially, this brings a period of panic – dropping revenues, juggling of staff, cutting costs and working out how you can financially navigate through the next few weeks.

However, once the initial fire-fighting period has settled down and you have an immediate short term plan to get through these first few weeks, it is likely that you have an opportunity to reassess where you are as a business and consider some of those marketing tasks that have been on the to do list for a while!

#1 Consider….Is the way that you do business the best way for the post-pandemic world?

Whether you like it or not, things are never going to be the same again.  If you disagree with that then it is the equivalent of the ostrich with his head in the sand.  A major reset button has been pressed and for many of us, the first few weeks of relative normality will spark a feeling of déjà vu from your start-up days.

Businessman hiding his head in sand escaping from problems

We are all going to have to work twice as hard to get the business up and running and operating as profitably as it was.  However, what we now have, that we didn’t previously, is the experience of running the business, and a much wider brand awareness of our actual existence. 

Quite often we are asked “if you could turn back the clock and change one thing that you did when starting out”?  Well now we can.  We now have insight into what works and doesn’t work, best practice and common pitfalls.  We have staff and suppliers we trust and can rely on, and some loyal customers who we know will stick with us.

However, where we need to be cautious is that the environment within which we work has changed considerably.  This needs to be considered carefully because it may actually heavily influence how we do things in the new world order.

A good starting point is with two marketing exercises that have survived the test of time and are as valuable today as they were 50 years ago.  The PEST and the SWOT analysis.

PEST (or more commonly known today as PESTLE) considers all of the external influences on the business – Political, Economical, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental.  None of these will be the same as they were at the start of the year.  In fact, it is unlikely that so many have been impacted upon so quickly and so dramatically.  These need to be reconsidered if you are reviewing how you currently operate.

The SWOT is an internal analysis of the business – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  Now is the perfect time to re-evaluate these for your business.  This process we are going through will have undoubtedly highlighted some of your strengths and major weaknesses.  Many contingency / disaster recovery plans will have been activated, many for the first time.  Some businesses will not have had any in place (a clear weakness).

The Opportunities and Threats will look forward and really force you to consider which are the biggest opportunities we need to grasp, and which are the biggest threats to our business which we need to nullify.   

#2 With point 1 in mind, spend some time crafting a marketing strategy and accompanying plan of action.

Illustration graphic representing developing a marketing strategy

Whether you have worked previously from a marketing strategy or not, the exercises in point 1 of carrying out the PEST and SWOT analysis will put you in an ideal position to craft your strategy for the next 12 months.  Consider your mission, vision, and values.  Consider your product and service offering and how you segment and deliver them. Consider your pricing, packaging and competitive positioning.  Consider your target audiences – have you been over reliant on one of two customers, or been exposed by being reliant on one particular sector?  Finally, consider your messaging.  Not only has your world been turned upside down – so has your customers!  Do you need to tweak your messaging accordingly?

Once you are clear on the overall strategy and your objectives, you can then map out what activity needs to take place in order to deliver the results.  When you have the activity plan in place you can compare the resource you need to deliver it, to what you currently have.  Are there are any glaring gaps – manpower or budget?  How can you plug these gaps?

Rarely does the business owner have the time to take stock and undertake this process properly.  This is why there is usually a demand for marketing consultants to come in and assist with the process.  However, now may be an opportune time to do a lot of the groundwork yourself.  If you would like a rough framework to guide your thinking in this area, please let us know and we can provide you with one.

#3 Engage with your customers

Cartoon of a person with a headset on with the word "speak" underneath

Engage with customers?  Surely, we are always engaging with customers when we are operating profitably, otherwise we wouldn’t have a business?  Well, not always. Sometimes businesses are merely servicing customers, rather than engaging with them.

Take this time to reach out to all present and past customers to find out how they are and how they are dealing with the challenges they are currently facing.  Can you do anything to help or support them in anyway?

Quite often, again due to time, we may well be speaking with our current customers, but lapsed customers get forgotten.  Why not open up dialogue with them again. During this current situation there is definitely a “we are all in this together” mindset.  Utilise this to deepen the strong relationships you already have and revive those that have fallen by the wayside.  If you can help them in some way, then everyone benefits.

#4 Create some content

Social media and young people network concept. Modern graphic interface showing online social connection network and media channels to engage customer interaction in the digital business.

Content creation is always on the “to-do list”, but it is never at the top.  Use this time to create some useful and engaging content which you can gradually release through the rest of the year.  This content can be in the form of blogs, social media snippets, white papers, infographics, video or webinars.

Get yourself organised and create a content plan of different topics related to what you do that you think your target audience will find interesting, entertaining or useful (or ideally all three).  Once you have a plan of topics you can decide which ones lend themselves to which content types.  Then crack on and start creating it.  If you released a new piece of content every two weeks, you would only need 19 pieces for the whole remainder of the year.  A focused approach such as this, whilst day-to-day work is quieter, is a good way to build up a bank of useful content.

Remember to write it in a way which is timeless though – unlike this article which is all about the situation we find ourselves in now.  If you find you get through more content when you write it in a condensed timeframe such as this, you may find it useful to pencil in a “content week” into your diary every 6-9 months.

#5 Get organised

Files of folders concept icon shows data records for filing and record keeping. Information to organise and archive - 3d illustration

How many of us get frustrated throughout the majority of our work lives because we are working inefficiently.  Data within the CRM is outdated and needs cleansing, your mailbox is running out of space and can’t receive large files, your online filing system is not user intuitive and you can never find a file without using the search function.  Sound familiar?  Well now is an opportune time to create more efficient working practices.  Go through all your emails and files, logically file the ones you want to keep, delete the ones you don’t and archive the ones you are not sure about.  The process can be very cathartic and will destress you during a period which is, by its nature, quite stressful. 

Think about your marketing plan that you have created and ensure your filing system reflects the activities you are going to be undertaking.  Is email marketing on your list of activities, is your data segmented in the correct way to maximise effectiveness? Do you need to work through and add some different fields or create some different lists?

Do you have some KPIs that are critical to your business, and the marketing of it?  Can you create a simple dashboard in excel to track and record these? Remember unless you can test and measure what you are doing, you are never going to maximise the potential returns.

Summary

So, although we find ourselves in a weird uncertain state of limbo, it is also an opportunity to do some of the things you know you should be doing, but never find the time to do.  View this as an opportunity to improve your business, and even be prepared to reinvent it, if that is what is required.

The following two tabs change content below.
Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.