Well, what a strange time we live in!  I watched the News this morning, and saw that Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer has had to quit her role for failing to heed her own advice about essential travel, by driving 40 miles to her holiday home at the weekend!  What a great example of bad marketing – promote one thing, and deliver something completely different.

So we have just completed week 2 of 3 weeks (we hope) of lock down.  Many business owners are thinking, ”nobody is buying, I can’t deliver any way, so what is the point in marketing?” Well, there definitely is a point, and it is probably more important now than at any other time.

The reality is that the world is going to be different when we come out of this crisis. Yes, we may well get back to “normal”, but if we do, that is 12 months away at least.  The markets in which we operate are going to be turned on their heads for quite a while.  So what can we do about it, and how do we make sure we are at the front of the pack when the starting gun goes, and everybody sets off?  Well, here are my 6 tips:

1. Nurture your existing customers

In fact, I would include past customers and prospects in this group – in fact, any one on your customer database.

You should never stop marketing to (communicating with) these people.  Many of you will have done so erratically in the past, so now do it consistently.  If you were communicating once a month, step it up to weekly.  Start the good habits that you can continue as we come out of this situation.

Just make sure your message is on point, relevant and empathetic.  Yes you can sell, if you have something that they would benefit from right now, but the key is not selling, it is education and communication.  Build that relationship, so that when we come out of the crisis phase, you are the first business they turn to.

(For a good book on this approach, read Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy, Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk.)

2. Identify your new targets

As I said, the world is going to be different when we come out of this crisis.  Right now, you need to get out your crystal ball and look into the future to predict who is still going to be in the game, and where the market will be.  Then you can start setting your goals and making your plans for the future.

If you don’t have a crystal ball, then you need to brainstorm ideas with someone.  Preferably not someone in your company, or even your industry, as this just leads to a myopic view of the world.  The more people you can bounce ideas off, the better.

To help you with this, why not come on to one of our group coaching calls, where we have a number of business owners doing just this.  You can help them, and  they will help you.

3. Create some compelling offers

I strongly believe that you should never discount your product. Doing so undervalues what you sell, and takes valuable profit from the bottom line.  However, there is one occasion where creating offers and deals (notice how I don’t say discount) is a must.  That occasion is when you are “Buying Customers”.  In his book of the same title, Brad Sugars, shows how you must always compare the Life Time Value of a client (i.e. the profit they will bring in over their lifetime as your customer) against the cost of acquisition.  This cost will include the cost of marketing, sales and any deals you give.

Every business will be different, so you must know your numbers.  Once you have a good understanding of these, you can then calculate what you can include in your offers.  My rule is that if all you can come up with is 10% or 20% off, then you are not trying hard enough.  When did you see MacDonalds offer 20% off a Big Mac? You need to be more creative and develop package deals, BOGOF’s, Special deals – they key is to add value, but not discount.

4. Choose your words carefully

All the advertising and marketing you were doing before the crisis should stop immediately.  The message is likely to be wrong now, and you’ll be lucky not to alienate your clients if you carry on with the same message.

In a crisis, the world becomes a very distrustful place.  (Just try coughing in public to see what I mean!)  Now you have to work 10 times harder to build trust and empathy.  If this is not your strength, then get a good copywriter to help you out, or learn to be better.  The best book I’ve found on this topic is Write Language by Allan Pease.

5. Decide how to communicate

Too many people in marketing are focused on the how (“I need to do a facebook advert”) and the what (“this is the message I need to get across”) and pay little attention to the most important thing, which is who they are targeting.  As you have seen in this blog, you need to start with the target, and end with the method by which you can get the message out.

Obviously in a lock down as we are, our routes to our target market might be limited, but then again, they may also be easier.  One would expect many people working from home will have less distractions, meetings and calls than if they were in the office, so a good old phone call (where phones are on divert) may get you through.  Post is the one medium that you might find ineffectual, unless you know your targets are still fully running at their normal trading address.

Social Media is the one medium that is being used a lot, but this will give more complications as the background noise will be high, so you have to make sure your targets and offers are top notch, in order to stand out.

The Key to marketing though is always consistency, relevance and measurement.  Whatever you do, test and measure everything, and don’t rely on just one strategy, think of 10 different ways to get your message across, and be creative.

 6. Change course

The other option you have of course is to change direction completely.  If it looks like your business is going to be one of the fatalities of this crisis, actually all is not lost.  As Simon Sinek, in his latest book The Infinite Game so eloquently put it, the aim is not to win, it is to stay in the game for as long as you can.  Think about it – you’ve built one business, so there’s no reason that you can’t build another, and use all the experience and knowledge you’ve gained along the way to make it better and easier the second time around!

So look for the opportunities outside of your business, and remember that out of every great recession come world beating businesses: in 1896 the foundations of IBM were created, in 1923 ,Walt Disney, in the late 70’s Microsoft, and in 2009, Airbnb and Uber were formed.

Finally, whatever you decide to do, make sure you set a goal, write a plan and have somebody sanity check it with you.  If you have nobody to help you, then please contact me – I am ready, willing and able to help.  I have set aside 9 -10am and 5 – 6pm every weekday to give you some FREE support, just message me, and we can book in a time.