Business survival in this pandemic is going to take more than hope — it’s going to take a clear, well-defined strategy and a whole lot of grit.
I mean, imagine if we got a dollar for every time we heard someone say, “These are crazy times” in the past few months…
It is true though — these are crazy times. Trust me, I know.
As the director of a digital marketing agency in Singapore, my agency, like most other local businesses, have been thrust into an unprecedented economic climate. Most of us are taking a hit and it is understandably an incredibly stressful time.
So what is any business to do to survive these challenging times?
There are no easy answers but these four principles have stood the test of time through many other crises. So while things might seem crazy right now, keep a clear mind and remember these tips.
1. Hold your nerve and remember what your brand proposition is.
Declining sales and general end-of-world vibes can send even the biggest companies into a panic-driven frenzy of doing whatever it takes to make money.
This could mean going down-market (a move that can tarnish your brand if not handled well) to attract new customers, or spending all your marketing dollars on nothing more than offers and tactical promotions.
But consider this:
Instead of taking the huge risk of reinventing or undervaluing your brand in a volatile commercial environment, use this opportunity to audit and reinforce your brand.
Which brings us to our next point.
2. It is understandable (and prudent) to penny-pinch in these times but don’t be too quick to slash your marketing budget.
When companies tighten their purse strings, the marketing budget tends to be one of the first line items to go.
For one, you need to engage your current customer base now more than ever. Remember the business adage that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers?
Your loyal customers will prove to be your most reliable source of revenue, and you should have a game plan on nurturing and retaining these relationships (a process that by the way, is five times cheaper than trying to acquire new customers).
Secondly, this like every other crisis before, will not last forever. So do more than thrive — play the long game and set your company up to be more resilient when the dust has settled.
3. Digital marketing gives you more bang for your buck.
In a climate where every dollar spent must be justified, digital marketing gives you more control and precision over your marketing spend. That is provided you have a clear marketing strategy with well-defined business goals, of course.
But done right, it can give you key insights on a granular level on who your audience is, and what types of content convert.
Plus, its performance can be measured so you know exactly what your ROI is, and have a constant source of real-time market feedback on what’s working and what’s not.
Businesses are ultimately built by people, for people. Go back to basics and ask yourself “What do your customers truly need in these times?”
In prosperous times, marketers can get caught up with demographics, snazzy ads and new product launches.
But at the core, the hook tends to be simplistic: You’re feeling great about your life right now, you have some disposable income … Hey, we have a product that fits your lifestyle to the T!”
In health crises like SARS and the present one, this type of sales pitch is tone-deaf. And it is not simply because people are less willing to spend money right now.
You just have to think about the waves of panic buying around the world to realise that an emotion like fear, can drive dramatic consumer responses.
Or think about the hoarding of toilet paper and realise that even if it is completely irrational, people will spend more money on things that make them feel better about a crazy situation (in this case, the reassuring thought that their butts will be clean even as the world ends).
According to this Harvard Business Review report, businesses that fail to acknowledge the psychology behind these consumer changes will ultimately fail to give what their customers crave and need in these times. That is, like every other human being right now — reassurance, empathy and a sincere sense of solidarity.
Fail to do that, and miss out on the opportunity to build a genuine brand that people trust and love for a long time coming.
Emerging from these challenging times with minimal battle scars is a war better fought together, and we want to help businesses in the best way we know how.
If you need help to maintain business growth during this crucial period, check out our Digital Marketing Relief Package. Because if there were any time for us to rally together and help each other, this would be it.
That’s all I have for now. Till next time!