Regardless of what happens next, coronavirus/COVID-19 is here to stay. It’s the new normal, even if a vaccine becomes available in the next year. This lockdown is unprecedented; I’ve never known anything like this and being in my mid-40s, I probably never will again.
Many businesses have shut their doors and furloughed their employees during the coronavirus pandemic. Yet many more are maintaining some kind of continuity and able to continue as normal though employees are working from home. With revenues down, some are wondering whether marketing is a good use of the budget right now – after all, anything can happen. If this sounds like you, read on. Despite these fears, now is the right time to build a relationship with your existing customers and reach out to new customers.
Your Customers are At Home
Whether your ideal customer or client is B2B or B2C, they are at home. Furloughed or working, they will be interacting with the internet and that means buying stuff. Arguably, because they no longer have two commutes, they have more time to spend looking for goods and services. Furloughed employees have a lot of time on their hands and contrary to popular belief, they aren’t spending all day on Netflix. Humans need variety in what they do and most are finding some productive time – starting side hustles or taking up new or past neglected hobbies. No matter what you’re selling, you have customers willing to buy and able to afford it during coronavirus.
Your B2B Customers Are Already Planning for Post-Lockdown
Directors, executives and senior managers have been busy working away on a post-COVID19 business plan for when the country re-opens and they are back in the workplace. Those who have not been furloughed are trying their best to prepare for the future, months and even years in advance. I suspect there is a lot of soul searching going on in the virtual boardrooms right now about how to adapt to such a crisis in future – not just pandemics, but natural disaster and even the climate crisis for those taking it seriously. I suspect “adaptability” will be the business buzzword for 2020 and beyond, but one with meaning and intent rather than presenting merely the veneer of action. They need products and services if not for now, then certainly for later in the year and beyond.
Your Customers Are Spending More Time on Social Media
“Digital detox” probably isn’t on many people’s minds right now. Some may be considering using their social media time more effectively – to use it to find new brands, and products and services. Yes, we all spend time mindlessly scrolling but this pandemic made a lot of people mindful of this wasted time. Now is the time for businesses to rethink their social media strategy. Ideally you should spend more time marketing through the channels that have proven most effective, and look at those that are not effective and consider precisely why they aren’t working. Do they need a rethink or abandonment? Look at your metrics to find out, but that’s way out of the scope of this article.
Your Customers Crave Human Connection
This is a unique situation for a lot of people. Even introverts who feel most comfortable in their own company are struggling with this level of social isolation. We all seek connection, something we’ve taken for granted and perhaps even neglected in the age of social media. It never went away. People are, after all, social creatures. But now we’re missing it.
The types of business that appear to be thriving under the current circumstances are those putting empathy at the heart of their marketing, or not marketing in any meaningfully conventional way, if at all. In a previous post, I wrote about social selling. This is where you build a brand around social value rather than advertising, by presenting a human face rather than a corporate mission statement, by showing the people that make up your business rather than the self-congratulation of your own success.
This isn’t so much the ideal time to move to that kind of marketing strategy, as it is the vital time to do it. They want to see you, not sales figures. They want to see human faces smiling in a dark time, not a carefully manicured promotional photo of hired models in your workplace being paid to look happy.
They Have the Time to Read Longer Consumable Content
Which brings me to what I do: your blog. Most of your marketing likely focuses on emailing lists, and social media. But these are just two part of your marketing equation – conventional banner ads and pay per click are still a thing but you’ve probably neglected your blog in recent years. Customers are reading blogs and two types are proving especially popular:
- The coffee break read format (around 300 words)
- The long-form (1,000 words plus) with 2,000 words plus reportedly given extra weight by search engines these days
According to recent statistics, the average length of top ranked content is 1,100-1,300 approx. Statements about the death of the business blog is categorically untrue. They may have changed and they may have adapted, but they are here to stay.
Blogs Are Changing, and so Are Writers
How we professional blog writers produce content and how our clients market them have changed since I started this in 2013. Blogs are no longer the major access point yet the demand for quality content has never been higher. Your customers will read your content if it is valuable and well-promoted (you will need to promote it on social media and through your emailing list). Therefore, they remain a useful part of a long-term marketing strategy.
Budgets may be down, especially for marketing. But now is not the time to cut back on your marketing effort. Instead, see it is an investment at a difficult time. It’s a vital part of your sales network, especially now.