How to adapt through COVID 19

  • Author: Bradley Pawson

How to adapt your business around COVID 19

The spread of COVID 19  is developing rapidly, leaving many small & large business owners uncertain about their future. There is no denying that COVID 19 will  have a significant impact on most businesses. Unfortunately, it seems these worries are justifiable, but there are certain actions you can take to protect your business. While at the same time, protecting yourself, your employees, and your customers.

Establish a remote work option

With an abundance of people already working remotely there are a lot of free tools business owners can utilize. This way teams can stay in touch and keep working even if they aren’t in the same place. Begin implementing a remote work policy that covers when you expect of your team to be online or available. Including how to communicate (via email, Slack, Skype, video call) and what tasks each team member is responsible for completing.

Woman remote working from home

Adapt the marketing plan

These next three to six months will bring many societal changes to industries across the world let alone the UK which will effect their marketing plans. Use the best and worst case scenarios to predict possible and likely changes and take alternative actions. Some areas of focus include:

  • Event-based programs. Restrictions on large gatherings are cutting into the businesses that host these events and the marketers that theme their campaigns around them. Develop alternative marketing ideas now for physical events planned for spring and summer such as streaming services that could host live broadcasts such Facebook, Youtube or even Twitch. Supply you live broadcasts with donation options to support your business while still catering to your audience and existing customers.
  • Deliver compelling content. More people will be spending time at home over the coming months. Brands can provide lighthearted and uplifting, informative information and content to people looking for support. This may also be a good time to relaunch or bring out services like VR allowing your audience to escape isolation.
  • Secure media early. Everyone is in the same boat, and everyone is looking to get their key spots to replace their lost opportunities. Work with media planners and publishers to secure access before you’re crowded out.

Optimize your digital spaces

It’s time to get those done that you put on the back burner, if it’s your blog, website or third party sites where you’re listed, you now have the time now to make sure these are fully optimised. Clean up and refine your SEO and marketing strategy to ensure your current content is visible as much as possible. Update any old and outdated information. Narrow down what may not have been working in the past and pinpoint what could have been improved on and adjust your tactics / budget accordingly.

Remote working on laptop, WordPress UK

 

Listen for changes in customer sentiment and behaviour

Even long before the COVID 19 began consumer trust in both government and large brands had already dwindled. People now are more likely to turn towards family, friends and local businesses. This current crisis seems poised to amplify the distrust customers have over brands. Brands now have a chance push back rise up to the occasion to assist during this global crisis to help reestablish trust for example.

  • It’s time to listen your consumers more than ever, it’s important to know what customers feel and do, and why. Use social platforms to monitor customer discussions about their health concerns or information needs  which are relevant to your brand. Ask sales and account management teams what they hear from the front lines. Monitor customer care emails, phone calls and service chats for changes in concerns or sentiment.
  • Balance your response. Marketers must support customers and protect customer relationships more than ever while staying honest about what the firm can and cannot deliver. Be careful about taking actions that provide short term solutions and stability (or gain) for the firm at the expense of customers trust.

Anticipate operational impacts

Challenges to product and service delivery abound during this COVID 19 crisis. Closed factories and disrupted supply chains create reduced supply on one side of the business; while customer questions will create rising service demand. It is a time for Marketers to adapt their messages to reflect on the on-going reality of the situation while staying honest to your brands core values.

How to reduce negative impact

  • Set realist exception without breaking your promises. Expectations about service levels, product launch dates, product availability are paramount. Consider pulling ad campaigns that could seem irrelevant or insincere at this present time for products you can’t be sure you can produce and deliver. Understand your customer concerns and cater your policies — for example, allowing cancellations or extending payment terms.
  • Craft proactive messages to distribute via email, social media and the web to answer common questions and concerns. Train qualified team members in functions with lower volume to help manage demand from customer service channels.
  • Offer bespoke digital delivery. Promote apps and other mobile tools and services which you could offer; if not consider adding these services to your policies to reach customers. If you offer partial online sales and delivery for your business, cater your budget to offer an even more bespoke service such as high industry brands as well as ramping up your online digital interactions with customers to keep them informed on any current information.  Understand that even though you have maximised your digital options, understand that some people will always need to hear an empathetic human voice, especially now, and be prepared to offer it.
  • Optimize the marketing budget. All organisational functions will be called on to prioritise spending. Try to avoid across-the-board cuts. Look instead for ways to drive efficiency, reduce or postpone obligations that won’t bring any value to your customers, as  it may come off as tone deaf or insensitive.

Focus on online services

In-person events and conferences are a no go so look for ways to do things online to support your B2B marketing and PR strategies. Think about creating webinar services that people can log into from the comfort of their home. Do a live video on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram that will engage your audience. Take time to produce regular videos and keep your customers informed with scheduling of uploads to keep them engaged and up to date with your current offers that will benefit your strategy even after the panic dissipates.

 

Mobile Twitter App, with a Coffee

Social media

Social media is the ideal platform for communicating directly with consumers. Using social accounts to let customers know of any changes to your service (e.g. closures, delivery issues, stock shortages, etc.).

  • If you operate a call centre and are experiencing long wait times, encourage customers to message via social media instead. You could also offer a way to email a question directly though your web site. Avoiding long queues on phone calls and making a response as quick as possible. 
  • For social media scheduling software, like Hootsuite or Sprout, make use of scheduling for your employees if your team is working remotely
  • When you have a large customer base with ongoing concerns around the situation,  start a Facebook or LinkedIn group so people can join for ongoing updates and discussions. This provides a forum for communication away from your main brand page
  • If your Facebook Messenger account is receiving an abnormal number of enquiries, set an automatic reply that outlines your expected response time

 

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