Today I spoke to one of our colleague’s groups about marketing during uncertain times. This definitely is a time that qualifies, when everything is disrupted and you may or may not be able to work. Here are some guidelines to help:
When times are uncertain we need to take another look at two areas of marketing:
The buying psychology of our customers and changes in their needs and priorities.
Dealing with how we want to show up in the world.
Marketing Strategy Checklist: Part One – a Changing Market
Take stock of where you are:
- Who do you serve? (Describe your customer):
- What product or service do you sell to your customers?
- What problem/need does your product or service solve for your customer? (Think transformation)
Where do your customers stand? Are they still buying, slowing down or at a dead stop? Buying during economic downturns often comes back to the basics. Examples:
- If you are selling groceries – still buying. People still have to eat.
- If you are cleaning peoples’ houses – dead stop. In this situation you cannot go into peoples’ homes safely (for you or them).
- What if you sell jewellery or clothing:? (Do your customers still have disposable income?)
What is the right thing to do?
- Is it even appropriate to sell something? How do you feel about that?
- Do you need to deeply discount your product or service?
- My take?
- People still need services – so selling isn’t a bad thing (especially if people continue to need your product. For example – food is a necessary product.
- But it is important to give back to those who cannot afford to buy.
- Allow for different methods of payment rather than deep discounts. Discounting may change the perceived value of your services – which may not have changed
- Can you offer a helpful mini-program at lower cost or free in the interim?
Does this situation mean that you have to change something?
You have 3 choices to make in this situation. If demand is reduced…
1. I am not going to do anything different – I’ll wait it out
- What are the things to consider? (Like available cash, reducing expenses, maintaining lines of communications)
- Bottom line: If you cannot work in your business, work on your business.
- Business development strategy
- Marketing, products, customer communications
- get ready
2. I need different customers (my existing customers don’t need/want my products)
Who could different customers be?
- For example: Downtown Barrie restaurants are delivering meals and drinks to customers who have cash flow and appreciate good food/wine
- Another example in Ottawa: Restaurants are cooking for local food bank clients. So many need support and the local food bank doesn’t have enough capacity.
3. Change my product/service
- for my existing customers: whose needs have changed
- to expand to new customers (people who are still employed or have cash flow)
What could that product be?
- For example: A handy person cannot go into peoples’ houses. However they could start a delivery service for seniors who are at risk (and go back to renovations later)
- For example: Factories are retooling to produce medical equipment/keep their workers
- Is there a product or service you could provide to the medical community, first-responders, essential workers (or others who are still employed?)
Marketing Strategy Checklist: Part Two – Your Brand/Image
- What is your image or positioning in the market? That is what people like/think about you, your products, vision, voice on social, and package design? Why people buy from you…
- How do you want to show up for your people when times are uncertain? Be the kind of business you want supporting you…
- Helpful… tips
- Business as usual
- Reporting (informing)
- Warning (reinforcing info)
- Other? __________
- Communicate with your customers: Social, email , blogs, by phone, video….Check in on how they are doing and keep the lines open.
- Letter to businesses and residents from the Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit (courtesy of the Chamber) - December 3, 2021
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- A hybrid corporation (ie both “for profit” AND “not for profit”?) - December 3, 2021