Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on the world, infecting millions and killing hundreds of thousands. Even worse is that the impacts are much broader: It appears as if we are heading for a global recession. This will increase the pressure on businesses to market appropriately to their customers and find new and cost-effective ways to connect with them.
Thankfully, despite the tough times we are in, there are ways to meet your customers where they are and market to them in ways that are inexpensive and effective. Here’s an overview of how to market during a recession.
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Social media use can be free paid, but one thing is for sure: This may not be the moment for your direct, sales-oriented message.
Social media is most effective when you provide value and position yourself as an expert in your field. During a recession, tactics that aren’t direct sales-oriented become even more important.
As such, use social media to build a connection with your customers. Highlight things that people can do in your industry that can help them save money. There’s nothing wrong with a sales message, but if you’re going to use one, make sure that your other, value-added content is far more prevalent: Don’t be self-promotional with more than 10% of your posts.
Furthermore, remember this fundamental truth: People don’t want to hear about you and your business. They are about themselves, their concerns, and their problems. Your job, as a business, is to position yourself as an answer to their issues. Use your social media accordingly.
At this moment, your customers and clients may have a million things on their mind that do not involve you or your business. They may be worried about sick family members, laid-off from their jobs, or frightened for their future. As such, this is almost certainly the absolute wrong time to give them a message that is overly sales oriented.
Thankfully, there are postcards that you can use to check in on your customers. As you can see, these cards can be customized in order to allow you to put in a specific message to your customers. This message lets you check in on them, see how they are doing, and gently remind them that you are available to help them, address any concerns or make a sale if they are in a position to do so.
The message that you use with these postcards can be critical. Make sure to ask how someone is doing and see if they need assistance with anything. If you are offering reduced-cost options or assistance for customers who are financially struggling, highlight that. Remember, the message with these postcards isn’t supposed to be sales-oriented. It’s care and compassion.
This is the time – more than ever – to find opportunities to network and get involved in community events.
Of course, community events will look different this year, thanks to the physical distancing restrictions that are in place and the bans that most governments have put on in-person events. To that end, you will likely have to stick to virtual events. This means that you will have to dig a little deeper. To that end: What business organizations already exist that can help you find these virtual events? Do you have an active Chamber of Commerce that you can join? Are there local digital networking opportunities?
If your community is starting to hold in-person events again, what events can you find? Where are they? And, more importantly, how can you help facilitate these meetings in a safe way? What can you do to position yourself as a host to these events? Do you have PPE or cleaning equipment that you can give out? Are there critical supplies you can donate that can help make these meetings happen? Remember, being involved in the community can be useful, but positioning yourself as a network host and facilitator can be even more important and personally valuable.
This is the time – maybe now, more than ever – that people are looking for help. There has been good news across the country and the world, as more and more people have risen to the challenge of the moment, met the needs of others, and donated to local charities and nonprofits.
Your community may already have a robust system of nonprofits that are ramping up their efforts to help individuals in need. If this is the case, what non-profit can you get involved with that will both suit your community’s needs and benefit your business? How can you help? Can you do more than just write a check? Who can you speak with at this non-profit in order to ensure that you take a role which is beneficial to everyone involved?
If your community doesn’t have a satisfactory answer to these questions, ask yourself this: Do you have the capacity, personal network, and financial resources to start your own charity? What unmet needs are there, and how can you and your business fill those needs? That has to be the first question you ask yourself if you are considering starting your own effort. Once you develop an answer to those questions, you can ask other ones: How can you position your business to benefit from these efforts?
Some businesses naturally fit together and can work synergistically to reduce costs and boost each other’s businesses. To that end, ask yourself this important question: What are some businesses you work well with? If you do landscaping, are there home improvement businesses you can find? If you sell children’s toys, are there kids’ clothing stores you can work with?
From there, identify joint marketing opportunities. Can you develop a joint flier or discount program that you can use to leverage each other’s networks? Can you split the cost of a print or digital ad?
Remember, at this moment, businesses are looking for ways to reduce costs, and so are people. What sort of opportunities can you identify with complimentary business services that will allow you both to grow?
Advertising and marketing during a recession are different than doing so in better moments for the economy. You have to change your pitch and your message to match the moment and ensure effective connections with your customers. However, if you do it right, you will guarantee yourself a leg up on your competitors.