The human body is able to respond to a threat in three ways: fight, flee, or freeze. In our case, a pandemic is a threat, and business is the organism that has faced it. It has already died out: according to a study by Admixer, most companies significantly cut budgets across all channels except social media in the second and third quarter of 2020. Now it’s time to either run – leave the market, or fight – that is, adapt to changed consumer behavior.
Our team chose the last variant. Since the beginning of quarantine, our agency has increased its staff by one and a half times and the number of projects has doubled. In addition, we have merged with three other agencies into one consortium. The consortium format minimizes production costs. Each participant works on the task where he has reached the highest level of skill, and closes his front of work in the best possible way – efficiently, quickly, using a minimum of resources. This is especially important in a critical situation.
We help our partners and their businesses fight. Anti-crisis measures are different for each company, but there are several general recommendations.
1. Redefine your relationship with your audience.
The company should focus on its customer. Do you know all these jokes about men with a temperature of 37.2? The word “client” is not in vain masculine, but “company” is feminine. Now the company must take care of the client, like a woman about a cold beloved man.
This can be accomplished through the creation of new products to cover health and safety needs, reporting of existing but not obvious customer value, the development of new entertainment or educational online content. Companies need to become more intimate with their target audience than ever, both emotionally – for example, using email newsletters, and physically – for example, by making the delivery of goods more convenient or by launching remote provision of services.
By the way, about mailings. According to the Omnisend platform, email openings in 2020 increased by 30% compared to 2019, and conversion rates increased by 20%. But you should only count on this communication channel if you improve the quality of your email content. HubSpot found that 17% of people unsubscribe from emails that they think are overly promotional, 10% if they think the content has lost value, 5% because the content of the emails does not meet their expectations.
Consumer behavior studies say that people are still in a mode of economy and “choose with money” only “their own” brands. Therefore, the brand’s task is to literally become related to the consumer. One way to do this is to personalize your audience. According to the ON24 study, only 33% of marketers believe their business can handle it. This situation is the perfect moment to finally fix it.
2. Change communication channels.
Obviously, everyone has gone online. And it is through online tools that it is now worth communicating: both informing the audience and placing orders. Companies should reconsider their costs for print and outdoor advertising, TV and radio. But it’s definitely worth boosting on SEO, search ads and social media. It should be remembered that in such a tense environment, you should not spam people. In the first couple of seconds, make it clear that you know about their true needs. Your advertisement should be like a signal of an airplane “I am mine”.
3. Optimize costs.
Reduce possible living and entertainment expenses, negotiate with the landlord to reduce the cost during the quarantine period. Also, now is the ideal time to debug the processes within your company: review the salary fund, link salary to the KPI for each position, see for which positions you can combine responsibilities, universalize each employee as much as possible. But it is very important to conduct all these events in such a way as not to demoralize colleagues, but, on the contrary, to convey to them the key idea: a crisis is time to become more effective.
4. Conduct research and analysis.
Theater begins with a coat rack, treatment begins with a diagnosis, and a marketer’s job must begin with analysis. It has always been this way, but now it is more critical than ever. Sad as it may seem, the analytics we relied on before the pandemic are no longer relevant. Consumer behavior, needs, habits and preferences have changed. You need to start all over again. Conduct A / B tests and focus groups, research issues based on customer reviews and directly “in the fields”, conduct surveys, calls and questionnaires. Analyze and correct, see how the situation has changed, and then analyze and correct again. This process will be permanent for some time. Everything that can be improved is optimized, everything that cannot be thrown away.
Monitor changes and new trends, and in accordance with them, work on mistakes will have to be done almost every day. Rapid adaptation will now replace the reinforced concrete plan for the five-year plan. It is now important for the management to switch to an anti-crisis management regime with a short planning horizon.
5. Develop a new strategy.
A strategy for 2021 is needed, but now it will set the motion vector rather than a rigid framework that may become irrelevant at any time. And in this strategy, I would advise you to shift the focus from increasing brand awareness to lead generation, from attracting a new audience – to retaining the same one, from competitor research – to user experience research, from fighting objections – to working with loyal customers. Upsells, cross-selling, loyalty programs, brand advocates – that’s what can save a business in a crisis.
Now is not the time to hit the sparrows with massive and aggressive advertising – everyone is already under stress. You need to invest in relationships with active customers and encourage them to make recommendations, which means making them an additional channel for attracting consumers. A crisis is also the perfect time for alliances with partners or competitors: mergers, affiliate marketing, co-branding, asset sharing, and the like.
A good plan today is better than a flawless plan tomorrow (C) George Patton
You need a plan, but you need to be ready at any time to replay your plan in real time. Flexibility and antifragility will now become the new strategy for business leaders.