Creating a marketing plan takes a lot of thought in any event, but with the current uncertainty, it has become a skill. It has been good practice to create a long-term marketing strategy that aligns with your business plan, alongside an annual, granular marketing plan. This outlines all activities and is set against timeframes and budget.
But with the Coronavirus pandemic and the easing of lockdown, many people are having to adapt and work on the back foot. What can you do to set out plans when you are not sure of the future environment?
Planning for the unexpected
It is worth noting that, no matter the changing circumstances, you should know your future aims. These probably won’t have changed.
What will have changed is the marketing channels available and the needs of your customers. For many people, longer-term plans have been put on hold as they deal with the immediate future of reopening stores, bringing people back from furlough or having to make tough decisions about cashflow and staffing.
Little things, huge impact
The main thing you can do as a supplier is re-evaluate your product offer and services to check they still align with what your customers need. You may find that, as well as your bread and butter services, you have to create a short-term solution that can help customers in their current predicament.
Spend some time thinking about and talking to your customers – are their pain points still the same? Are they working with a smaller team? Can you help by modifying your invoicing to assist with cashflow? Little gestures can go a really long way, and the one thing that Coronavirus has brought about is that many people feel they can be more honest about what they are going through.
For prospects, spend some time looking at what your entry point product/ solution is. Will it still work, or is it way off the mark in terms of pricing, tie-in periods and issues that it aims to solve? Focus on how this can be adapted to work in the new environment.
Using content wisely
We like to think of marketing plans as a broad base for activities, and we use them as a framework to build content plans around. What we are seeing now is the swift evaluation of marketing channels. Which ones can you still use? What do you need to make these work for you?
We write a lot of content for clients, but we also have others where blogs are only part of their marketing arsenal. Some spend a fortune on face-to-face marketing at events. If, like them, your marketing has been focussed on face-to-face exhibitions, the rug has been ripped from beneath your feet with the current pandemic. What else can you do?
Think about your messaging and how you can use content as the backbone of your marketing activities – even if it is just for now. Using content as a driver to get you a virtual meeting is an excellent use of time and money, particularly if you can create some marketing material which has longevity, outlasting this current hiatus.
Think of an e-book, or a free webinar with a downloadable PDF guide. Spend some time filming clips of you sharing some advice or demoing a product. Work on your social media channels, grow your audience and market to them online. Don’t forget – they can’t get to the expos either, but they will still be looking for help.
Check under the bonnet
We would also recommend reviewing your existing marketing material. Spend some time looking at your website and see if there are pages or information that needs updating or removing.
Check your images and favicon – are they looking a bit out of date? Could you spend this time updating your branding?
Look at your existing content – does it still work for the current climate? We recommend doing a quick weekly check of your short-term plan, then looking at things in more detail on a monthly basis.
Marketing for the head and the heart
For the time being, when you are looking at your marketing material, check it works for the head and the heart. We have all been – and indeed are still going through – an incredibly traumatic experience. Be sensitive and don’t assume. Ensure the words and pictures you choose aren’t offensive.
Make your marketing messages clear and tie them in with your brand values so they make an impact for the right reasons.