The coronavirus has sent our nation into a financial tailspin. Mandatory closures have impacted every sector of the economy, but particularly the restaurant, fitness, nonprofit, event and public-facing industries. In order to stay afloat, many of these businesses have been forced to curtail their overhead costs. First up on the chopping block: marketing budgets.
But is that really the right call? Or should companies maintain some semblance of consumer engagement, even if it’s significantly scaled back? Perhaps now more than ever, brands have the opportunity to have authentic conversations with captive audiences. But they must find the appropriate outreach tactics or risk losing their credibility — or customers — altogether.
With Magna IV’s experience as a guide, here’s how companies can market for new normal:
Don’t sell, share. Recent reports showed consumer confidence remained steady in May after a steep decline in April. But that doesn’t mean Americans are in any rush to make non-essential purchases. Instead of the traditional hard sell, businesses should instead focus on building relationships with current and prospective clients. Companies should regularly share relevant and informational content — from live facility tours to virtual product demonstration — through traditional and digital channels.
Embrace mail. With near-constant texts, emails and social media, it’s easy for customers to feel overwhelmed by digital marketing. To help prevent brand burnout, many entities are now considering a switch to direct mail, which offers a high return-on-investment and can be easily tailored for specific audiences with variable data. As a recent industry study showed, households on average keep advertising mail for 17 days and door drops for 38 days. That means companies have multiple opportunities for their marketing collateral to be seen.
Create an experience. Customers want, and need, a distraction from COVID-19. That’s why there’s no better time to use experiential marketing (i.e., engagement marketing) techniques. Brands can interact directly, but safely with customers by designing and installing unique building wraps, innovative point-of-purchase displays or even Instagram-worthy interior and exterior design graphics.
Recognize the times. Restrictions are loosening, but Americans are still understandably apprehensive about the spread of COVID-19. Businesses can help alleviate their unease with floor graphics, posters, sandwich boards, banners and other signage that reinforces CDC-recommended health and safety guidelines and hygiene practices. Depending on their budgets, they may also want to consider offering branded hand sanitizer or cloth face coverings to reinforce their commitment to keeping employees and customers safe.
Editor’s note: Kristi Dannelley is president and co-owner of Magna IV, a more than 45-year-old Arkansas-based print and marketing businesses and one of the largest printers in the Mid-South. The opinions expressed are those of the author.