The year 2020 brought more uncertainty than anyone would have ever expected. COVID-19 put a halt on most of the U.S. and global economies and all public and social activities. There was also civil unrest, inclement weather, and added health crises that raised additional concerns, mostly bleeding into 2021. Although we’re happy to see the economy steadily picking up, no one is surprised that we’re still feeling the slight effects of a global recession. Thankfully, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and America will continue to push forward towards recovery. This article explores how small businesses can keep providing effective online marketing even when the world is recovering from a global recession.
Did Your Marketing Plan Consider COVID-19?
Global recessions do happen, but there are five things you can do now to prepare for them!
Smart business owners know there will be times of recession and economic crisis. Yet, they’ll have to do more than just expect challenging times. They must prepare for them, by implementing online marketing strategies and plans that will help sustain profit and growth.
In fact, during rough economies, the strategies to implement should be more about generating buyers than selling. As such, businesses will need to have innovative online marketing strategies in place that give customers exactly what they need. Below, we’ve provided five tips for small businesses that can help keep them operating during a global crisis.
In 2020, Smart Insights surveyed over 300 businesses to learn which ones had a marketing strategy in place for a recession. The graphic below shows what they learned: Nearly half of the companies they surveyed did not have a strategic plan for survival during a global recession.
Source: Smart Insights
1. With online marketing, you must first understand the difference between value and price.
Have you considered the purchasing behaviors and thought processes of customers during a global crisis? Most companies think of search intents and buying patterns when they’re creating online marketing strategies. However, there is one key thing business owners must understand during a crisis: Consumers are looking at more than just the “price” of a product or service; they’re also looking at “value.”
We all know that price is simply the offered cost of a product or service. Yet, just because an item has a low price doesn’t automatically mean the deal also has value. Although some businesses and customers associate low prices with added value, these concepts are not the same. Not only is value what the customer perceives as an item’s “worth,” but also it’s what they actually get in return for what they paid.
So, when customers perceive they’ll receive more from a purchase, that is their interpretation of value. Most consumers want to get more value out of a product or service than the price they pay. Therefore, when businesses convey this perceived value in their online marketing strategies, they’re likely to generate more leads and potential buyers. They must find creative ways to bring value to every online offer, especially in a global crisis, because ‘value’ at a great price always wins.
2. Know the value solution your product/service brings to the customer experience, then convey it through online marketing.
Do you know your brand worth? If not, this section could help your business understand the valued solution it brings to its consumers. When you present a product or service to the public through online marketing, each consumer places an automatic value on it regardless of the price. With that in mind, it’s crucial for businesses always to ensure their product or service brings extraordinary value to its’ customers at all price ranges.
If companies focus on pushing low prices and deals to consumers during turbulent economic times, they could inadvertently decrease brand loyalty. So, instead of having your brand associated with a “deal” or low price, ensure it’s consistent with the “valued experience” and solution it brings to your customers. If value and a relevant solution are associated with your brand at any price point, consumers will pay.
In a nutshell, people will pay a little more for something they value. But most importantly, you’ll want to ensure value actually is coming with the product or service. Brand loyalty comes when products and services solve everyday problems and offer the best solutions to life challenges – thus, adding value. And during economic hardships or global crises, consumers tend to go into “panic” mode. However, if they perceive, or have already experienced, that your product/service is reliable, effective, and adds value, they’ll remain loyal customers and trust the value of your brand.
3. Online marketing strategies are successful when companies understand what customers value and need and then ensure their solution fits.
Especially during hard times, consumers will gauge a service or product’s value and worth based on the total experience with the brand. They consider the product or service’s personal gain (rewards), its benefits, and overall functionality and usability compared to cost.
However, what is most important about a product or service brand is its’ trustworthiness. Customers will always value brands they can trust and rely on. When they believe that the product or service will deliver on the promised experience, they will pay for it. Yet, value comes only after the product or service has PROVEN true through their experience with it relative to what they paid.
So, when companies understand that consumers value brands they can trust in, they should deliver on the promised experience. Learn more about the Trustworthy Brand Value Equation.
Communicating Customer Needs through Online Marketing
You know you have a service or product that your targeted audience needs and will value, yet how do you convey that through online marketing? Easy! Utilizing content marketing, brand messaging, and email marketing automation will undoubtedly help. Once you understand that you have what people need, it’s a matter of making your solution known to the public.
SEO content marketing and brand messaging help companies reach the right consumers and meet customer needs. Businesses just have to know how to ensure their customers’ searches match with their products and services. And working with a professional marketing firm will ensure lead generation and that your business gets found online.
Does your solution fit, and is its purchase relevant?
These questions are critical as each business owner must always consider them before their product or service goes to market. Companies design and provide products and services to meet needs and offer solutions to life problems. And during a global crisis, for instance, companies must be prepared to make adjustments to ensure their products or services remain relevant and continue to solve problems.
For example, let’s say an air filter manufacturer begin making facial masks for healthcare facilities, pharmacies, and general retail stores. In both cases, their general air filter manufacturing AND the facial masks provided real-time solutions for their clients and customers.
4. Especially during hard times, it’s vital to keep giving people what they need through high-quality customer service and care.
Regardless of the times and seasons a market is in, businesses must always provide consistent, quality customer service and care. Not even a global crisis can offer a reason for cutting quality service and/or product manufacturing. Companies can make adjustments where necessary but still provide quality and bring added value to the consumer experience.
For instance, it’s okay for businesses to slightly lower prices or even adjust to offering only essential products and services for a limited time. Such changes will continue to sustain solid revenues for companies without having to lower quality standards.
When times are challenging, what people need most is confidence, trust, and quality assurance in their purchasing, be it a product or service. Furthermore, how that product or service is delivered to them is also vital to their overall experience. When consumers lose confidence in a brand and a company’s ability to provide quality customer service, those same consumers eventually abandon that business. They’ll also tell family and friends about their experience, and they too will leave the brand. Maintaining high-quality customer service is part of why companies must consistently keep people happy regardless of troubled times.
5. Stay connected to your customers online and be willing to make necessary adjustments.
Just as digital online marketing is fluid, so should the way you market your business solution and stay connected to customers. When you connect with consumers and continue providing them with the essential products and services they need, you show that you value them and their patronage. People make purchases based on value, the trustworthiness of a brand, reliability, relevance, and quality service during life’s challenges. Then, after all that, they’ll consider the price and if the cost is “worth it.” Make sure your business always makes the price well worth it.
Online marketing is an innovative tool businesses continue to leverage to stay connected with the happenings in their customers’ lives. And great companies know what their clients value, how they make purchases, and which online platforms they use most. In a global crisis, businesses must understand that, like them, their customers are also trying to “survive” until the trouble blows over. The moment a company learns to strategize around making online connections and meeting a consumer’s immediate need is the moment that company is well on its way to realizing online marketing success.
It’s also better to focus more on the customers you already have over trying to attract new ones in crisis. For instance, companies can learn to ‘love the ones they’re with’ even more and gain additional leads from satisfied customers. Be quick to ensure your products and services bring value and solutions to customer problems and meet immediate needs. When you provide a positive experience for customers, you build brand loyalty and maintain, even during a recession.
Could your small or mid-sized business use an online marketing partner for success?
BUILDINGBLOCKS is always here for you! Allow us to help your company develop a marketing strategy through IMPACT that will include:
- A creative way to add value to your products or services at any price point
- Relevant solutions to your customers’ problems
- An innovative customer experience with your brand that also meets their needs
- Ways to stay connected with your targeted audience
- A plan to continue carrying out high-quality customer service and care