Back in March, Didit posted 5 Things Businesses Should Do in an Outbreak, a basic guide for adapting and surviving in the wake of COVID’s massive changes to consumer behavior.
We advised you to resist the temptation to cut back on marketing—and especially, digital marketing—spend. We reminded you that life will normalize again—and when it does, target audiences will remember the brands that kept marketing and advertising through the outbreak. And we encouraged you to keep putting your name out there to maintain recall in the minds of consumers.
Today, we’re back with more advice on keeping your name out there while positioning your business for success in the post-COVID era. You may be doing some of these things already. But if you aren’t, get ready to step up your game and earn more from your marketing.
Think Local with Google My Business
Even before the pandemic, consumers gravitated towards Google My Business (GMB)—the suite of visibility tools Google provides to businesses at no cost—to find and qualify local businesses. When COVID restricted travel, consumers especially sought out accurate information about local business availability. As the U.S. Small Business Administration observes:
“it’s critical to communicate openly with your customers about the status of your operations, what protective measures you’ve implemented, and how they (as customers) will be protected when they visit your business. Promotions may also help incentivize customers who may be reluctant to patronize your business.”
Google quickly responded by adding even more useful features to GMB, empowering businesses to better inform customers with status updates from basic hours of operation to specific notices such as available curbside pickup. GMB also now allows businesses with multiple locations to post updates across them all.
Despite the many businesses with GMB profiles, only a few are squeezing the fullest efficiency out of the customer communications and acquisition channel. For example, profiles without attractive photos instead display a generic “Street View” image, which does little as a digital marketing tool. Businesses that hesitate to respond to reviews or disregard GMB’s compelling new features could benefit from some swift and simple optimization.
Our advice is to visit your GMB profile today and take full advantage of GMB’s new features to maintain a strong, relevant, and profitable search engine presence in our post-COVID world.
Redefine the Human Touch (Virtually)
Realtors led the pack of business groups most impacted by COVID’s restrictions on person-to-person contact. However, the forward-thinking elite quickly instituted virtual walk-throughs and Zoom and Chime-based video conferencing to build and maintain personal relationships with prospects and customers. Trade shows (and even political conventions!) soon embraced the shift to a completely virtual model, inspiring many formerly “in-person only” activities to follow suit.
The post-COVID consumer—now accustomed to the virtual business world—openly welcomes everything from teleconferences and pre-recorded presentations to webinars and YouTube videos. And the real estate business is the proof. By removing the element of travel, realtors and customers alike find some aspects of the virtual experience surprisingly superior to old-style face to face meetings.
Our advice is to squeeze every possible marketing advantage from this new virtual environment. For example, try recording a presentation on Zoom and repurposing some of the content on YouTube or another social media channel. You could even use transcripts from conferences to populate search engine optimized web pages. Get creative and keep pushing the envelope.
Harness Internal Expertise to Inform the Community
Businesses large and small use email newsletters to maintain close contact with customers and prospects. In normal times, typical newsletter content can skew towards the self-promotional side (which isn’t a bad thing since subscribers love hearing about new products and promotions). However, in today’s environment, consumers frightened, disoriented, or otherwise concerned with an uncertain future want more from a business than the average marketing pitch.
As consumer needs shift, focus your newsletter content and tone away from your product or service line. Instead, discuss news in your community, your efforts to support local recovery, and how subscribers can lend a hand. In return, you can improve open rates, increase forwards, and earn higher brand affinity.
Embrace COVID-Induced “Downtime” to Improve Marketing Performance
For businesses dealing with post COVID inactivity, there is no better time to audit and improve your marketing performance. From paring duplicate social media accounts, to boosting performance on mobile devices, to aligning your creative and content with the mood of 2020 in order to resonate with the needs of today’s audience—now is the time to pick up the slack.
Keep an eye on competitors adapting to the new normal. Learn from the successes of the innovators—and learn even more from the failures of the ones lagging behind. As a small business—with fewer organizational layers to block or slow market-driven adaptive strategies—you can move quickly to outmaneuver competitors by pivoting your messaging, product line, and marketing spend.
Use this downtime to fully gauge your marketing strength and weaknesses and formulate a plan for growth. The modern consumer still needs time to spend at 2019 levels. And you must be ready when the demand returns later this year or (hopefully) sometime in the next one.