Although we are all aware of the severity of the situation, I know many of us are tired of our daily lives being consumed by COVID-19. Anyone else haunted by the image of that fuzzy little cell?
I’ve spent a lot of my time the past few weeks talking to manufacturers, distributors and industry marketing folks to see what their operations look like and what their outlooks are. Things are changing rapidly, but I am happy to say that everyone I speak to is moving just as fast; making necessary changes, taking care of employees and continuing to supply the industry with products needed to keep afloat.
COVID-19 is responsible for numerous impromptu changes to the way companies do business, and that includes marketing. A couple of months ago I was receiving an insane amount of emails daily from every company under the sun (not related to our industry) with a statement about the virus. Not much meat was in these messages other than, “We know what’s going on, and we are here to help you.”
Next, the message shifted to “We are still open and operational!” or “Order online!” Then, I began to receive the “Here is what we are doing to keep employees and customers safe,” messages, which in my opinion, are the most important messages.
So, we’ve covered all of the bases; you’re aware, you’re open and you’re taking precautions. What’s next? This is the question I’d encourage every distributor, manufacturer, rep and contractor to think about in detail, with help and guidance from their team. Don’t jump on the bandwagon of what every other company is saying.
The marketing message for your company going forward might be different than your competition; I’d argue that it should be different. What incentives do you have in place to help customers afford your products right now? How are you maintaining relationships now that people cannot meet face-to-face? Are you helping your community? Find your niche and run with it.
I’ve heard of companies letting customers give rewards dollars they’ve earned to local businesses, and others are matching gift card purchases to support restaurants in their areas. I know not everyone can implement these examples, but figure out what you can do. There are tons of ways to show support.
We are all worried about our own personal business. Prioritize your employees and your payroll, but find a way to stand out in your marketing message going forward. Customers who feel supported will stick around and support you.
Standing out and proving value in what you’re doing to help is what will keep customers coming to you after all of this.