A lot of businesses have been impacted by the recent COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, and the knock-on effect for the economy has been a decidedly bleak one. Businesses around the country have been forced to change their operating practices, temporarily close, rotate to mail order only, or simply close altogether.

But in the digital age there’s a glimmer of hope in such times of crisis, with regards to small businesses with an online presence at least. With digital marketing we’re able to formulate plans and ideas that help businesses cope with disruptions, and even, as we’ll explain later, ride the wave of the crisis and reap the rewards when the panic is over.

It might be a little tricky to come up with, but a marketing strategy can be built around the shifting economic tides we’re facing – particularly when you keep aware of the businesses which are most affected and also of course the way consumers will potentially react.

Current Market Effects

Currently the Coronavirus pandemic has forced most of western Europe into lockdown. Shops and restaurants are closed and small businesses are shut for the time being. Travel and holidays are also off the table, meaning the majority of consumer industries (except grocery stores and online) are out of commission. In fact analysis points to the disease potentially changing business sectors that have been most impacted by it.

Shops that are trading the most currently are the ‘key’ high street food and grocery stores, as well as websites selling goods online. Amazon and eBay have been making a lot of sales, and food delivery apps, such as JustEat and UberEats have also been ramping up sales and offers, particularly discounts for NHS workers.

In the bigger economic sectors like finance and business services, such as legal and accounting, we’re also seeing unprecedented reactions to the economic downturn due to changing stock prices. Some companies are looking to reduce costs by neglecting these kinds of services, and others may not even consider spending additional money at all on new projects.

So all in all, if you’re a small business outside of one of the affected sectors, but not exactly an ‘essential’ business, you may be seeing reduced interest and trading. This is definitely a good time to focus on marketing online, as cheaply as possible, and improving your website and SEO (search engine optimization) in-house, or if need be, alongside people working from home.

Digital marketing thankfully has few components that require an office, and if you’re in good contact with your IT team, and can potentially improve or modify the website remotely or with a skeleton crew, there’s a huge opportunity here to upgrade and expand some of the cheaper aspects of the practice, such as logging into email marketing sites, making blog posts, designing landing pages and Google Ads to bring people to them, or simply brainstorming what to do once the lockdown lifts.

As Lockdown Eases

Of course, this is what is on people’s minds most – as COVID-19 clears up, which businesses will see an initial surge of customers once restrictions relax and the economy re-opens? This is where marketing can really do your business a lot of favours. A good strategy is to begin pre-emping how customers will surge to certain sectors and absolutely take advantage of that fact. For example, if you’re a travel company, or you specialise in retail, or you run tour groups, all of your focus in the time you can’t trade, should be on getting people to be aware of you up to and right when you can beg.

In terms of rolling out this strategy, it all comes down to the amount of effort you put in with your already-existing marketing strategy, as well as supplementing that strategy with quick, off the bat methods, such as paid advertisements. By all means, go back to your current marketing situation and tweak it. Change landing pages, add some new blog articles, make a lot of social media posts, but the quickest way to hurry up your strategy in anticipation of a lockdown decrease is to get some of those Facebook posts and boost them.

The more post-lockdown and lockdown decreasing content you have, and the better it’s boosted, the better your response will be to a rising tide of consumer interest, especially if you are in one of the right sectors. Make no mistake, these last few weeks might have been one of the most annoying dry spells and your company may feel like it’s on its last legs – but paying attention and reacting quickly with smart marketing aimed at lockdown topics can potentially help your business bounce back faster.

Strategy For Post-Lockdown

The biggest question for everybody is just when the lockdown will formally end, or if this is some kind of never-ending scenario where the virus becomes a part of everyday life and the economy is never the same again. Well, in the UK the government is proactively looking to ‘restart’ the economy, and this means we may see the lockdown end before the end of the year, then again, it may not. Some media outlets are even saying things might not return to ‘business as usual’ once the disease clears up.

There is no guarantee of when this whole thing is going to come to a stop, so the best strategy for marketers is to stay on the pulse of the issue. As we’ve said above it’s imperative to be quick on the draw and get your marketing messages out in anticipation of some kind of easing of restrictions, but it’s even more important to have an oven-ready strategy for when the lockdown ends, a strategy you can deploy immediately and start designing ways to offer deals or incentives that incentivise customers to spend money with your business now the economy is moving again and things have got back to normal. After such hard times people are looking to move forward, especially in the current economic climate.

For your business it’s important to reflect on the things that have happened in the last few months. Sitting down and brainstorming an imaginary scenario where things go back to normal overnight can be a good exercise for your team. What’s the best way to bring in customers as fast as possible if people could start doing business as usual again tomorrow? Which demographics would be best to target? Which groups will potentially be reached most by your marketing efforts?

It really is up to you, but in our opinion, the best way is to have pre-made content, a slew of deals designed to attract customers, and another watertight social media and Google Ads campaign – all ready to go, the minute they announce the lockdown has ended. This strategy we’ll refer to again as ‘oven -ready’ – it just has to be put in and baked, it’s pre-designed with one purpose in mind.

How To Enact Your Plan

  • Brainstorm – Who is your customer base, and how are they going to react to relaxing or even removed restrictions? How can you put your foot in the door so they notice your business? How will they react to changing circumstances?
  • Design – Your ad strategy needs a bit of an overhaul but otherwise, stick with what you know. Build ads or ideas for both an easing and end of lockdown, and have these on hand. Get ready to roll them out at a moment’s notice.
  • Offers – This is going to help your draw so much when lockdown ends, as people will be hungry for deals yet also willing to spend money when that first post-lockdown paycheck comes in. Offers can also attract people who have been financially stretched by the lockdown.
  • Content – As always content is everything, your web content must reflect changing attitudes, and if it’s good enough and you prepare it well in advance it can be a huge source of consumer interest and increase Google rankings with SEO.
  • Compassion – One of the best ways to come back after a crisis situation is to market your business based on its usefulness to customers in need, focusing on what it can offer that helps things get back to normal.

As always you can get in contact with us if you want to further tap into our digital marketing experience, or just get in touch for any other reason. We also have a companion book to this blog on Amazon by our very own Nick Bagga, which deals exclusively with the world of digital marketing for professionals.