How Do You Return From 'Crisis' Marketing? 


Here we are, not quite 'post' pandemic, but tentatively coming out the other side. We're far from recovered, but the economy gives us reasons to feel hopeful. There's an eagerness to make things happen, and businesses are moving forward. That means one more thing on the to-do list: how do we adjust from 'crisis' marketing to a post-pandemic marketing strategy and communications plan?

Damage control: making up for missteps in the customer experience

While some organisations have become experts at communicating in a crisis (and may now need to relearn how to not be in crisis mode), many will have a lot of tidying up to do. Most organisations have been overwhelmed by the sudden events of 2020 and its enduring nature, resulting in dissatisfied customers.
It's understandable why this happened, but there is an element of Covid fatigue reaching consumers who don't want to hear excuses, and that too is understandable.

From a company's perspective, when team members are furloughed or made redundant, working with a skeleton staff often leads to decreased communication with customers. 

From a consumer perspective - people couldn't get through on phone or email, they didn't get refunds, and they didn't get thorough answers. Things fell through the net, and the customer experience suffered when individuals were already fractious. We saw it with travel companies who were overwhelmed with requests for refunds. We also saw it at the opposite end of the spectrum. Companies like supermarkets were so flooded with delivery requests that they were overwhelmed and couldn't meet usual customer expectations.
Now is an excellent time to look at what didn't go well. See where you made communications mistakes and where you can make reparations. Can you win back old customers? What can you do moving forward to address any reputation damage?

Back to the future: returning to a long-term communications plan

For 18 months, companies have either gone into hibernation, had to switch gears completely, or turned on a penny to adjust their communications and processes.

Much of the last year has been about fighting fires and dealing with situations as they arise. Indeed, that was the case initially, and many have found it impossible to plan very far ahead, especially in hospitality or wellness. 

However, we can now see communication not just in relation to today and this issue, but we can see how it plays a role in the long-term development of the company's brand.

Much of what we already know remains true and even more critical when it comes to marketing than ever before:

Market segmentation

Targeting specific consumers through market segmentation results in far more significant engagement. For example, a survey by Mailchimp found that on segmented email campaigns, open rates were 14.31% higher than non-segmented campaigns, and click-through rates were 100.95% higher than non-segmented campaigns.

Customer experience

Customer experience has become one of the most fiercely researched and explored business areas, yet there's still much opportunity to improve upon it. The key is twofold - having the correct data and knowing how to leverage it to support customer wants and needs. Harvard Business Review recently highlighted that in a post-pandemic world, you are competing with the last best experience your customer had - i.e. this is a constant area of review and improvement. It's time to up your game.

Real-time information

We live in a world where we want what we want, and we want it now. There's enormous pressure on businesses to make sure they have systems in place to keep the information up to date. No one wants to get to the checkout and find that something is out of stock. Marketing and communications are now inextricably linked with the broader customer experience, including operations and sales processes.

Customer values

A company's values are very much on display in our transparent world, and they matter to consumers. The EY Future Consumer Index found that "while quality, convenience, and price still very much matter to consumer choice, factors like sustainability, trust, ethical sourcing, and social responsibility are increasingly important to how consumers select their products and services." More than 60% of people showed a willingness to switch brands off the back of these elements. Marketing is an opportunity to position those values internally amongst the team and communicate them to customers. 

Bend don't break: making space for a flexible marketing strategy 

Over the past decade, we have heard the word 'agility' in business and marketing more times than we can count. However, if ever there was a need for agility, it's in the face of a crisis. 

We all hope nothing like Covid-19 will ever happen again, but the virus itself has not gone, and we know that more pandemics are likely to happen - we hope we're collectively better prepared. Even without pandemics, seasoned business leaders will be familiar with global recessions and other happenings that can turn the world on its head overnight.
So while we have a moment to think, this is the time to consider how agile your business is

  • What if something like the pandemic were to happen again? 
  •  Do you have a contingency plan? 
  •  How will you do better next time? 
  •  How can you be more resilient?
  • What are the lessons you have learned during the pandemic, and what plans can you put in place to retain relationships with customers in the future when presented with the unexpected?

Of course, there's no single answer to this, and it involves a marketing strategy that genuinely takes business objectives into account. A marketing expert can help you create a strategy with your business values and customer needs in mind, considering company changes and the wider world, such as technological advancements and social changes.
Our team of marketing experts and Fractional CMOs can support you in creating a marketing strategy that works towards your business or organisation's short-, medium- and long-term objectives. If you want to find out more or arrange a consultation, contact us using the link below.

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