Managing Your Business In A Crisis/Pandemic Using Digital, Technology & Marketing.
So it’s safe to assume that there have been a lot of changes in the way we all work at the moment.
The Government recently let slip that this could be going on for another six months yet, so we’re definitely in it for the long haul which will bring a whole host of new challenges. But, with every challenge, there is an opportunity…
In this blog, I want to explore how we can identify possible opportunities for business during this crisis, and the new measures of success we should now look to track.
The rule book has in fact changed, and therefore your metrics and measures have changed too. So, naturally, your marketing must change.
Data and digital can, will and are adapting as fast as your audience to the current climate, and these things can help you map out short and long term goals.
Often when I talk to businesses, they speak about their people being their biggest asset. So it’s all about learning to use digital to keep teams together when geographical challenges come our way, to keep them motivated and united.
I’m going to break this blog down into four sections;
- Intro to digital & the current climate
- Digital within your business
- Using digital externally
- Effects on your marketing funnel
1. Intro To Digital & The Current Climate
So first up, data. Super important.
Even before this crisis, what I loved about digital was its ability to be completely subjective – it’s all about what the customers want and search for, not what we think they might like.
The main difference now to what you were doing before is the speed at which things are moving. But if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it. It’s super important to be analysing all data sources, from your website to your social media and beyond, so you can identify valuable insights into the changing world around us.
For example, the power of data can show us that people are, unsurprisingly, spending less during the COVID-19 pandemic. An example below;
This is the kind of data you can use to inform your marketing. Understanding that if you’re in these sectors that your customers aren’t looking to buy, so what else can you offer them at these times?
We’re able to see the impact that Coronavavirus is having per sector, and for businesses like ours, where we have a variety of clients from different industries this is really valuable information.
Looking at this data, we can look for opportunities to pivot, to adapt our approaches for our clients to ensure their marketing and business efforts are optimised for the current situation in both the short and long term.
So now we’ve used data and industry knowledge to see how the pandemic has initially affected sectors and businesses, we now need to start concentrating on the next phase of this thing because it’s going to all shift significantly.
Some stats for you;
Global consumers on social media are up 45%
People are looking for information on social media now that digital has become their only source of knowledge now we can’t meet with each other. This offers a great opportunity for brands to join the conversation, to listen to what users are asking and to kick off some conversations at this stage that will benefit you later on.
Facebook – cost per click down 42.95%
This is probably, in part, because of fewer people advertising, which is understandable as you look to save the pennies where you can. But if you’re in a sector with opportunity, or looking to launch into a new sector, then now’s a great time to get in front of this increasingly engaged social media audience. Plus, it’ll be cheaper with less competition!
We can also see the same for paid impressions…
Facebook – paid impressions cost down 52.54%
Another great opportunity for spreading the cost further, and increasing awareness of what you do.
I often speak about a favourite statistic of mine (don’t judge me), and that is that:
In the last 60 seconds, there’s been 6000 completely unique, never seen before searches through Google.
Mind blowing, right? It shows you how unique everyone is with their search habits and their interaction with digital. That, I’m confident, will be significantly higher right now, with a whole host of misinformation and uncertainty floating about the world. I mean, two weeks ago… who knew what a ‘furlough’ was?
If we can understand what people are asking, what they’re challenged with and how we can support them, then can design content, build answers and devise strategies that meet and greet them, rather than respond to them.
2. Digital Within Your Business
We can’t overlook the importance that digital will play in any organisation ever.
The last few weeks, we’ve seen organisations that historically have never worked from home because they have no technology, suddenly having no choice but to. That has meant that the uptake in the use of technology and digital has accelerated massively.
This, obviously, has its challenges. So some of the short term things you can do with digital in your business include:
- Lead by example, think ahead. Focus on how you, as a business leader, can embrace technology and motivate and reassure others within your business. This has long term benefits.
- Communication. We host daily video conferences with everyone in our team, translating Government updates and answering all questions transparently. Keeping up the speed and effectiveness of communication during uncertain times helps our staff.
- Re-assess current activity, scheduled posts or automation. Modify it accordingly because believe me, what you had planned, isn’t as important anymore!
- Security access to networks. The downside of all this sudden uptake in digital technology is the number of vulnerabilities. Take a look at cybersecurity best practices and ensure everyone’s following process.
Setting standards with these things now can help in the long term. Speaking of which, in the long term of being a digital and technology working business I’d suggest:
- Making your brand personable. It’s about people now, no longer the logo or a set of brand colours, but the realistic nature behind our current situation. We can see into each others houses and personal lives now, it’s time for your people to shine.
- Be transparent, fear isn’t productive. Don’t hide things from your staff, or delay in explaining what the business is going through. It will bring a sense of ownership within the team and positively impact most things.
- Culture and long term isolation. After a while, we’ll move past the ‘novelty’ factor of working from home which will bring a new round of challenges. Look into how you can use digital to bring culture. For example, things we’ve looked into as a business at Sleeping Giant Media for digital culture include…
3. Using Digital Externally
We’ve been exploring and experimenting with the idea of the change curve from Kubler-Ross. It displays the changes and stages of dealing with grief but is often used to demonstrate organisational change.
We’ve looked at this and identified that it can be really powerful to align with your marketing efforts, alongside with what’s going on with the pandemic.
As you can see it mirrors the global situation going on right now. And we’ll all currently be in different stages of the curve, and will continue to slip about it for a little while as we adjust to new situations as both businesses and individuals.
What we’ve unofficially created is a ‘Pandemic Trend Curve’. Breaking it out into the following…
- Discovery (learning about the virus)
- Realisation (oh wait no, it’s going to affect us)
- Panic (self-explanatory)
- Normalising (acceptance of the situation)
- Recovery (hopefully coming soon)
We can move these stages into a curve and attempt to identify the questions people will ask during these phases. Therefore informing our marketing strategies.
During the discovery phase, peoples search habits will be different in comparison to other stages.
The pandemic is starting, we are hearing more about it but it doesn’t affect us. It’s ‘office talk’ rather than boardroom talk. It trends, and businesses use the trend to push their reach. Parodies and pop culture content appears.
The pandemic is beginning to impact our thoughts and decisions as leaders. It’s calm and rational, and some of the elements of the business begin to react (such as working from home). Content becomes more factual and informative all round. Misinformation in spread whilst people look for verified news outlets. Small sections of society increase their focus on Government level instruction.
It affects us now. The impact increases and the population moves to react, often in the form of panic. We’re now looking for short term solutions and answers, evaluation the potential impact this could have. Society shows signs of panic and starts to bulk buy – searching for hand washing, anti-bacterial, masks etc. Businesses make snap decisions to protect cash flow (such as redundancies, reduction in tools etc).
The plans are enacted and the population moves into getting used to the new normal (working from home, isolation). Businesses that can work in a digital capacity continue to operate, and other businesses begin the stages of recovery or start to pivot to find new opportunity.
Green shoots start to appear, the hope of the return to normal emerges. The long term.
At every stage, we’ve got to think about the questions people are going to be asking or looking for, and work these into our marketing strategies. Thinking ahead to the long term, rather than ‘waiting to see’ what might happen is the thing that’ll push your marketing ahead of others.
As you can see, we can attach the curves to eachother. Things like the introduction of the furloughing process can kickstart the change curve again for businesses or individuals and will add even more changes to search and digital behaviours.
4. Effects On Your Marketing Funnel
With changes in the landscape, must come changes in audience behaviour.
We’ve already seen this through the number of changes to our daily lives, and the impact that has on our use of search and digital generally. And subsequently, if it wasn’t clear already, our marketing has to change.
So now it’s time to combine the curve we’ve just looked at with the marketing funnel.
Generally, as marketers, we give focus to all areas of the marketing funnel. If we ignored one, it wouldn’t work so well! However, when you overlay the change curve, it adds in another dimension. We now have to consider what people are doing at each stage of the curve, as well as that of our funnels.
Some peoples pipelines will be massively affected by the impact of Coronavirus, with certain industries having to pull out from their service providers in order to save their cashflows. Believe us, we’ve all been affected by this.
As an organisation, we are not sector-specific which is helping us majorly. From a marketing perspective though, we have had to (and so do you) hit the reset button. What success was a month ago, is not success now. We’ve had to reevaluate and reset expectations, thinking outside of the box and creating unique opportunities for ourselves.
Looking back at the curve, we’ve reacted to the change in digital nature and business, and have created the Digital Furlough Group on LinkedIn. A place for those digitally minded, to work together and form a community outside of their workspace.
All those who have been furloughed can’t work. But there is some volunteer work out there that they would be useful assets towards with the likes of digital skills.
I’m currently looking at obtaining Italian search data, as they’re about two weeks ahead of us with the pandemic, and looking at how the likes of the NHS or other information providers can translate those searches and adapt their strategy to preempt and assist the UK population. This would be a project we’d love to get the Digital Furlough group involved with since there’s no commercial benefit to us. At this point, we’re just looking to help!
During the last couple of weeks, we were meant to be exhibiting and hosting workshops at the B2B Marketing Expo in London which was postponed until later in the year. The team really quickly reacted and adapted the situation, hosting our already-written workshops digitally through video conferencing. Using search data from previous years at the event, and by what we knew people would search for when they found out the event was cancelled, we ran some PPC on these queries. This PPC directed them to a landing page where they were able to sign up for our free live digital talks instead as we understood the importance of digital skillshare during times like these would be paramount.
There were no other businesses advertising on these terms or in such a nature around the event (despite hundreds signed up for the physical event). One of the largest in Europe! And we managed to grow the database almost perfectly in line with our average when exhibiting there during previous years.
It’s all about finding those opportunities first.
We’ve also introduced reactive content types, thinking about what our audience wants to see during these times. For example, I now host a twice-weekly Business As Unusual Show on a Wednesday and Friday where I talk to other businesses about their challenges, sharing advice.
We continued to reach our existing audience with this content, and have managed to attract new ones too. As you can see, we’ve seen a significant impact on our website traffic and database growth through these reactive campaigns.
None of us is able to see much happening bottom of funnel now, but what we’ve been able to do by adapting our approach as a business is focus on generating more conversations, adding more people to our database for later and introduce more people to our brand.
When we move to the next stage of recovery, we’ll be in a nice strong position having worked hard on these areas of the marketing funnel and curve.
I suggest if your pipeline isn’t as strong as it was, you need to reset your expectations. Focus more on the See and the Think fo the marketing funnel, overlaying the stages of the curve into this.
You need to now focus your marketing and business strategy on the normalisation phase. We’re quick to adapt as a human race, especially when it’s something so out of our control like a pandemic, so I think that phase will come quite soon and you can be ready for it.
So, that was my look at how to manage what’s going on during this crisis/pandemic/drama through the use of digital, marketing and technology.
If you’d like to know some more, or maybe see how we could help you, then please do get in touch.
And below I’ll link some resources I think you might find useful!
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