15 May Hi Ho, Hi Ho! Marketing after lockdown
The government has just acted to relax some of the lockdown rules. As our customers are getting back to work, we are experiencing an increase in activity as they move from a holding pattern of situation-sympathetic messaging, to more overt promotion. There are obviously companies who have had a really hard time this spring and some will continue to struggle and may not yet survive. Those of us who remain will reflect on this and our relative good fortune.
Fortunately all Ronin’s customers have made it through, bruised but still kicking. Most now say they are anticipating an early surge in customer interaction, which they expect may level off again after a few months, so they are gearing up accordingly. During the lockdown, we have helped them avoid any cliché messaging along the lines of ‘we are all in it together’, and ‘stay safe’. This has been coupled with ‘human’ promotion of their businesses and the result has been to the great benefit of their social media engagement and website traffic, and I suspect as a result, their customer relationships. I expect the tone of voice we’ve maintained for them throughout will stand them in good stead now, whereas companies elsewhere that have been lacking in empathy or even exploitative, will be judged accordingly.
Many of our manufacturing and construction clients, have either continued to work or have been back at work for a while now, albeit in a limited capacity, and they have been able to continue to promote the benefits of the work they are doing for clients. Obviously social distancing rules still apply and for those who deal with the general public, such an estate agency firm we work for, and a luxury kitchen supplier this is doubly-difficult. Of course we have worked with them to balance the messaging with the reassurance that all necessary health and safety measures are in place as they enter people’s houses. Even when the housing market was totally shut down, the estate agent was receiving regular enquiries from vendors and buyers, which obviously gives them a head start as they go back to their offices this week. Talking to business owners now, there is an emerging sense of positivity about the future, albeit tempered with the recognition that businesses will ultimately have to foot the enormous bill from coronavirus.
A commonly-expressed view from bosses is that they are using the experience of the past two months to reflect on their way of doing things and not necessarily just going back to ‘normal’. To one degree or another they all are planning to make changes in the way they approach and run their businesses, in terms of their customers and suppliers, their people, their pricing and their products and services. They have reflected on their business relationships and identified those that they want to retain and enhance, and those that perhaps they might be better without.
Clearly there will be challenges still to be overcome but from the conversations we’ve had over the past few weeks, whether businesses are struggling or thriving, the new normal has provided the opportunity for greater cooperation, empathy and working together for mutual benefit. If this comes across in companies’ market positioning and messaging, I believe it will strike a chord with consumers, who themselves have also had time to reflect on who they want to buy from in the future, and I expect our clients’ businesses as well as their personal wellbeing, will be the better for it. Let’s hope this is a silver lining that endures.