The short answer is…more than ever!
It goes without saying though that any emergency situation brings with it challenges and hardships therefore the way that you market also has to change. Sensitivity is absolutely critical and your marketing efforts should be very sympathetic to the needs of your consumers. There is justification however to continue your marketing albeit in a different form in order to reduce the implications economically, in the longer term.
Crisis Management for Your Business
At the time of writing this article, the entire world is subject to the extreme and lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The business entire community, with the exception of certain retailers and essential services, have closed their doors for the foreseeable future. This is clearly an intensely distressing, emotional and anxious wait, with cashflow severely affected, concerns regarding being able stop staff from losing their jobs and the future of businesses that owners have worked very hard to build in potential jeopardy.
So, how can you reduce the impact?
There are ways that we can remain focused and inject some positivity in order to start addressing what our businesses currently need and be productive too.
The first thing we would like to recommend is to seek professional help with your finances. We talk through some of the resources and support schemes below, that have been set up to provide assistance for SMEs.
Financial Support Available to SMEs
Since the global emergency was announced, the government has introduced a range of support packages designed to provide help to small and medium sized businesses.
- The Credit Guarantee Scheme for SMEs – the primary features of this programme are listed below:
- Used by businesses who need to implement changes as a result of the impact of Covid-19.
- Those SMEs are not able to secure credit to carry out such changes because they don’t have collateral, are considered higher risk or their means to re-finance has been reduced.
- The Government therefore is currently offering a guarantee of 80% at the moment to banks against losses on qualifying loans for those that satisfy the eligible criteria.
- Repayment terms can be up to 7 years.
- It may be possible to agree between three and six months interest only repayment initially.
- Facilities range from €10,000 to €1m.
- Micro-finance Ireland Business Loans – the main details of this scheme are as follows:
- Loan amounts range from €5,000-50,000.
- Interest rates range from 4.5% APR for LEO applications to 5.5% APR for direct applications.
- There is a moratorium for the first six months which includes 0% interest and no repayments requested.
- Length of loan term is up to 3 years.
- Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme – where employees can receive siginificant support from their employers which is supported through a government subsidy.
- Pandemic Unemployment Payment – this is primarily for those employees or self-emplyed that have lost their jobs because of Covid-19.
- Business Continuity Voucher
- Short-time Work Support – for people who have to reduce the hours or days that they can work per week.
- Online Trading Voucher
- Online Retail Scheme
- Business Financial Planning Grant
- Lean Business Improvement Voucher
- Competitive Start Fund
- Bord Bia Marketing Grants
Also, contact your bank to discuss a moratorium on your mortgage and to freeze rent with landlords..
Communicate with your Target Audience
Thankfully there is better news emerging as time is passing and businesses will have an opening date. The problem is, as yet, we don’t quite know when. Keep in touch with your customers during this time and remember that browsing activity has increased significantly as many people are housebound.
Use the mediums you have to engage with existing and new prospects. Focus on creating interesting, relevant and entertaining content that your followers and fans would like to read.
Social Media Marketing
Very often, our social pages are something we set up very early on and then forget about them aside from posting updates, images and videos as and when we can.
These however are an integral part of your digital marketing strategy and presents a wonderful opportunity to speak directly with your customers, your fans and your followers. There are lots of different features and tools that you can use, for example, on stories that can really expose and communicate your brand’s individual personality online.
Conduct Marketing Research
Not having enough time to health check our marketing effort and results is something most companies can relate to however there is wealth of data and information at your fingertips.
This is often a very interesting exercise to complete as it can highlight characteristics and trends you may not have been aware of. You can use polls in Instagram and Facebook for example to ask important questions and get to know your audience better. Using your platforms in a creative way can provide insights that can replicate results you might see in a focus group scenario.
The evidence you gather is obviously personal to your business and can suggest ways to help you improve how you do things and provide recommendations to engage with your audience, using the resources you have in a specific and efficient manner, saving you time and investment.
This in turn will help with developing a concise and targeted marketing plan that incorporates all of the lessons that you have learned including what your audience likes and what they don’t. What is also great is that Facebook and Instagram are free to use and it doesn’t require you to spend a cent.
Search Engine Marketing
Do you know where you feature for your keywords and how favourably you rank in relation to your competitors? Pretend you are one of your customers and do some analysis of your own. This can be easily carried out from any one of your home devices such as your desktop or mobile.
Be kind to yourself. It is important to keep busy but it is just as important to maintain a healthy balance of structure while looking after our own mental well being throughout all of this. It is an extremely stressful and unique situation that we have found ourselves in. We hope that together and little by little, we can support each other and work together to come out the other side.
If you have any questions that you would like support with, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org