Not sure where to start with your marketing? Samantha Crowe, PR director at Manchester-based Make it Be sets out her top tips for a winning formula.
It can be daunting to get started on marketing at the best of times, especially if you have to completely change tack and speak to a different type of customer. But it’s possible to be successful if you follow a few rules.
This blog will summarise the things you need to consider when putting together a lockdown marketing campaign, and provides some inspiration from companies up and down the country that are making marketing waves.
1. Staying true to your brand values at all times
Stick to your values
Any marketing or PR you do during lockdown has to reflect what your brand already stands for. Now more than ever you need to be authentic, trusted and believed. Don’t try and reinvent yourself, you’ll lose momentum.
Take a look at the Innocent twitter feed, one of my favourite brands to follow. At the moment you’ll see innocent is helpfully telling you what day it is. It’s the sort of no nonsense yet entertaining update that you’d expect from them. And let’s face it, knowing what day of the week it is, is a challenge at the moment so it makes perfect sense to step in and help.
Honesty is the best policy
People respect the truth, especially now, and are happy to wait if companies provide clear information on what to expect when. Think about the best methods of communication – this might include a change to your home page banner, introducing pop up messages and changing the copy next to product info, right through to concise wording on delivery schedules and options, and adjusting the emails people receive after a purchase to make things really clear.
Thompson and Morgan seed and plant providers has a large banner on the home page to alert you to important information. This banner has recently been updated to tell you how they are working with growers to avoid millions of plants being wasted. The customer journey through the site has also been adjusted to set expectations. My potato sets and growing sacks may take longer than usual to arrive, but that’s fine as I know they will be worth waiting for.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes
What’s life like, why do they want your product? Are you helping them sustain normality, or bringing joy to their friends and family in the shape of gifts? Empathy goes a long way right now and this approach to marketing will help shape the campaigns you deliver.
Rococo Chocolates understands you might want to send a hamper to a friend who is on the front line, as well as enjoy a treat while you take up your new lockdown hobby of knitting. The company Instagram reflects this.
Put yourself in your team’s shoes
Your reputation is paramount and the best PR you can do is to look after your employees, and your extended team of delivery partners/suppliers, first. Check you have done all you can to keep them safe, and if that’s not enough review the plan until it’s right. This might mean different and possibly longer fulfilment models. But that’s ok because as I’ve said above, people will be supportive of companies taking responsibility and explaining the choices they are making.
You can’t fault the likes of Sainsbury’s and Tesco for their communications about what they are doing to help keep their teams safe, and they aren’t afraid to ask for the public’s help in making the safety measures work too.
2. Keep marketing simple with social media and by using existing relationships
Look at your quick wins
If you have a list of press or bloggers you already send product samples and press releases to then get in touch with them and share what you are doing now. See what stories they are working on and how you can help. If you don’t, then look at the press your competitors or similar producers are talking to and follow suit.
Seven Bro7thers recently launched a new beer called Good Vibes, a name which actually reflects the nation’s mood. ‘About Manchester’, a Manchester lifestyle title with 55,000 readers, picked up the story including a link to the online store to buy it – a great way to launch a product in a lockdown.
Seven Bro7hers’ new brew Good Vibes is a reminder to keep spirits up.
Social media travels far
Some people are deliberately avoiding the news right now but are tuning into social to keep up with friends and family. They are therefore more likely to respond to adverts, share short videos and watch customer/influencer testimonials like unboxing gift packages or taking part in taste tests.
The wine industry has really capitalised on this, launching virtual wine tastings, sending selections to your home and then hosting an event via Zoom. Cookery classes from artisan bakers have also popped up. Bread Ahead uses Instagram Live and Nekter Wines uses Zoom. What could be more exciting and interactive, and ultimately something you’d then share and recommend with friends?
Keep it simple
A picture paints a thousand words and your product is the hero so use branded, high-quality images in advertising. Short captions, succinct product info, easy pricing, and clear directions to buy will do the rest.
Northern Bloc, purveyors of vegan ice cream, does this really well and right now you can send ice cream themed socks, shoppers and bags to someone you’re missing.
Pick the right social media platform
Are your customers likely to be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or even TikTok? That will help inform where you put your effort. If it’s your first time doing social media marketing, then it’s best to pick one and do it well to begin with – or get an expert in to help you. People buy with their eyes so if you’re in food then Facebook and Instagram are likely to be good bets. Think about what will be useful and interesting to your audience and diversify your content to reflect this – it can’t all be about you.
I know several people who have invested in a subscription to Toucan – creativity in a box for kids. The Facebook feed has loads of ideas to help parents beat lockdown boredom – all good shareable content for like-minded people regardless of whether you are a subscriber or not.
Stunts can work
Samuel Smith Brewery may not have set out to create a ‘stunt’ but delivering beer by horse and cart has captured attention for all the right reasons. It reflects the lockdown pace of life, the tranquillity on roads and has given people some magic to look forward to. Overall, it’s empathetic to the situation, and it got national press coverage as a result.
3. Grow loyalty with your campaigns
Offers and discount
Think about your existing customers first. How can they give you a fast start to marketing and grow your customer base? It might take the form of loyalty discounts, or referral incentives, and offers for repeat purchases. Understand customer behaviour too – if items are regularly bought together, why not bundle them up and promote them with a special offer? In a similar way, are there products people could subscribe to? Take a look at your processes as well – for example, making it easy to do one transaction but send to multiple addresses can make a big difference to loyalty.
After buying a subscription to Brew Tea Co. decaf tea bags, I received an invitation to review my order and the service I received and get 10% off my next purchase in return. It was perfect timing for a friend’s birthday gift I needed to organise, so I didn’t hesitate to review the excellent service I received.
Unleashed customer Brew Tea Co. does excellent tea and great marketing.
Come back to your values
It’s likely you have high standards when it comes to working conditions, quality of materials and sustainable business models. Can you extend these values to help your immediate community or boost national funds? Would customers donate a percentage of their order to a charity so you can donate products/money to those in need? This can be a marketing message in its own right, where buying good products does good too.
Manchester-based Ministry of Upholstery may be closed but its team of exceptional experts is raising money for the NHS Charities Together by launching a range of designer cushions and art prints, and turning children’s rainbow drawings into unique cushions. 25% from every sale goes to the charity.
A slick experience and superb customer service will go a long way when it comes to marketing your great products. This can’t be understated. Get them right by using technology to help you manage processes and automate the time-consuming admin such as check out and transactions, and inventory management. It’s also well worth reviewing the feedback you have from your suppliers, staff and customers. Small adjustments can go a long way.
And don’t forget there are plenty of people who can help you get your marketing plans off to a good start, just ask for recommendations if you decide you can’t go it alone. But most of all, give it a go because it’s hugely rewarding when you see the investment of time and energy pay off.