marketing tips during crisis-mode

[Guest Blog] 6 Top marketing tips to put into action during crisis-mode

Author: Terry Freedman

Terry freedman is a freelance ed tech writer and consultant. He blogs at ICT & Computing in Education, and tweets as @terryfreedman.

 

Let’s be realistic: with yet another national lockdown looming (and perhaps even implemented by the time this has been published), it’s not going to be “business as usual” in the old sense any time soon. But business, like life, has to go on. What kind of things can you do to keep your existing customers happy, and possibly even attract new ones?

Make sure customers can contact you easily

Believe it or not, some companies make this ridiculously difficult. I finally did manage to find a phone number for one company – not from their website, but via a search on Google. When I called, I was treated to a recorded message saying that everyone’s working from home, so email instead. They could have made that a lot more prominent on their website! Bear in mind that this was to discuss ending my subscription. I was so frustrated by the end of this episode that I almost went ahead. To make matters worse, I emailed them, and two weeks later have not yet had the courtesy of a reply.

Had I been a potential new customer, they would have lost the sale. After all, as the old saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

What’s your MVP?

Identify what might be called a minimum viable product or service, and stick to it. I think everyone understands that things can change quickly, but that’s even more reason to be as consistent and reliable as possible. I think it’s very easy to announce ambitious plans that, in the current circumstances, have to be put on ice. Unfortunately, people tend to remember the disappointment rather than the reason for it, even if they’re understanding at the time. This also relates to the next two suggestions.

Under-promise and over-deliver

This is always the best policy anyway, but these days even more so. We ordered a food delivery and was told it would take a week. It came the next day. We were very impressed, as you can imagine. 

The interesting thing about this, though, is the relative aspect. Had their website boasted “Same day delivery!”, we’d have been hugely disappointed, even though the waiting time would have been the same. It’s all about expectations.

Keep customers informed

You can do this via a blog, or daily bulletin, or weekly newsletter. As Woody Allen said, 80% of success is being there. 

Similarly, be present on social media. In fact, I think it’s crucial to keep people informed on Twitter when a situation is developing rapidly. If, for example, your website goes down, or people can’t access the online catalogue or whatever, It’s much better to acknowledge this on Twitter, where you can keep posting updates, than upset lots of people who can’t contact you directly for some reason. It’s also a good self-preservation tactic: if people realise they can get updates on Twitter, with any luck you’ll be saved from a deluge of emails!

Customer retention is key

According to one estimate, it costs 5 times as much to attract a new customer than it does to retain existing ones. This is, of course, a generalised figure, because it will vary from sector to sector and company to company. But it’s agreed that it’s costly to lose customers. The moral is: as it costs so much more to acquire new customers than retain current ones, don’t forget the current ones! Perhaps you might reward them in some way for sticking around?

Be community-minded

For example, if you read the DfE’s guidance on how to get new laptops, there’s a bit in the small print which says that if there are school closures it might not be possible. Eh? Why not? I heard of a school that, while closed, took in tons of tinned food and stuff for when the kids returned. Ed tech companies should be offering something too, not leaving schools to rely on DfE handouts.

Clearly, that may be easier said than done, given restrictions on venturing out, and having to lay off staff because of falling sales, so think of alternatives. Bee Digital, for example, has been running weekly Zoom meetings to talk about the state of education and Covid-19. In the article about 7 ways of working with schools during lockdown, other suggestions are made.

This makes good sense from a marketing point of view because at some point there is going to be a reckoning. People are going to remember the companies that went the extra mile, or at least the extra 100 yards. And they’ll remember the ones that said, “Sorry, we’d love to help, but Covid19…”

But more of that in a future blog post.

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Terry Freedman

Terry Freedman is an independent educational ICT consultant and writer, having had a long career in Education, including teaching, advising schools and inspecting. He publishes the ICT and Computing in Education website at www.ictineducation.org, and the Digital Education newsletter at www.ictineducation.org/diged. You can follow Terry on Twitter @terryfreedman.

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