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Time to take stock

Now is a great time to take stock of your marketing activities and how you communicate and engage with your clients, says Lloyd Jones.

Firstly, it’s great to be back within the pages of Accounting Practice – I sincerely hope you’re all keeping safe and healthy.

I think it’s fair to say that every single one of us has felt the impact of Covid-19 on their business in one way or another; and at some point over the past 12 months we’ve all felt we’re just about managing to keep our heads above water. I’ve definitely had my fair share of such moments…

As I write, here in Wales, retail and hospitality are starting to slowly open up. While this is such a positive step for us all, let’s not forget that a large proportion of people don’t feel entirely comfortable resuming absolutely all of their normal activities. It feels, at the moment at least, that while much of society begins to re-open, this may not be a complete ‘return to normal’ quite yet.

On top of health issues, most businesses have had concerns about the impact of coronavirus on both their brand and their industries as a whole.

Trying to navigate the recent public lockdown has provided marketers with many new challenges. For lots of businesses, each phase we’ve gone through has required a unique plan for adapting to the ever-changing circumstances we find ourselves faced with.

Major innovation

History has shown, time and time again, that global crises can lead to major innovation, by pushing us to problem solve and adapt quickly. I like to think that having spent the past 12 months evolving our business model – in our case, going forward into a whole new brand, we’re a great example of this. Big news to come!

If your plan has been to return to pre-Covid strategies as soon as possible, you will likely want to rethink your priorities to suit the current state of your industry and your customers’ new needs. You should be focusing on your online presence by creating a better mobile experience, improving your sites, and consider setting your business up on some more social media channels, if relevant.

Social media engagement has grown by about two-thirds since the pandemic began, with platforms such as TikTok experiencing particularly high growth, so if there’s a platform you’re not using that can strategically build your profile, it’s always worth exploring.

If you already have a website that works, then now is the time to make it even better. Organise a full SEO and Google ranking review, make sure all the pages are working as they should be – and potentially review the pricing or product lines in every area of your business.

Budgets have been strained over the past few months as incoming revenue has fallen, so now is the perfect time to collate and promote user-generated content. Encourage reviews and testimonials – they are low cost to produce, and can generally feel more relatable and organic than a standard campaign. At a time when consumers need to feel like they can trust brands again, building a strong and engaged consumer base by interacting with and sharing their content can only help you in the long run.

While it may be useful to create a long-term plan that shows how the company will recover by a certain date, you should be ready to adapt in the short term and always prepare for the unexpected. With new phases rolling out all the time and variants providing worries for yet another wave of the pandemic, consumer views and habits are frequently changing, alongside constantly evolving restrictions on work and travel.

Planning a month in advance (or even a week at a push!) might just be the safest way of ensuring your marketing activities stay relevant, and aren’t obsolete by the time implementation comes around. This shorter calendar planning can also allow you to pivot faster as changes take place. It’s important to make sure that you’re reaching out to consumers frequently during this time to understand their needs, their views, and how your clients’ behaviour may have changed.

Do some good

Yes, everyone has a bit of Covid fatigue when it comes to messaging and they probably don’t want to hear the phrases “unprecedented event” or “the new normal” ever again. However, there are some messages they’re likely to value hearing. Consumers are more interested than ever in a company’s social activism and attempts to ‘do some good’, so promoting these initiatives, whether they relate to your own workers, local events or supporting key workers, are exactly what your audience are looking for.

Positive, heartwarming stories are more important now than ever as consumers look for a break from the usual news. Ultimately, the key to successfully sustaining and evolving our business during lockdown has been largely about listening – whether that’s to our employees, our clients and customers, or to our support network at home.

Take care and stay safe.

Lloyd Jones is the Senior Client Relationship Manager at Get Seen Now; a full-service PR/marketing agency with exclusive member benefits for all ICPA members. See our advertisement elsewhere in this issue, or visit the website at www.getseennow.co.uk.

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