The manufacturing industry does not grind to a halt during uncertain times. Here are some ideas for how to continue to market your products through one of the largest economic upheavals the United States has endured.
1. Get Back to Basics
When times are uncertain, it is helpful to get back to basics and rediscover why you do what you do and who you serve. Review your product offerings and analyze production and purchase data to uncover the products that have the highest demand while being the most efficient to produce. Then, consider how the current public health and economic situation may affect demand for your products. Use the information you uncover to adjust your operations.
After taking a look at your products, focus on your customers. Why do your customers buy from you and not your competitors? How do you maintain strong relationships with your current customers? What do you currently do to reach new ones?
2. Reacquaint Yourself with Your Core Market
After spending some time reviewing your current customer base, reidentify your core target market and reevaluate their needs. Your core target market are the customers who are most likely to buy from you. Use your customer data to identify who these customers are and what products they purchase. Note which marketing and sales efforts work best with them. Then, take a look at trends in their industry and anticipate how your company may be able to solve their future needs.
3. Revisit Your 2020 Marketing Plan
Things have changed dramatically since Q4 2019, when many companies were putting together their 2020 marketing plans. If that is true for your company, it is time to take another look. The content you have planned for the next few months may no longer be relevant to your customers. Worse, it may come off as uninformed, insensitive, or out-of-touch during a pandemic and economic crisis.
Take a look through your marketing plan to confirm it continues to serve the times. Remember many of your customers may have consolidated shifts, reconfigured their operations, or shut down entirely. Brainstorm ways your company can continue to serve these customers and rebuild your marketing plan around their needs.
4. Don’t Plan So Far Ahead
When the economy’s great, set-it-and-forget-it marketing plans can perform well. But in uncertain times where the economic and public situation is constantly shifting, planning too far ahead can be unproductive or harmful.
If you typically execute your marketing plan quarterly or monthly, consider being more hands-on over the next few months. For example, instead of scheduling social media posts for the month, consider scheduling week by week so you can adjust your content as needed.
5. Use Your Entire Marketing Toolkit
Marketing teams have dozens of tools at their disposal, from social media, email, blogs, and websites to print materials such as line cards and direct mail. In uncertain times, deploy your entire marketing toolkit to reach your core market. Keep your digital storefront fresh, stay active on social media, and arm your sales team with updated sales collateral.
6. Be Authentic
The tone of your marketing messaging is critically important during uncertain times. Customers want to know how you are responding to the current situation and be reassured that they can trust you. The best way to continue to build this trust is to be authentic. Stay true to your core values and mission and share why they are important to you and how they guide your business practices.
7. Share Your Concerns . . .
Part of being authentic is sharing your own concerns about the current situation and everything you are doing to address them. This can include how you are ensuring your workers are safe during the pandemic or how you plan to continue to fulfill customer orders. Keep your message focused on solutions rather than fear and uncertainty.
8. And Share How You Are Helping
Customers want to know how you are supporting your employees, customers, and community during this time. Post how your company is responding to the pandemic on your website, including how you are encouraging workers to wash their hands, practice social distancing, and stay home when they feel ill. If you have reconfigured your operations to support the health care industry, share those details.
Use your social media platforms to share how you are supporting your customers and larger community. Share how you are ensuring your products reach your customers safely, including enhanced or expedited delivery. If you are donating time, space, or products to serve your community, feature those efforts on social media and your website, too.
9. Be Mindful of Budgets
It will likely take months or years for companies to bounce back from the current economic situation. During this time, be mindful of your customers’ budgets. If you can find creative ways to save them money, they are more likely to stay loyal customers.
10. Get Help
Marketing during uncertain times is challenging. Investing in a marketing team can be money well-spent during economic uncertainty. Hiring an outsourced team is often the most cost-effective choice for manufacturing companies. Outsourced partners can support the efforts of your internal marketing and sales team or manage your entire marketing strategy.