When the COVID-19 pandemic was just raising its head in March, studies revealed that consumer confidence was going down. A couple of months since then, and with lockdown and social distancing having become the norm, this has taken a further nosedive. While consumers cannot do much about the general economy, they can assess their own financial situation. Hence, their spending habits have been changing and evolving. If you want to stay competitive and relevant in business during this period, it is critical that you focus on building your brand equity and keep brand recall on top of mind.
Let’s dive deeper.
People are Still Spending
The purchase index is not what it was in the pre-COVID-19 time. This means that consumers are no longer splurging money. However, it also does not mean that they are not spending at all. In fact, items that will make the lives of people easier during this lockdown period are being bought by consumers. Hence, this is the time when you should reach out to customers so that you can build on band recall in their minds – after all, in these uncertain times they are all seeking reassurance and certainty.
Thus, if you can portray yourself as a brand that deals in quality products or services, treats its employees well, and believes in the well being of its customers then you will be able to build brand value during this phase.
This Is Temporary – Build for the Future
Everything is not about the current time. You should focus on investing in your brand for the future times when markets will begin to open up and normalcy will return in the spending habits of the consumers. Some ways for you to improve your brand recall without overspending are:
- If you are not a known brand, then instead of spending on building mass brand awareness, which can be expensive, look to collaborate or partner with other businesses in the ecosystem that customers already know of. Webinars, podcasts, blogs are great ways to do collaborations.
- You can offer freebies but do remember to identify the right freebie that would garner appreciation during the lockdown time and are also in alignment with your brand – no sign-up or renewal charges for the next 3 months for instance.
- Create a branded slogan or a catch phrase that brings out the current situation and also makes your brand name memorable.
- Engage with customers in real time so that the audience remembers the experience.
This is where ScanBizCards is seeing a lot of success in its endeavour. ScanBizCards is a popular app in the B2B events community with over 2.5 million users. It is ranked one of the top 10 apps in the ‘Business’ category on the Apple App Store.
Our marketing teams are continuing to make efforts to keep brand recall on top of mind, deliver value to our users, and help our clients face the current crisis. The cancellation of B2B events has clearly had an impact on the daily active user base and net new installs of the app. On the other hand, a lot of the existing users have become more active and are spending more time on the app. Users now have time to clear their backlog of business cards, and they are using features such as human transcription service and email signature capture more actively. The engagement on the monthly newsletters, updates, and new releases has also gone up considerably. These efforts are making more and more users post reviews about their experiences using the app.
Reinventing the ‘Essential Category’
This is a time when consumers are focusing more on buying what is essential. This applies to both B2B and B2C scenarios. Hence, brands producing such categories of products are advertising in full swing. Groceries, hygiene products are permanent examples.
If you look at the B2B SaaS markets, platforms such as Skype and Zoom have become all the more ‘essential’ now. Many new business models are beginning to emerge from this transition. Not only this, but businesses that were earlier not producing such products, features, or goods are also shifting their focus!
SalesIntel, a B2B contact and sales intelligence platform, has made it easier to access direct mobile phone numbers. This has improved connect ratios for SDRs when people are not in the office and cell phones are the only way to speak to prospects.
Google has made the video calling feature prominent with Google Meet now. Many other companies are doing feature improvements to support new models, for example, new features to support remote work.
So, for you to stay ahead in the race, you need to advertise your brand in ways that customers recall your message and your product, service, or brand, and when they want to buy the product that you offer, they consider you.
Non-Essential Items May Get Forgotten About
If your product falls in the category that consumers are treating as “non-essential” in today’s setting, then you are at a risk of losing out on brand recall in the long run. These include brands operating in industries like travel, transportation, hotels, hospitality, and many others. Hence the need to continue with advertising and reaching out to customers is all the more imminent, but you have to be extremely thoughtful. So, you might have to change the way you advertise yourself – after all you would not want to appear insensitive but rather a brand that is focussed on building customer confidence.
Here are a few tips:
- Adapt your message
- Keep your message more subtle
- Advertise across channels that have the most audience exposure in current times
- Use social media to share news and updates. For example, you can tie up with resident associations to give real-time news updates
- There is fear in the minds of people. So, non-essential brands can leverage the need for humour to get more attention
Tapping the Rising Media Consumption
Research carried out by Nielsen US showed that staying at home will result in a rise in the amount of media consumption. Hence, customers will now be viewing more ads by different brands. In such a situation, if you dont step up your campaign, you could be forgotten about. During this time, in fact, if you spend on brand promotion through advertising, not only will you be able to reach a greater number of customers at a lower cost, but you would also be able to get into their minds as being the brand who gave them assurance during uncertain times.
Recovery is Easier for the Strong
The first step in the marketing journey is brand awareness because it helps to get customers get familiar with you and become comfortable with your brand. Hence, even in the downtime you cannot afford to let your potential customers forget about you. Also, it has been seen that recoveries from earlier disasters has been the quickest for those businesses that had the strongest brand equity. So, you should keep working on improving the way people see you. When the pandemic is over it will help you in the following ways:
- Capture greater market share by reaching out to the new audience that you have been building up during this time
- If you can positively contribute to the community during this time and use that to build on your brand image, then you will be recalled in a more positive light
- Brand awareness data will help you to analyse your audience better and you can devise new strategies and more effective future campaigns based on such data
Sales are bound to experience a slowdown. So, instead of focusing all your attention on how to sell more, you should also invest in building your brand’s image as it will give you great dividends once normalcy is restored. However, this is not an easy call to take because you would be reassessing your marketing budgets as well. Do remember this, globally, businesses are adjusting to a huge behavioral change and so how you communicate with your customers – existing and prospective – will play a crucial role in how you fare in the long run.