Marketing During a Crisis

As we navigate through uncertain times, many questions run through the minds of not only the nation, but communities around the globe. Cities, states, and countries continue to escalate restrictions, slowing down operations to a crawl worldwide. We continue to watch the news and social media for updates on the Coronavirus and its impact in order to determine the best course of action for ourselves, our families, and our businesses. No matter where you stand in the political climate or the concern spectrum, there is a widespread need for many businesses and entrepreneurs to continue making strategic decisions on how to best move forward with marketing their business. 

So, how should you market during this crisis or recession? Where do you start?

Here is a quick guide on marketing strategy during emergencies:


1.Pause and evaluate your current marketing efforts. What do you have scheduled or on autopilot on various platforms and mediums? Do you have ads running or email campaigns scheduled to go out? Identify all queues and put a stop to them immediately if it makes sense to do so. It will be much better to delay communication from your brand to evaluate and update it, rather than risk the interest, trust, or even respect of your follower base due to messaging that is not relevant, tone deaf, or in bad taste

2. Update your customers and followers on what your business is doing. Yes, we see news about it everywhere, but it’s important to let your customers know what to expect during the foreseeable future. Make sure you update your Google listing, website, and social media pages with adjusted changes (i.e. hours and closures). If you are able to assist those in need, be sure to have clear information on how customers or community members can take advantage of your products or services. Even if you are unsure of how you will move forward long term, acknowledging the circumstance and informing your followers with updates goes a long way in keeping your brand relevant

3. Be real and genuine in your efforts. Address your employees, teammates, and consumers with a caring message. No matter what industry or vertical in which you operate, nor the size of your company, people’s lives are being affected. Almost 89% of American consumers say that they are loyal to brands that share their values, so it’s wise to emphasize your core values in your messaging and how you will be handling what the future holds. Communicating empathy reinforces qualities that are human, and offers a chance to reinforce an emotional connection with your audience. Messaging using “we”, “us”, and “together” shows solidarity with your company culture and gives a positive message of resilience.

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

– Seth Godin

4. Know your audience to understand and predict consumer behavior. We are seeing first-hand how individuals and groups act in crisis and uncertain situations. A lack of trust in media and news outlets, combined with an overload of information sources, causes confusion, fear, and distrust that drives people to act in ways they normally may not. Economic uncertainty drastically changes financial and buying practices for everyone.

Understanding your audience and their decision-making process allows you to create a strategic marketing plan that aligns with what is most important to them. Focus more on how you can help your consumers and what problems you can solve more-so than simply what your company does. Something like, “Got your hands full? Eliminate the stress of planning meals by ordering online!” will speak to your restaurant audience more than, “We are open and deliver”. Communicate what consumers could miss out on if they wait, let them know about how a product could be helpful during stressful times, and let them know you’ll be there for them whenever they are ready.  Use this time to lay a foundation to build brand loyalty as the economy improves.


5. Look for other creative ways to connect as consumer values and attitudes shift. If your company hasn’t modernized yet, it’s crucial that you do so now. Adopting videos, webinars, and video chat in communications will allow you to keep connected and top of mind. Find unique ways to reach out with a personal touch like handwritten notes to top clients. Send big supporters a private message on social media and let them know you are there for them. Think about parts of your experience that you can share to relate to your consumers. Our social media feeds will continue to be saturated with stressful information. Sharing a bit of humor on your feed can stand out to your followers and reinforce a positive sentiment, loyalty, and conversions when the time is right. Creating engaging content like polls and asking consumers to share photos is a good example of ways to connect. 

6. Stay focused and update your goals accordingly. While operations are slow, you will naturally have more time for other things. It can be a golden opportunity to PLAN! Make sure you are still paying attention to how you’re spending your time, even with adjusting habits to accommodate work-from-home dynamics. Think critically about projections. The business landscape will shift dramatically, but that doesn’t mean opportunities don’t exist. As competitors cut back, there may be opportunities to take advantage of lower marketing costs to increase market share. 

Make sure your operations are ready to handle increased interactions digitally. Make sure your website is optimized to be found on google. Take advantage of organic social media tactics to grow and connect with your audience, and provide a high level of customer service. And when you see a good story, pass it along.

If you are looking for customized recommendations for your business, our MC360 team is here to help. Contact us to get started today, or click here to read more on our strategy consulting services. 

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Kate Donadio Kate Donadio March 28, 2020 0 Comments

3 Key Relationships of Marketing & Supply Chain Management

How is marketing and supply chain management (SCM) related?

It is important for marketing and supply chain professionals to have a strong understanding of how the two fields harmonize. The marketing and SCM fields are so broad and interconnected, that it can be harder to think of how they differ, than how they relate. 

When decisions and efforts from both functions unify together, organizations can pack a more powerful punch in the results they pursue. They can satisfy customer demand triggered by the company’s advertisements, and by making their products and services consistent, companies can build long-term trust. When the two perform disjointedly, the organization starts pursuing different internal goals, which frequently leads to dysfunction or even disaster. 

The first step to understanding how the two business functions come together is through definition. 


Marketing Defined:

As defined by the American Marketing Association: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” (AMA, 2019).

SCM Defined:

As defined by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals: “Supply chain management encompasses the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing and procurement, conversion, and all logistics management activities. Importantly, it also includes coordination and collaboration with channel partners, which can be suppliers, intermediaries, third-party service providers, and customers. In essence, supply chain management integrates supply and demand management within and across companies.” (CSCMP, 2019).


Let’s look at some examples of how marketing and SCM are related.

1. Supply and demand:

This might be somewhat rudimentary, but it’s a powerful concept here. The whole basis of a free market economy is supply and demand. 

Supply is overseen by the company’s SCM personnel. Such functions include sourcing, procurement, logistics, inventorying, distribution, and more. Demand is overseen by marketing managers, like advertising, sales, differentiation, and customer feedback through surveys and focus groups. 

When these two components come together, a business can effectively supply the products that their marketers promoted. Marketing is the recognition of what customers need. SCM is the delivering of those customer needs. This is the broader essence of the relationship between SCM and marketing, but there is much more behind this face value.

2. Avoiding stockouts from promotions:

When items are promoted with advertisements and discounts, the number of sales tend to increase. Hopefully not so much as to cause stockouts, which is when the inventory of items is sold out completely. Stockouts are a SCM’s worst nightmare. 

Of course, it’s bad for the customer because they will lose trust in coming to your business for things, but it’s a huge opportunity missed for the retailer and manufacturer to earn profits. One saying goes “Stockouts cause walkouts”. Customers lose confidence in shopping at locations that fail to stock enough of what they came to purchase. This leads to the risk of customers developing new habits of shopping at competitor locations. For example, if CVS keeps running out of milk, people might start shopping at Walgreens.

When the marketing team is setting up promotions, it is important to communicate with supply managers to ensure some measures are put into place to prevent stockouts. Some SCM considerations to prevent stockouts:

  1. Forecasting accuracy
  2. Safety stock utilizations
  3. Fast resupply logistics capabilities (Just-in-time)

3. Brand quality:

Quality can be the key differentiating factor for many products and services, especially heavily competitive markets. A trust in a company’s standard of quality often keeps customers coming back for more. 

Take Häagen-Dazs ice cream, for example, the level of quality in their ingredients is held to a higher standard than most other brands of ice cream. They source their vanilla beans very precisely to keep consistency in their vanilla ice cream. This builds customer trust. Sourcing and procurement are critical SCM functions that facilitate a company’s quality standard. 

On the flip side, marketers need to be able to convey the right messaging in their advertisements regarding things like product quality. Good marketers know their products well. Häagen-Dazs marketers would benefit from having an understanding of their ice cream’s quality so they can formulate marketing strategies that speak to their target market. 

SCM personnel must communicate with marketing to ensure the right products are being produced and the right messages are being sent out. If the marketing department is sending messages that are inconsistent with the company’s SCM capabilities, customers can get misleading information and lose trust.

Conclusion: 

A company’s SCM and marketing departments are more interconnected than it may seem on the surface. The reality is that organizations that encourage communication and collaboration between the two are poised to be more in-tune with customer needs and delivery expectations. When properly integrated, the business model becomes inherently more cohesive and high-performing.

SCM needs marketing to facilitate communication with potential customers. Marketing needs SCM to fulfill the products and services advertised. The two go hand-in-hand. 

Perform planning and goal-setting sessions with representatives from both functions. Ensure processes are in place that promote communication and knowledge sharing between the two departments. Then encourage and recognize the efforts of collaboration.

Interested in learning more about Supply Chain Management or Marketing? Reach out to the MC360 Team. 

References:

CSCMP, 2019. Definitions and glossary. Retrieved from: https://cscmp.org/CSCMP/Educate/SCM_Definitions_and_Glossary_of_Terms.aspx

AMA, 2019. What is marketing. Retrieved from: https://www.ama.org/the-definition-of-marketing-what-is-marketing/

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