Navigating Uncertainty with Your Brand in Mind

There is a meme going around the internet right now that says “As of January 1, hindsight will be 2020.” And here we are!

Armed with all the insight that we gathered in 2020, there is still one thing we know for sure:  there will be more uncertainty to navigate in 2021. 

So, what does this mean for your brand?  

In a recent post at Think with Google, the author noted that  “While we all hope to turn a fresh page in 2021, the reality is that we’re in this for a while longer — as brands, but also as people.”

Eventually, things will settle down, but for the time being your SMB will be subject to the tumultuous economy that we saw develop last year.

In essence, the problems that are so prevalent now — the pandemic, racial and cultural division, for starters — aren’t going to just disappear overnight. As a small business owner or entrepreneur,  it’s probably best to learn to adapt to many kinds of challenging circumstances.

Happily, there are some lessons we can take along with us into the new year.

Keep your message clear and simple

Sure, customers are distracted by current events and health concerns, but that is even more reason for you to keep your own brand message easy to understand. In short,  offer simplicity.

And it most definitely is not the time to begin yelling and shouting about your product or services. During troubled times, people want to know there are dependable, honest brands that can make their lives easier.  While this is good practice any time, Forbes magazine notes that during troubled times, it’s vital to ensure that your brand is seen as one that offers value. A clear solution is key.

Be sure you know what problem your business can solve and then focus on that.  

It may be that the content on your website, social media or email campaigns needs to be sharpened up. This would be a great time to focus on your message and your content and make sure it’s telling a strong story.  

And what is that strong story?  Whatever your business involves, you need to tell your story from your customer’s viewpoint.  Show that you really do understand their pain points and that you can offer them something of value to solve those problems.

If writing is not your strong suit, then find and hire a writer who can help you with this mission. The clarity and quality of your content will ring loud and clear for your current and potential customers.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

You probably don’t need to throw out your entire marketing strategy that you undoubtedly put so much hard work into creating. You may just need to tweak a few things here and there.

You’ve worked really hard to build up your brand promise over the years, and now is not the time to change course. As we work through 2021, the only thing you can be certain of is that there will be many more uncertainties.

You’ve probably seen the hundreds of emails and other types of messages from businesses talking about their reaction to the pandemic. Interestingly, the team at  Google’s Unskippable Labs reviewed the best — and worst — performing ads on YouTube last year.  What they found was that the vast majority of businesses were keeping their ads limited to mostly their regular content topics and they performed well! 

Of course there are times when you simply have to confront a specific topic or event (such as the coronavirus pandemic) head on.  But don’t throw out all of your marketing plans. Instead, think in micro-adjustments.  Perhaps a campaign you have been planning on can be changed slightly to address current issues in a way that makes sense for your company. 

Don’t try to force the issue, however, and make sure that your efforts are in keeping with your company’s unique voice.

Shore up the quality of your product or service.

You may be tempted to panic and pull in your tent stakes when the economy is looking bad. But that may be the wrong way to look at economic uncertainties.

Of course, it makes sense to look at places where you can cut out excessive or non-vital spending. But at the same time, it’s possible that you could cut too much. While watching your expenses is prudent, when your staff starts to notice and begin to worry, you may end up hurting staff morale.  

And as we have discussed in another post, keeping your work culture strong and in line with your external brand is a key to your marketing success.  Remember, your internal brand brings your vision, mission and purpose to your own staff (and also to your customers).

Now may be the time to put extra resources into supporting your customer service or even your product offerings. 

Forbes Council Member Kenneth Lewis recently discussed the importance of establishing customer trust during uncertain economic times. Your customers will appreciate being able to trust and lean on you even when there is so much that is changing. Imagine how your customers feel and try to put yourself in their place.

You can adjust  your procedures and emphasize your ability to make customer lives easier.  When the phone rings, make sure it gets picked up quickly.  And when customers message or email, get back to them even faster than you did previously.

Your customers will appreciate it and take note.

Focus on customer retention even more.

In uncertain times, one thing is constant, however:  customer loyalty can keep your business afloat.  We all know that seeking out new customers is expensive.  Necessary, of course, but when your budget is tight you will be better served to focus on retaining your loyal current customers.

As we pointed out in an earlier blog post, those loyal customers can come back and purchase from you again and again. For very little financial expenditure, you can focus on your current customers by sending them emails with offers available only to them.  Or, your sales staff may start calling on those same customers to let them know how valued they are.  

You may want to think about a survey for your current customers to find out how their lives are changing. The information you get could be invaluable as you strengthen your brand as part of your strategic marketing efforts.

If you think you are doing a great job now, keep at it!  Use this time to plan your strategy for the coming year.

But, if  you are not as certain or are curious about how strong your own strategic marketing foundation is, Tomato Fish invites you to take our free marketing mini-assessment and instantly get your marketing foundation score.

And if you’d like to find out more, contact us!  We’d love to chat with you. Book a free, 15-minute call with us to get you started in the right direction.

Tomato Fish Is An Indianapolis Consulting Company Focused On Helping Small And Midsize Businesses Make Good Strategic Planning Decisions.