Through any time of global market uncertainty, the ability to adapt – how you work, what you focus on, and how you’re talking to your clients – will be crucial to how well your business will bounce back, survive and thrive. Understanding how your clients’ needs have changed, and tweaking your marketing message to address that, plays a big part in inspiring clients to stick with you. What most businesses forget is that whether it happens as a result of political upheaval, market crash, environmental disaster or pandemic, customer priorities may change as circumstances change. As a result, they will be looking for experts that meet their new needs – businesses that speak their language.
This is what you need to know about positioning and messaging through difficult economic times on the way to the new normal.
Why Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Is as Relevant as Ever
Most people haven’t seen this since school, and they may be surprised to see it cropping up in emails from marketing companies. As you may recall, Maslow’s Hierarchy depicts how human beings prioritise. The things at the bottom of the pyramid are considered vital for life – breathing, shelter, food, and other similar considerations.
When those things are secure, what may have once seemed optional in the second layer – being safe from outside influence and having employment, for example – become the focus of our aspirations. They are the new priorities. If that layer is taken care of, the third layer – quality of friendships and such – becomes the priority. At the top, the loftiest goals of self-actualisation and enlightenment reside.
That’s where most messaging is: the top layer, where we would love to be in the best of times. Sadly, if it isn’t the best of times, lofty messaging will be ineffective. In the worst-case scenario, it may even alienate your clients.
How the Pyramid can Help in Adjusting Your Marketing Message
Here’s the problem: does your message align with where your market is right now?
We’ll use the example of insurance. People are buying more insurance – but not because they feel they have money to spare. They are buying insurance because now, the safety and security level of the pyramid, which may have been taken for granted before COVID-19, is the most important thing on their minds.
If you are an insurance company and your marketing speaks to a higher level of the pyramid than what potential clients are focusing on, you are missing the mark. Right now, people are more concerned about taking care of their families and surviving the pandemic.
Caveat: this is an example. You must look at your market and adjust accordingly. For instance, some companies see the opportunity to expand by acquiring companies/assets that are in distress – who are more open to selling right now. If your firm helps companies acquire others, you might need to move up the pyramid instead.
If you can weave the idea of them thriving during these tough times into your marketing message, even better. But, know that wanting to feel secure is paramount for many markets. That real need for economic security must be addressed.
Another great example revolves around video conferencing software. Once upon a time, Zoom, Google Meet (Hangouts), and other programs had little to do with physiological needs. Business leaders used them because they harnessed the latest technology and built efficiency in operations. They could make more money by connecting with clients around the globe.
Enter COVID-19 and social distancing. Suddenly, everyone is using video conferencing software because the inability to communicate kills businesses. Video conferencing has become less of a “nice to have” and more of a “must-have” in order to stay open. The market is lower down on Maslow’s Hierarchy; that is where the marketing message should be as well.
How to Figure Out Where Your Market Is
Your existing clients are an incredible resource already available to you. As solid members of your target audience, their perspectives can greatly inform how you go about:
- keeping them onboard with you, and
- how you can attract others like them.
Talk to them. Ask them what is going on in their businesses and whether their priorities have changed. For the most part, you may notice that with the majority of industries, priorities are moving downwards on the pyramid of needs. Review your data carefully.
Now ask how your expertise – your business – can help them achieve their new priorities. This is not so much about revamping your services as it is about adjusting how they are perceived in the current reality.
This is the time to sit down with your team and really think about how you can reposition, move, and/or combine services. The goal is to create offers that speak to the priorities your clients care the most about right now.
Update Your Marketing Message to Remind Clients You’re Still Open for Business
COVID-19 reminded the world that some catastrophes can have a worldwide impact and shut down whole industries. It’s not simply a matter of what is an essential or non-essential service. Some businesses have had to fold even though they deliver essential services. Meanwhile, many non-essential service businesses have been able to change the way they operate and stay open.
It is dangerous to assume that just because you haven’t said you have shut down, that people will know you’re still up and running. Even if you’ve reached out to customers, the market doesn’t necessarily know. In fact, depending on the tone of your industry’s communications and the messages your competitors may have been relaying, it might be easier for the market to presume that you have shut down like everyone else.
You need to flag the fact that you are still doing business and are ready to do more business.
Take something as simple as your Google My Business listing. When you Google most businesses now, the results will come with a little tag indicating that opening hours may be different due to COVID-19. Right away, this creates a level of uncertainty for someone looking for your business.
You need to make sure that when this potential client looks at your website or social media profiles, you make it clear that yes, you are open at your listed times and still operating. This should be consistent across all your marketing so you can provide them with that certainty.
Making It Known That You Understand The Markets’ New Priorities
Cementing your place in the market doesn’t stop with updating your operating hours across your marketing platforms. Buyers are not just looking for who is open, but who can help them fulfil their needs at a time of crisis. You need to tell them it’s you they’re seeking.
Update Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other social media platforms you use. Take the time to adjust your business description and post new content that reflects what you are offering now. Your website and social media accounts should reflect your adjusted messaging, but there are also other channels that are often forgotten by businesses, even though they can provide good leverage.
Apart from Google My Business listings, there are third-party channels, such as review sites and aggregators like Yelp and Tripadvisor. If you have a profile or listings in these places, it pays to update them and find ways to showcase your targeted messaging. You may have forgotten about joining these sites a long time ago, but there are still a lot of people in your market who use them. You want to make sure that your messaging is consistent across the board so people know what you are now, not what you were before their priorities changed.
Don’t forget the various maps and profiles related to the different devices. For your clients using iPhone and Mac OS, make sure you take another look at what Apple Maps has to say about you and update those details using Apple Maps Connect. Similarly, for your clients using Windows, there is an entirely different set of profiles and listings at Bing Maps managed through Bing places for business.
Staying on the Same Page as Your Clients
The businesses that have the resilience and adaptability to move with their markets’ priorities will not only stand the test of time, but they will grow despite roadblocks thrown in their way. Somewhere down the line, there will be another event with an unexpectedly strong impact on the market on a global scale.
Recent events have been instrumental in reminding businesses and marketers what has always been true.
Taking control of your messaging and ensuring that you are consistent and connected with your clients’ shifting priorities will make the difference between surviving the next economic difficulty, and continuing to thrive in whatever world arises in its wake.
Dash is dedicated to helping businesses adapt their messaging and realign their marketing to match the changing needs of their market. To learn more and identify areas your need to reassess, schedule a call with us. You’ll learn how you can ensure that you know where your clients’ headspace is, and how to turn your marketing into something that not only keeps current clients, but attracts new ones. Connect with more clients and become the first choice in your market, with Dash.