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Marketing to retailers during a crisis

Don’t try to sell them anything, so the current wisdom goes, and that’s about right, but why has this advice caused so many tech companies to go to ground. Even in retail, which is facing permanent changes, life will go on and tech will be needed to drive its future.

Accepting that some tech companies have been so devastated by lay offs and redundancies that they cannot stay publicly, most companies remain intact, so there is no reason go silent. You don’t need to sell to ensure that you remain visible to retailers.

Some have responded by dedicating all their efforts to raising money for good causes, not least in support of front line workers. Some have started to offer free services relevant to managing in a crisis. While some have adopted a thought leadership tone to predict what retail will look like in the future. All sensible approaches. Let me therefore talk about the best ways to amplify these campaigns.

  1. Recognise that there is no cause for modesty. If what you have to say is useful and relevant, then you should continue to apply the same rules of marketing say it, say it again and keep saying it.
  2. Refresh your analytics. A lot of people will see your content but a lot will not be relevant. Be even more forensic about who is seeing it.
  3. Make a list with two columns on the left, marketing you did before March but really did not work a that well; and on the right, things which worked really well. After the crisis, do more of the things on the right. Budgets will be constrained, so you will have to work smart. Simply reviving the old plan and the old budget will not work as all your competitors go into marketing and sales overdrive
  4. Look again at what you are saying. How much of it is simply saying what everyone else is saying? Now is a good time for a content refresh and there will be no shortage of things to write about as the changes that have been going on in retail for 15 years accelerate.
  5. Don’t try to do it all yourselves. I understand that your first duty of care is to your own people, but if they don’t cut the mustard in terms of performance, where will that place you in a year or more’s time? Forgive me if this comment sounds arrogant, but I think there is more to gain from at least talking with partners at this time than not, even if there is no budget in the short term.
  6. Will your product or service be more or less relevant to retailers after the crisis. This is perhaps the hardest call to make because we cannot know what retailers will want in the next few months, but you can do the analysis and it will guide you as you try to get back to normal.

For our own part, during the current crisis, we are able to offer you a free market analysis, which will help you work out your marketing priorities through to September.


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