Marketing plans help to think ahead and map out promotional activity based on historical data, industry knowledge, calendar dates and growth goals. Considering all outputs, the customer and desired results will help to formulate a marketing calendar of activity.
A thoroughly planned out marketing plan forms the baseline of business strategy, focusing on all the important marketing principles – right product, place, price, promotion, people, physical evidence and process. But, what happens when things go off track?
The growth of social media platforms has created many more opportunities for brands to promote messages but it also exposes a company to a crisis. Social platforms allow customers to express opinions instantly, which can be damaging if not reacted to quickly enough. This, plus external influences such as local or national crisis means there is a growing requirement for businesses to be reactive with their communication.
When unplanned factors change customer behaviour, it’s good to revisit the calendar with an adaptable approach to adjust the priorities. Being able to react to environmental influences or customer feedback in real-time allows the company to remain in control and shape communication to reinforce brand values.
How should companies handle a business crisis?
Assess the level of the crisis. Taking the time to accurately review a situation with key stakeholders is invaluable to navigate the right approach to take. Reacting quickly is important but ensuring the factually correct information is communicated is vital.
Communicate to the team before customers and media. Sometimes businesses can be guilty of not informing those at the heart of the company before external people. Ensure the workforce is in the loop with the correct information.
The complexity of crisis communication can prove a tough challenge. If the crisis is related to a problem caused by the organisation, stick to the facts and focus on the solution. It’s also important the statement comes from a key stakeholder or business owner to show empathy and that the situation has been taken seriously to reassure customers.
How to prepare for a crisis
Conduct a business risk assessment with stakeholders to identify the threats that could face the organisation and discuss all scenarios. What might seem a time-consuming task, can prove the most valuable and brand protection in a crisis.
Prepare a variety of holding statements covering all the possible scenarios as the most relevant can be easily adapted if that moment comes for a quick response. Bear in mind that a holding statement will only stand for so long before frustrated customers and journalists expect more information. Within the holding statement, be clear when and where further information and statements will be released.
Addressing any negative press with a meaningful message and solution will have a positive impact on the brand image. Keeping up to date with shifts in the market allows a company to be reactive with marketing and improve the customer experience.
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