“Now is the best time to do marketing because everyone is on their phones. There are many ways to market. You can use TikTok, Instagram or send food to vloggers to feature products,” says Charles Paw, chief executive officer of the Tasteless Food Group Co. “I think for F&B, it’s not just [reliant on] events to do marketing. Marami pang pwedeng gawin.”

First-hand consumer experience is important when introducing new products in the market. But while events and on-ground marketing are suspended due to the pandemic, how can businesses continue to move forward and stay afloat in the middle of a crisis? Is it the best time to increase efforts? Can online marketing still work wonders despite its limitations?

“There’s really opportunity despite the situation we’re in. If you’re going to introduce a new product, it has to be relevant to the times. It’s not necessarily just about marketing it or building hype, it has to be something people are looking for, in tune with what they want right now,” says Adrian Dimacali, human resources and legal director of Mary Grace Foods Inc.

Visibility matters

The easiest and fastest way to call the attention of your market is through social media. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are cost-effective since they’re free (unless you spend a hefty amount on boosting and advertisements). People always turn to social media to pass time, especially during lockdown. In a survey by GlobalWebIndex, almost two-thirds or 64 percent of Filipinos say that their “social time” increased during lockdown compared to the global average of 47 percent.

The research analysis shows that 4.57 billion people in the world now use the internet, up by seven percent from last year, with almost 84 percent or 3.81 billion people using social media. With thousands of other businesses taking advantage of social media’s accessibility, you have to step up your online marketing strategies to make an impression, particularly those who are potential customers.

In a survey by GlobalWebIndex, almost two-thirds or 64 percent of Filipinos say that their “social time” increased during the lockdown, compared to a global average of 47 percent.

Providing hassle-free service is a plus for your market. You may consider launching your own mobile app so customers can get everything done in one go, especially if you have a range of products and services to choose from. Major brands such as Starbucks, Nike, and Domino’s Pizza have centered their apps on solutions rather than self-promotion, helping their customers through various functions like store locator, goal tracker, and personal ordering platform. 

This guarantees your business is 100 percent reachable and is directly communicating with them. Aside from sales through in-app purchases, advertisements and promotions can help you gain more profit. If you can’t handle an app just yet, keep your website and other social media accounts presentable, specific, and updated.

Stay in touch with customers

Once you’ve established a strong social media presence, be consistent and keep a personal connection with your customers. In an email marketing study, personalized email and messages actually generate six times more than a business’ usual revenue. You can even try to customize your product recommendations, reminders, and gift cards. Constant communication with customers, especially when major policy changes are made, can help maintain trust. 

Even the biggest names in the industry have acknowledged the role of maintaining relationships with customers during this crisis. Luxury brands Chanel and Marc Jacobs have shown just that when they started getting creative with their online presence by hosting live musical performances and guided drawing sessions.

In an email marketing study, personalized email and messages actually generate six times more than a business’ usual revenue.

This strategy requires you to know and understand your customers. It’s important that you acknowledge the kind of change they are going through right now and pattern your product or service offering with what they need at this point. You can help your customers as well as grow your business by launching minor sales, free deliveries, extra benefits, buy-one-get-one schemes, and even lucky draws.

Marks & Spencer launched its “sale of the century” mid-pandemic while Burger King had a Twitter “throwback liking spree” (in relation to its “throwback” menu launch). These methods prove that marketing can be effective whatever the circumstances may be, if only it were executed strategically.

Always evaluate if your customer approach is effective. Don’t hesitate to ask for reviews, recommendations, and feedback—and more importantly, apply necessary changes. Answer their questions as soon as you can and show how much you value their response. Good customer service has proven itself to be a great opportunity for businesses to develop and progress.