Supply chain marketing during Covid-19: The risk of cutting back
So much to say, so little time. Supply chain marketing during Covid-19 — leaning in is better than backing out.
Turmoil does not quite begin to describe the situation that supply chain companies have experienced lately. The Covid-19 pandemic threw in just a few weeks the finely calibrated, just-in-time supply chains into a state of disarray. In the midst of the struggle to get product from Point A to Point B — while also ensuring the health and safety of employees — many companies had little choice but to adopt an all-hands-on-deck approach.
We saw it ourselves as our clients were suddenly buried in challenges that only weeks earlier had posed no issues at all — securing electronic parts overseas, locating warehouse space, finding freight forwarders, moving product out of port, and more.
If supply chain marketing during Covid-19 had to take a backseat during the initial phase of the crisis, beware of staying quiet for too long. Letting your marketing channels sit idle for an extended period, or drastically scaling back at a time when communication matters more than ever, is not a risk-free strategy.
Let us explain why:
Covid-19 supply chain marketing: Lean in or risk losing ground
Go silent — or stay strong
In the wake of the first shockwaves of the Covid-19 pandemic, supply chain companies understandably had to devote extensive resources to regain their footing. Few industries felt the impact as deeply as the supply chain. For some, the disruption opened up a flood of new business, sending the entire organization scrambling to keep up. For others, it meant every budget line item had to be scrutinized.
At the same time, we noted another challenge brewing for busy organizations: Maintaining a strong online presence during a tumultuous time. How do instill confidence in current customers and gain new leads if you say little or nothing at all?
After the first flurry of crisis-related marketing emails that many of us received (“We are here to help”), some companies — overwhelmed by the scope of work — let their social media accounts go silent and blog pages seized being updated.
The risk? Taking a break or withdrawing altogether could put your organization in a worse position later.
A McKinsey study underscores this point — conventional downturn strategies can actually hamper recovery. The performance analysis of 700 high–tech companies during two decades of market contractions showed “making obvious moves (for instance, cutting costs) as well as counterintuitive ones (such as increasing sales and marketing expenditures) quickly can improve a company’s position when the recovery begins.”
Interestingly, the best-performing companies increased their marketing and advertising spend relative to their competitors, but also compared to their own spending when times were better. However, from our perspective, the issue is far from just spend but identifying the most effective marketing channels and tactics at a time when resources may be scarce.
Weaken SEO — or make it soar
The risk of cutting back on supply chain marketing during Covid-19 also extends to search engine optimization (SEO). Rather than a one-time project, SEO needs constant attention to hum. It is the foundation of your effort to improve the quality and quantity of unpaid website traffic by increasing the visibility of your site or page to search engine users.
SEO and content go together
The completion of a well-designed website is only the beginning. If there is anything SEO demands more than anything else, it is content. You simply cannot ace one without the other. New, key-word optimized content is what makes SEO tick. Google Search has for years used a freshness algorithm to index pages. This means fresh content gets rapidly indexed and lands higher in search rankings than older content.
Backlinks — other reputable sites linking to your content — are also crucial to building SEO. When you provide up-to-date, insightful content, chances increase others will notice and link back to your site, especially during a time when so many are online searching for information. The same goes for backlinks and traffic to your site generated by social media.
So, what is the risk of going quiet?
The short of it: SEO can suffer. If content was the backbone of your marketing strategy before the pandemic hit, your organization has likely established a history of domain authority and is, as a result, in a better position to weather the storm. But not even the best of sites can escape the reality of what matters to search engines. Although you can still squeeze juice out of old keywords, lack of new content puts your organization at a disadvantage when search engines evaluate your pages in competition with countless others.
So much to say — can you find the time?
In many respects, supply chain marketing during Covid-19 comes down to this: Who would you want to do business with during a time of great uncertainty? What signals do you want to send to your audience? What do you want to tell them? As challenging as it may be, leaning in is better than backing out.