Tips for Marketing During a Supply Chain Crisis

Lack of needed parts. Labor shortages. Shipping delays. Global conflict. Multiple factors are contributing to the current supply chain crisis, putting many suppliers and manufacturers in the difficult position of being unable to market and sell certain products and fulfill some orders.

It’s understandable if companies are tempted to pull back on marketing efforts if they can’t manufacture products or meet customer demand, but we would caution against reducing your visibility in the market.

Historical data is quite clear in showing that companies that reduce marketing and advertising during challenging times fall behind competitors and have difficulty catching up when conditions improve. Conversely, companies that continue to advertise often gain market share and emerge from a crisis in a stronger position.

But you can’t simply continue marketing in the same fashion as before. When conditions change, like they have during this supply chain crisis, your marketing must change as well. As Charles Darwin noted, adaptability is the key to survival and success.

Here are marketing tips to help you weather the current situation:

Focus marketing on what you can still fulfill

If you have products not negatively impacted by supply chain woes, this is a good time to take a look into your database and create lists of customers and prospects who make viable prospects for those products.

The point is not to push what you do have on customers who aren’t interested, but instead working your database to find the target audience that might be receptive to what you currently have to sell. To reach this specific audience, you may need to adjust the marketing channels and programs you use, transferring budget from areas that are currently unproductive to those that still offer opportunity. Media partners such as GlobalSpec that have deep insight into your target audiences can help you make decisions about where to focus your dollars.

Take names

The tip above is a short-term solution to sell what you can. But you might have other, important product portfolios where you can’t fulfill orders right now. What you can do is take names.

When customers inquire about products not currently available, let them know you will add them to a priority list for when the products are ready. Communicate with these customers often via email. Stay ahead of what they might hear from other sources about the supply chain.

Exhibit honesty and transparency

One thing you definitely don’t want to do is make promises you can’t keep. Instead, demonstrate you are a brand that can be trusted. Be honest and transparent by telling customers the status of the situation, what you’re doing to help alleviate the situation, and when they might expect their orders to be fulfilled. Show empathy for their plight. After all, we’re all in this together.

Focus on services

Chances are pretty good that if customers are trying to order products you don’t have, they might have to find ways to extend the life of what they do have or do more with what they have. This might be a silver-lining opportunity to focus on marketing technical services, consulting, or other services such as repair (if you have access to parts). What might start out as a stop-gap measure could turn into a robust and profitable line of business even when supply chains have been repaired.

Keep your website updated

Customers and prospects might keep checking your website to find out the latest information on product availability. It’s a smart idea to create a custom banner or section that you can update on a regular basis to communicate product availability or other news related to the supply chain situation. This crisis will pass, and you can come out stronger on the other side.

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