How your business can weather the COVID-19 storm.
It’s crazy how fast things can change. A few weeks ago, everyone was business as usual – buying tickets to sporting events, planning vacations, working on short and long-term business goals – now, we’re just living day to day. People’s mindsets are in a completely different place than they were then, and it’s important that as marketers, we remember that.
Most businesses, other than those deemed “essential,” have been forced to work from home; cancel meetings, conferences or make the decision to go virtual. We are fortunate in that our business is fully capable of working remotely at any time. Other businesses, however, are not as lucky. Many have closed temporarily and been forced to lay off employees to keep from going under.
Knowing all of these things is important when determining the best approach to marketing during a time of crisis. Although we can’t control COVID-19, we can control how we respond to it.
Should every company address COVID-19?
Short answer – yes. Not addressing our current situation is like not addressing the 10,000 lb. elephant in the room. How you address the situation is key.
Depending on your industry, you should craft a response with a thoughtful message, tone, and acknowledgment of your consumers’ sensitivities. We’re going to take you through each step of managing this crisis, so that you can focus on creating solutions rather than succumbing to the fear.
We know you’ve gotten at least 10 since this whole thing started – how each business you follow is handling the coronavirus. While they may seem redundant, they’re not.
Most people appreciate being informed that their favorite businesses are doing what they need to keep their employees and their customers safe and healthy. Companies who are doing this well are being honest, informative, and focusing on how they can continue to be of service to their customers.
This email is open, honest and assures the reader that the company is taking every precaution possible to keep their employees and their customers safe. They even let you know that they are still shipping product, but you may experience a delay in receiving it. Simple and straightforward, so that the user feels informed and in the loop on the business’ response.
While it’s important that your business isn’t completely silent during this crisis, it’s also important that you are mindful of how your content reads during a very sensitive time.
Your response to the COVID-19 virus will directly depend on your industry. If you’re in retail, for example, you’ll want to make sure you change your business hours accordingly, as well as determining e-commerce availability, and any shipping issue you may face.
Healthcare industries will likely see an overabundance of questions on how their office is dealing with the virus. Regardless of whether you are an eye doctor, hospice provider, or a physical therapist, being open and honest with your consumer is imperative. Doing these things on a consistent level via your website’s blog is ideal. You can answer questions consistently and often, while easing your customers fears. All done virtually.
Where everyone is spending their time – now more than ever – is on social media. News outlets flock to places like Facebook to announce breaking news, retail businesses are using Instagram to have customers virtually “shop” their stores. If you haven’t dipped your toe into the social media world yet, now is the time.
Social media is the quickest way to keep your customers up to date with the latest in how the crisis is affecting you, as well as keeping them in your loop of contact so they don’t forget about you. Use social media as your friend, not your enemy; it’s the best way to keep your consumers involved while #socialdistancing is encouraged.
One of my favorite local shops had to close until the crisis passes – so they decided to start doing virtual shops. On Instagram, they take video each morning of new items they’ve gotten in, with sizes, prices, etc. All you have to do is reply that you want it, they hold it for you, and you can pick it up curbside. #nbd
Google My Business
In the likely event that you’ve had to change your business hours or close completely, (especially for hospitality and food-service businesses) it’s important that you don’t forget to update your hours on your Google Listings. Anyone who may be searching for you would very much appreciate knowing when you are open before they make a trip.
If your restaurant is still doing take-out or delivery, adding this to your Google page is also extremely helpful to the customer who may be searching.
We’ve said this before – advertising isn’t a one stop shop. Paid advertising campaigns are only successful if they are consistent and sometimes, repetitive. Although we understand that many businesses will suffer from cash flow problems and impacts from the low economy, we think it’s important not to remove all of your paid efforts immediately after a crisis. If you do, all the work you’ve done previously will be for naught. Scale down, cut back, but don’t quite altogether.
Use your ads to your advantage. Pivot your content to be privier to the situation we are going through right now. Release helpful resources that your customers are looking for. Rather than pushing products and sales, increase your informative articles and helpful hints at how to best work from home, how to manage finances during a crisis, etc.
Events that have taken weeks and months to plan are now being postponed or cancelled altogether. There are so many minute details that have to be addressed in order to make this go over smoothly. It’s important that you keep your attendees informed as quickly as possible so that they can plan accordingly – send email updates, post updates on your social media accounts, and update any event listings you may have.
Lastly, take a deep breath.
Most importantly of all of these is to remember not to panic. When the economy becomes unsteady, it’s easy to make the decision to stop your marketing efforts completely. Fight that urge. Instead, pivot your content to better serve your customers. Trust us, they’ll remember you once all this is over.
Let’s get through this together; as smoothly and swiftly as possible.