Marketing in the Age of the Coronavirus

As the world is shook by the novel and highly contagious coronavirus, businesses of all sizes and industries are scrambling to stay afloat. This pause on businesses and the economy also means a sudden shift in consumer behavior.

As an organization, whether you are a private business, nonprofit or government, what kind of a communications approach should you implement during such an unprecedented crisis? Should you put on hold your entire marketing budget or invest in new ways to keep your stakeholders stay informed and connected?

Here are some helpful tips to help reenergize your digital marketing and content strategy amid the Covid-19 pandemic:

Stay Connected

In a time when there are so many more questions than answers, clear and ongoing communication with your internal and external stakeholders is critical in keeping your business afloat.

First and foremost, if you are in fact still operating and providing service, let your stakeholders know. Don’t assume they know you are still open for business. These are very uncertain times and there is no room for assumptions.

Second, communicate how your organization is following guidelines set out by public health experts and specify the steps you are taking to ensure the safety of your staff and customers.

Be active on social media and send out regular e-newsletters. Consistently keep your audience informed and engaged by providing them helpful resources and tips on coping with the situation.

Turn your in-person events VIRTUAL. Whether you are holding your weekly staff meeting on Zoom, or hosting a webinar, there are plenty of technologies within your fingertips to stay connected.

Staying quiet during a pandemic like this will only make your business seem out of touch, or out of business.

Make It About Your Customer

The overarching idea behind the ideal marketing strategy is to change it at the very core and go from “How to sell more” to How to support my customers more efficiently.

More than ever, the customer should be at the center of your marketing and overall business strategy. Listening to them and monitoring their behavior on social media and other channels will help you act accordingly and create fresh, relevant content that builds loyalty rather than backlash.

One way to let them notice you is show you care through action. Make a contribution or stand for a cause. Donate masks to the local hospital and clinics. Waive extra fees and offer discounts. Offer free coffee or meals.

Big brands are already doing this. Starbucks is giving away free coffee to healthcare workers. Uber Eats is waiving delivery fees for independent restaurants in an effort to promote business for those struggling.

Timeliness and flexibility also matter. React quickly and make changes to your business practices as per new government restrictions.

Focus on What Your Business Does Well

Find creative ways to help your customers get through these difficult times by offering them services that is at the core of your business.

This is the time to offer them a taste of your knowledge and expertise. For example, if you are in finance, offer them a free virtual consultation or webinar on how to apply for a SBA loan or how to save money during the pandemic.

If you are a gym or fitness instructor, set up free online workout sessions for your customers (and their friends) to join from home. You may not be making direct money from it but it will certainly help maintain your customers and expand your reach.

Equinox is doing this through its on-demand fitness app @Variis which brings together different brands in fitness to host virtual workout sessions using IG TV.


Update Your Digital Content

Your messaging and tone matter more than ever. The content you post should be mindful and empathetic. With so many people losing their jobs and feeling anxious, this is NOT the time to be opportunistic and promote products that won’t sell or use the COVID-19 crisis as a cover for personal gain.

People are paying attention and WILL notice if you are constantly pushing advertisements and are tone-deaf to what’s going around us. Post content that is more in touch with reality and provides people value in some way whether in the form of information or entertainment.

For example, share fun ways you are working from home or maintaining your mental health. Share a new skill. Share a cool new app you discovered. Share positive inspiration. Start a fun challenge on social media to get people to communicate and learn about each other.

You can also search for content ideas online using Ubersuggest or Moz Keyword Explorer to find out what people are searching for online. Keywords like “free online courses”, “cheap digital games” and “virtual travel” have gained popularity during the past few weeks (not surprisingly). Consider how these high-traffic keywords apply to your brand and create a content marketing plan to educate but also inspire your audience.

Pick the Right Communication Channels

With so many people quarantined at home, now is the time to grow your owned media presence. This includes your social media, website, email blasts, blogs and digital media.

In addition to social media posts and e-newsletters, write blogs or an E-Book offering helpful hints and best practices on a subject that may be helpful to businesses during these challenging times, such as SEO.

Make a landing page on your website dedicated to the coronavirus with helpful resources and updates. You can even make a video with a message from your CEO or executive team about the measures you are taking to minimize the spread of the virus within your organization.

Start a podcast. Just like a blog, a podcast is another way to build an audience. With 32% of Americans listening to podcasts monthly, this number is only expected to grow with the rise of voice technology and smart phones. Podcasts are on-demand, quick to digest, free, and easy to create plus they help you expand your reach and build your brand.

Finally, use this opportunity to start that TikTok account you always wanted to launch for your business or for yourself. Everyone, from celebrities to brands and influencers, are using TikTok to entertain themselves and get entertained while staying home. Use TikTok’s easy-to-use tools to create fun and branded content. You never know, just one piece of content has the potential to go viral and allow you to build a huge, new audience.

There are many ways to get your message out and keep your audience engaged virtually, as long as you are being consistent in your approach, staying relevant, and providing value.

Do Not Eliminate All Advertising

While it is wise to slow down on your paid advertising, it is not necessary to eliminate all advertising. People are now online more than ever and there may even be more opportunities for your business to be relevant.

Instead of pumping the breaks on all ads, put your budget more towards areas of your business that may be helpful during so much uncertainty.

For example, if you are an app that helps people learn a new skill, run ads on YouTube to get people interested in downloading your app. Or if you are a creative marketing company, you can run a campaign advertising your services to help brands with their digital marketing efforts.

Take this unprecedented situation as an opportunity to grow.

Use this downtime wisely to do things for your business you didn’t think of before. Build a crisis communications plan to ensure your company is ready for the next time an epidemic like this occurs.

Think outside the box and find gaps in the market to build on new business opportunities. Do things you always wanted to do, learn a new skill you never thought was possible or had time for, and find innovative ways to grow personally, professionally, physically and mentally.

We will get through this only if we set aside our differences and stick together as a human race. Work hard, be persistent and patient, and never ever give up hope.

Ask for Help

Whether it’s reinventing a new marketing strategy, refining your messaging, developing new digital content or improving your social media efforts, it’s okay to ask for outside help.

Reach out to us for a complimentary consultation to help reboot your company’s marketing communications efforts during (and after) the Covid19 pandemic. Contact one of our marketing professionals today.

by Tabasum Lutfi
Lead Digital Strategist at TriVision


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