How to Market Your Brand during the COVID-19 Crisis

10 Techniques to Navigate Promotion in Tumultuous Times

These are unprecedented and uncertain times. The economic fallout from COVID-19 is already being felt, and economists predict those affects will only continue. We are not here to push an agenda of fear. We’re here to provide guidance and insight where we can during this sensitive and difficult time. We understand that keeping your business afloat during tumultuous global events can be a tightrope walk. You don’t want to say or do the wrong thing, but you also want to reach out to your customers. If you’re attempting to navigate this delicate balance right now, here are ten things to keep in mind when marketing during a crisis:

1. Empathize Deeply with Your Customers

In these times, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your customers, which isn’t that difficult right now. So many are glued to the news in fear. Just about every company is issuing a statement about this crisis. Now that you have empathized with your customers, you can help ensure they actively hear and receive your messaging positively. In short, given this climate, you must understand your customer’s current state (emotional, economic, etc.).

2. Address Your Customers’ Concerns

Marketing during a crisis is trickier and more delicate, but the best practices and underlying principles remain the same. You still need to determine your customers’ needs (overall and, especially, relative to the problem you solve). And you still need to address those needs in your messaging. Now is not the time to put your needs before theirs. Rather, put your customers and their well-being first in your messaging. Consider what value you can provide in order to be most helpful.

3. Plan to Be Helpful, Not Opportunistic

After you’ve empathized and addressed your customer’s needs to message towards, you’re ready to send out messaging from your brand. But, before actually hitting “send,” you’ll need to organize your specific strategy. Because the crisis is happening right now, you do need to move quickly, but ensure you’ve thought how your communications will be received. The last thing you want is to be perceived as insensitive and/or profiteering.

4. Set Expectations, and Update Your Status

Many businesses have been directly affected by this pandemic. Even if you haven’t been forced to actually close your doors, it’s a good bet you’re feeling the ripples of this global event. It’s a time of uncertainty for you, but it’s also equally confusing for your customers. They likely have questions about how your business has changed, if at all, and they want to know what to expect in the coming weeks and beyond. It’s your job to keep them informed by maintaining open lines of communication. This is an opportunity to deepen customer relationships long after this crisis has passed.

5. Nurture One-to-One Communication Channels

One-to-one communication channels include the following:
  • Email
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Instagram
  • Website chat (if relevant)
  • Text messaging (this might or might not be appropriate for your customer base)
Regardless of what platform or combination of platforms you use for direct customer communication, you need to be put in extra time, effort, and manpower into minding those channels. Direct communication can alleviate frustrations surrounding uncertainty or unanswered questions, and using your customers’ preferred modes of communication increases the likelihood they’ll receive the messages. Your customers will also appreciate receiving communications in the way they want. This is why it’s important to think through how you’ll contact your client base. A text message could be the best way to reach a customer, or it could be viewed as intrusive and too personal.

6. Consider Your Virtual Options

Being forced to close your doors temporarily due to the pandemic can seem like the worst possible outcome. With a little creative thinking and a bit of technology, though, you might be able to offer some of your services virtually. By hosting online workshops, webinars, online courses, and other types of virtual events, you can provide your clients with a valuable service—without the risk of group activities. Depending on your business model, this could even open up new avenues of opportunity that last beyond the crisis. For example, a bar that’s been temporarily closed could jump on the virtual happy hour bandwagon to keep their regulars connected to the business.

7. Produce More Content

As employees are pushed to remote work and lots of meetings are being canceled, many business owners are finding extra time in their schedules. This is a golden opportunity to produce more new content for your company. Does this sound familiar: I’d love to revamp the website or to put out more blogs, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. If you’ve suddenly found more hours in your day, content production is an excellent and productive use of that time.

8. Community Building

This crisis is an opportunity to think beyond the parameters of your own business. In the wake of social distancing, building community support online is critical. In communities across the nation and globe, people are hurting. For those who’ve been infected, they’re sick and battling to recover. For the elderly, disabled, or otherwise vulnerable communities, food and supply shortages are hitting them hardest. Virtual community building can help alleviate some of these problems. For example, this web page organizes community groups in Arlington, Virginia, and it exemplifies the utility of messaging for the greater good.

9. A Little Charity Goes a Long Way

We’ve seen it time and time again. Periods of adversity can bring out the best in many. Genuine compassion and altruism tend to emerge in trying situations. VIDEO: https://www.abc15.com/news/state/covid-19-acts-of-kindness-in-uncertain-times As just one great example, check out what chef José Andrés is doing. If you’re at all in a position to help others, acts of charitable giving and goodwill can help you build social equity. As more people are staying home and scanning social media, these charitable acts are getting noticed and shared even more than they would otherwise. This isn’t a time to self-aggrandize. But you can use the increased social awareness to help make a more significant difference felt and seen in your community.

10. Don’t Wait to Respond; Add Value to the Conversation

This situation is unfolding before our eyes. Your customers are concerned and afraid right now, and they want answers right now. If you have valuable messaging that can provide guidance, insight, or direction, don’t be afraid to step up and share it. If you’ve put in the appropriate forethought and strategy, your customers will only appreciate the open lines of communication and your dedication to them through this tough chapter. Take these as guidelines and tailor your messaging to be compassionate, impactful, and producing long-term results. Please let us know if we can help you. We’re genuinely available and interested in doing what we can.  

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