Smart Marketing During Uneasy Times
COVID-19 has given a whole new meaning to the concept of “going viral”. Generally desirable by marketers, this is one type of viral response that I’d really rather see fail. One thing is clear, COVID-19 is going to be around for a while and marketers will need to adapt to it. Many brands and industries already have, out of necessity. I’m sure your Inbox has been as busy as mine with messages from businesses that you frequent informing you of their response to the outbreak.
You’ve no doubt seen thoughtful and helpful marketing campaigns as well as campaigns that appear to be out to capitalize on the situation. What is your business doing during this unprecedented disruption to our way of life?
One thing I hope you’re doing is soldiering on.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Stop Marketing
There is a knee-jerk reaction to pull back and hunker down during times of crisis and it is no different with this coronavirus outbreak (witness the toilet paper hoarding and stock market dives). But even though we are encouraged to distance ourselves from one another physically, distancing yourself from your target markets is not recommended.
I’m afraid that businesses that decide to scale back their marketing, particularly smaller, new, or less well-known businesses, will suffer from the “out of sight, out of mind” effect. Pull back your marketing efforts now and you risk losing whatever space you had occupied before the outbreak.
Savvy-marketers have already realized that with more people working from home, off of school, or even out of work, there is going to be a much larger audience than usual who will be watching more TV, browsing articles, news, and products online, and checking their social media accounts more frequently. This is a prime opportunity to reassure your existing audience that you’re still here for them and to reach new contacts who have more time to devote to researching or making a buying decision in their buyer’s journey.
Entertainment giants like Disney and Universal Pictures know this and have already capitalized on it by doing things like releasing movies to subscription channels early or direct to streaming. Restaurants that have been ordered to close are using their remaining food stock to feed kids who are out of school and rely on school meals. Grocery stores are offering temp work to people who have lost their jobs due to the virus and need income replacement.
These are all perfect examples of smart marketing in times of crisis. It demonstrates compassion and understanding of the hardships the audiences may be going through (weeks stuck in the house, a lack of food, and a lack of income) while also creating some good PR for the brand and keeping the brand in the public eye. Don’t get me wrong, these actions help the business too, but the way they have been presented is spot-on, taking the focus off of the business and instead focusing it on consumer pain points.
Stay The Course And Stay Connected With Your Customers
It’s up to you to decide how you want to present your business during this time. Similar to marketing during an emergency situation or natural disaster, marketing during a pandemic requires a thoughtful approach and mindful messaging. The last thing you want to do is appear to be capitalizing on a crisis situation. On the other hand, you do have a business to run and marketing plays a crucial role in driving business success.
As a content marketer, I am inclined to take the long-range view and work slowly but surely to build a loyal customer base. If you read my posts regularly, you know that I always advise readers to focus on the customer and the audience. What do they need? How can you meet those needs? The situation is no different now. Keep asking yourself what your customers need, how are they affected, and what you can do to help them, then do it. It’s that simple.
How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected your marketing approach?