No one expected 2020 to turn out quite as it has. As the coronavirus pandemic continues, we are all finding ourselves adjusting to a new, strange normal. And the impact of COVID-19 is being felt by every business across every sector.
As marketers try to maintain revenue flow and keep customers engaged during this exceptional time, they will be battling with a number of different questions.
How much should we talk about the coronavirus? What should we say? And how we should say it?
Do we carry on our marketing activities as normal? What if we come across as insensitive or opportunistic?
Business-as-usual might feel surreal at this moment in time. But marketers need to be thinking long-term. They need to keep building their brand and engaging with their audience.
So here are our top tips for managing your marketing activity during this period of uncertainty.
Work harder to retain your existing customers
Communication is key to keeping your existing customers.
Be upfront with your customers about what the coronavirus means for your ability to provide your product or service. And inform customers of your strategy against the coronavirus so they know you are taking the situation, and their needs, seriously.
Emails are the most effective way of keeping in touch with your existing customers on important information regarding coronavirus. Equally, maintaining communication with your customers on social media will provide them with easy access to the information they need.
Is there anything else you can do to support your current customers during this time? Perhaps you can offer video consultations where you might usually meet a customer in person. Or maybe you can provide faster delivery times so people can get the things they need faster while popping to the shops is not an option.
Your existing customers should be your top priority. Any way you can support your customers will help you to increase brand trust and loyalty.
But don’t forget about leads
With so much going on; from trying to maintain business-as-usual, while adjusting to working in dispersed teams, and focusing on looking after your existing customers, it’s easy to lose focus on generating new leads.
But by continuing to put time and effort into driving conversions you will ensure you have a pool of potential customers once things have calmed down.
Those changes you’ve been thinking about making to your website? Now is the time to put those thoughts into action.
By making small changes to your website or the customer experience, you may be able to convert more visitors into customers. And be sure to measure the impact of any modifications you make. If something works, then do more of it.
Review your scheduled activity
Do your scheduled social media promotions, blog posts and email campaigns make sense in the current environment?
Now is not the time to be promoting a live event, for example.
Don’t forget about your automated emails either, especially if you operate a bricks and mortar business and regularly send people reminders to drop into your store.
It might just be that you need to tweak the tone of a social media post or update an email newsletter with a link to your company’s statement on the coronavirus.
Decide what you need to cancel immediately and what to push back to once the outbreak subsides. The good news is that if you’re pushing things back, you’ll have content ready to go once the dust starts to settle.
Just be mindful of what your customers will be thinking about at this time and make sure you aren’t pushing messages or content that will be wholly redundant or hit the wrong note.
Leverage social media
Social media is a handy tool both for keeping your audience up to date with vital information and increasing engagement.
Use social media to reach out to your audience to see how they are doing. What are they struggling with? How can you help? With everyone staying home, people will be craving that social connection.
Your buyers may also be looking for fun and interesting content to distract and entertain them. What could you add to your Instagram Stories, for example, that might offer your customers and prospects a bit of light relief?
How can you tap into what people are experiencing right now? Just as you have had to adjust to a new remote working reality, so have your customers. So why not share some lighthearted content showcasing your teams' work from home set ups or some of the challenges you're facing?
By showing your audience you're all in this together, you can help to build a closer relationship. Customers are going to remember the brands that were there for them through the hard times.
Up your video content
At a time where people are missing those in-person connections, video can be an excellent tool to leverage.
I get that it might be tricky to create video content right now. You may not have access to a camera, the right lighting, or editing software.
But if you already have a library of video content that you could be using at this time, then now could be a good time to push that content.
Or, consider posting videos on your Instagram Stories or other social media accounts to help customers to feel more connected to you.
Strike the right tone
No business wants to come across as opportunistic or insensitive. But that doesn’t mean you need to be bleak and gloomy.
During the 2008-2009 recession, many brands created marketing campaigns around the themes of hope and optimism.
Let your brand mission and values set your tone. Stay true to who you are. And be human. It’s still ok to show passion, humour and personality. It will only help to make people feel more connected to your brand.
Now more than ever is the time to remember that your customers are real people, and are experiencing many of the same challenges as you are in these uncertain times.
So if in doubt, before you post a blog, share something on social media, or send an email; think about what value it will offer to your customers and whether it will be helpful to them at this time.