Marketing During the Coronavirus Pandemic
April 9, 2020
During a time of unpredictability and revenue erosion, businesses should not panic or retreat; rather they should take control by connecting with customers.
From a business perspective, we're all together scrambling as our plans fall apart, and revenue erodes. So, what can we do to take some control during a situation that has become completely unpredictable, flipping our worlds upside down? Now don't laugh, but—marketing.
Often, one of the first things to get slashed when looking at expenses is the marketing budget. This fact has always blown my mind. Just think about it for a second. Business is down, and money is tight. What do you do? Turn off the lights, go invisible, and hope that people find you? For us, it's the opposite, and as it turns out, we're not alone in that thinking.
Don’t panic and don’t retreat. Do what you can to connect with your customers.
I just got a notification that my home internet data is at 75% of my monthly usage and it’s April 8th. I know I’m not the only one crushing data right now. Some of that is definitely video-conferencing, but a lot of it is pure media consumption. I encourage you to look at this as an opportunity. A massive audience, waiting for you to tell them something good.
Communicate – In this time of uncertainty, don’t leave people guessing about how to support your business. It’s important to be clear on details like updated business hours, ordering, and how people can expect to receive their service or product. Removing the guesswork not only makes it easier for people to support you, but you’ll also free up your own time by not having to answer clarifying questions.
Don’t Hide – Show yourself to your potential audience. Dust off your marketing hat and reconnect with your businesses’ value proposition. What makes you - you? What are some cost-effective ways that you can leverage to reach your audience?
Dive In – Get on the tools. Social media is a point of access to a large group of people. Start jotting down some content ideas that you can post about in the coming weeks. How are you communicating changes in your business? Are you offering curbside take-out? Are you doing delivery? How are your social channels helping communicate these things?
I encourage you to look at this as an opportunity. A massive audience, waiting for you, to tell them something good.
Most of us have seen the ads coming out, especially car companies, but the A&W Thank You ad is a sincere message from their spokesperson, seemingly self-isolating in his own home. I know that an A&W ad isn’t the most relatable piece of marketing for a small business but stick with me. This ad likely cost next-to-nothing to produce, and it presents A&W as the thoughtful, heartfelt, do-gooder brand that we’ve come to expect over the past couple of years. Call me a “sucker” but If I’m choosing between fast-food restaurants in the coming weeks, I just might give A-Dubs some extra consideration.
Lower Your Expectations
As my dear friend Julian Faid says before his live improv shows, “let’s all take a deep breath in together, and then go ahead and lower our expectations.”
For many, it’s crisis mode. Meaning, every. single. decision. that’s being made is directly tied to the sole purpose of staying afloat. This means it might be time to toss a hail mary. I know that resources are tight so I want to be clear that I’m approaching this through the lens of “what is the cheapest possible thing I can do to get out there.” The outcome may not include record-breaking profit, but it might be just enough to keep you going through an extremely tough time.
Take a moment to consider the following:
What’s something you’ve always wanted to do with your marketing but haven’t ever had the time or motivation to do it? Is now the time you tackle your blog content? Will you move your store to an e-commerce platform?
Many of our clients have quickly shifted to online stores. There are cost-effective e-commerce solutions, and it could be the thing that keeps you going.
... And ask yourself this
Have I done what I can to pivot my operations to stay relevant during the Coronavirus health crisis? Am I communicating this effectively?
With the situation changing quickly, it can be hard for customers and users to know what is open and what’s being done to stay operational. We have created a great place for you to find inspiration, take a look at ‘Things That Are Open.’ Lift Interactive along with partners the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group, put together a website that acts as a central resource for business owners and customers. For businesses, it’s a free listing where you can showcase your business, let people know that you’re “Open For Business” and highlight any unique Coronavirus related offers you’ve put together. For customers, it’s an easy to navigate platform that showcases businesses and services in your area that are still working.
Each business is required to confirm their compliance with government regulations and needs to communicate their updated policies to ensure customer safety. List your business here.
Learn a new skill. For some, that might mean learning how to use Instagram and take better photos. Or it could mean that you’re logging into or claiming your Google My Business page to ensure your hours and images are up-to-date. Or maybe it involves jumping into Google Ads and setting up a search campaign, all on your own.
With digital ad dollars being pulled across the board, Google’s auction-based ad placement is optimal for lower-cost ad budgets, and it’s likely only going to get cheaper. If you can stick it out longer than your counterparts you can look to make some serious gains in your digital marketing market share.
What you do doesn’t have to be expensive, but as I said at the top of this post, do something.
We know that this is a challenging time for everyone, and it’s likely more about spending time on marketing than it is about spending money. So here’s a final thought for you to bounce around in your head...
For years we’ve been using the word “Authenticity” in marketing meetings, is it safe to say that a pandemic might just be the truest test of that authenticity?
We have shifted our service offering to help with lower-cost marketing support. Let us know if there's something you need.
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