The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way businesses operate, and it’s unclear if things are ever going to be the same. Many industries have ceased operations, while some are experiencing a surge in demand. Everything is a result of social distancing measures, fear of traveling, and the pivot to online and digital marketing.
Now, companies are feeling the effects of the statement, “If your business is not online, you’re falling behind.” Wherever you fall in this spectrum, you have to consider that your audience is also struggling right now. Many have lost jobs or their ability to earn, a lot are struggling to make ends meet due to pay reductions, and there are still those who aren’t able to make the shift to remote working environments.
If you want to ensure business continuity and survive this pandemic, you will have to maintain consistent and relevant messaging with your customers. Here are a few tips on how to navigate this situation.
1. Put your customers’ needs front and center
If there’s anything you can do to lessen the negative impact on your consumers’ lives, you should go ahead and do it. This can be in the form of discounts, extended billing period or payments, or information on resources that matter most to them.
Do not carry on the business like nothing’s happening. It’s important to acknowledge the pandemic and offer something of value to your audience. Otherwise, it might come off as your brand being insensitive, careless, or opportunistic during a highly-stressful time in many people’s lives.
The best way to think about this is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Put all of that customer profiling to use and see what the life of someone you regularly market to look like at this moment. This pandemic wasn’t anything the majority of people were expecting to witness in their lifetime, so many were unprepared. A lot more are affected than those who say they are not.
2. Listen to their problems and respond with empathy
The best way to know what your customers need is to ask them. Launch a survey for how you can help, or what your brand can do to alleviate them of specific issues they may be facing right now. A lot of this may be financial, so be prepared for that.
Right now, responding with empathy is the best way to go. Offer them multiple payment options or the choice to cancel their service with you temporarily (for example, suspending an active package or freezing a membership). Then, let them know that they may be able to resume when things are more convenient for them.
You may also advertise resources that may not necessarily be related to your brand, but will be helpful to those who come across it. Things like mental health articles, messages of hope, and safety procedures, can be beneficial during these times.
3. Reevaluate your marketing materials
Some companies may be afraid to market as usual for fear of being criticized. The truth is, you can still maximize your digital marketing presence and continue brand awareness campaigns by creating relevant content. This probably means you might have to park all the assets and projects you prepared months ago, though.
You can update your website, put up dedicated email support, social media pages, or hotlines for those affected by the pandemic, write inspiring and helpful articles, and be active in supporting local communities or charities. Let this be how people remember you during this pandemic—not through the products you’re offering.
If you show your customers that you genuinely care, they will form trust in your brand and remember your company in the future.
4. Keep things light, only if applicable
With all the stress and negativity on social media and in everyone’s personal lives, a little bit of lightheartedness and humor can go a long way. This may be the last thing on your mind, and you may think that it’s only a recipe for disaster—and in a way, you should be cautious when implementing this in your brand messaging.
Only do this if you’re sure that you’re not poking fun at peoples’ misery or making their problems seem insignificant. You can bring appropriate humor to the things people are facing, such as the so-called new normal, social distancing, and more.
If there’s absolutely nothing you can say that will contribute to something positive or light on your feeds, then it’s alright to stay away from this tactic. One brand making a joke doesn’t immediately mean you should follow suit. Instead, consider putting out personalized messages and hopeful content that your audience can resonate with at this time.
5. Don’t release tone-deaf statements
The worst thing a company can do right now is releasing a statement that can be incredibly tone-deaf.
In the age of social media, free speech, and the progressive 21st century, people have become a lot more sensitive and conscious towards various societal issues—and this is a good thing. This only means that people are evolving to become better versions of themselves, and we as a society are all expanding our minds and the way we view certain things.
So, if you feel that you want to advertise something with a potentially controversial message, consider every opinion about it in your company. Don’t just leave this to your marketing department—everyone has a say online, and so should your whole team.
If you have your marketing materials reviewed by your team across different departments, you can drastically reduce the chances of you putting out a statement that could do more harm than good.
Adjusting Your Marketing in the Time of a Pandemic
Many are unsure of where the future lies for them—and unfortunately, your business may be in the same position, too.
Hang in there. The best thing to do is to lead with the heart. Your messages should show some humanity in there. Beyond being a brand, tell your customers that you understand where they’re coming from and that together, you can overcome these troubling times.