Allow me to preface this with an recognition of how difficult COVID-19 is. Personally, professionally, mentally, emotionally, every bit of our private and work lives has been impacted. Please don’t believe all the nonsense on social media about how productive, healthy and happy people are - the fact is, this is difficult, and the quicker we all acknowledge that, the faster you will be able to think practically. The honest truth is that there is no click button strategy to making money in a crisis - if there was, there wouldn’t be such things as crises in the first place. This blog is our advice on how to market and grow your business during a crisis.

You can also watch our webinar on how to market you business in a crisis here:

Our advice on how you can market your business in a crisis

Be positive but not tone-deaf

Like this blog, it is important to shine some light for your customers and community, but make sure you demonstrate awareness in any messaging and communication of what is going on. Suggesting things will be fine without any awareness of the impact this is having on people’s lives will irritate your database, and irritate them fast. Instead, leading by example and inspiring your community with well-meaning messages and a promise to do your best will go a long way; never underestimate the human touch.

Have a clear brand purpose

People don’t mind you being busy but they do mind shameless opportunism. Be as selfless as possible and do what you can to help and be clear that everything you are doing has a purpose behind it. You need to think long term as well as short term; people will remember how your brand behaved and will base their buying behaviours accordingly. 

If you can - invest in paid advertising

It may seem counterintuitive to spend money when you should be saving but now is the time to reach out to new customers. There is money out there and for most paid options, bids will be cheaper as your competitors are forced to drop out. To buck the sales trend, you need to buck the spend trend as well. Try and be clever; do your research on search activity and keyword choices. Now, more than ever, it will pay to have an edge.

Data capture now, upsell later

You can still grow your database - the more data you have, the more likely you are to upsell and gain word of mouth referrals. Try offering free resources, like whitepapers, digital training or online events. Once you have captured your prospects’ attention with useful information, keep them engaged, and you may see the fruits of your labours in the ensuing weeks and months. 

Review your content strategy

Look at topics, release dates and positioning - there is no point operating in a vacuum, so write content that connects the pandemic with your services. Think about changing release dates, writing new content, adapting your imagery to home-based photos and prioritising popular products. Do the work for your customers, don’t make them work out how you can help all on their own.

Download our free social media content calendar template here.

Dust off your customer profiles

It’s time to dig deep - you know these audiences well, so it might be time to reevaluate and consider what challenges are they facing right now? Changing priorities means a change in messaging and approach, so think carefully and consider doing some research. Forewarned is forearmed.

Pay attention

Now is the time, as a marketeer, to check in with sales and service departments to find out what your prospects are saying. What new questions are being asked, what help is being required? Again, the more information you have, the more appropriate your marketing becomes.

Adapt, adapt and adapt

Events can go virtual, content can be redesigned. It’s time to show how resilient you really can be - because this isn’t going anywhere fast. We aren’t saying throw the rulebook out the window, but you can’t be stubborn in an environment that is changing daily. Think outside the box and don’t turn down any ideas. Something that may feel weird now might be the new normal in a few months time. 

Do’s and don’ts when marketing during a crisis

Do's

  • Do – present a calm, reliable front online and on social. All messaging needs to reflect business as usual, strength and resilience - and above all else, honesty. Your customers and prospects won’t forgive you for pretending everything is great while it is falling away behind closed doors. 
  • Do – share resources to help and advise people. It is all hands to the pumps in this situation, so don’t be selfish.
  • Do – point out your value and impact. Demonstrate your worth and expertise by reassuring and offering services that will be in demand at the moment.
  • Do – think outside the box. What help do people need? What extra skills can you put to use? Do you have intrinsic value in your network you can leverage?
  • Do – look for online networking events. You can still feed your pipeline virtually.
  • Do - take a deep breath and stay calm. 
  • Do – step up. This is a time that will test each and every one of us but you have the opportunity to step up, learn and thrive off the back of it. Panicking will solve nothing. Action will.
  • Do - take the initiative to keep things light occasionally. Everyone is looking for some relief so a cheeky photo of a child or a pooch in the home office strikes the right balance of professionalism and personality.

Dont's

  • Don’t – share personal political opinions on the current situation. Presenting your opinion can alienate clients and you need to present a united front for your entire community. Things like petition shares and opinions on the prime minister can be reserved for personal Facebook accounts, or better yet, kept to the confines of your four walls.
  • Don’t - Mention lost business – this can make you look in a position of weakness. Prospective and existing clients need to feel they can rely on you. 
  • Don’t – use words like ‘chaos’, ‘uncertainty’, ‘trapped’, ‘downturn’ etc…. Even in a message of positivity and optimism, these words have negative connotations and can have poor subliminal messages. Instead use phrases like ‘if you’re seeking certainty’ or ‘if you need someone to rely on’, therefore presenting yourself as the safe port in a storm.
  • Don’t – mention that you have time on your hands. Similar to other points, prospective/current clients are looking for credibility and reliability. They might think twice if they see you kicking about at home or finding plenty of time for extracurriculars.

These are some suggestions on how to drive a business forward and buck the economic trends. The most important thing to do is be patient, both with the market and with yourself and your fellow team members. Marketing has the responsibility of brand awareness and, in some organisations, business development and lead generation: yes it is a lot to take on but think of the pride and joy you will feel alongside your wider organisation when you not only survive coronavirus but thrive out on the other side. I hate to parrot a cliche, but pay attention to all marketing performance at this time. This is a lesson you won’t get to learn again (we hope) and will inform the rest of your career and the present and future brands you support.

To learn more about SmartPA’s marketing support services, enquire below to hear how we can support your business growth.

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