As the COVID-19 crisis came to a head over the week of March 15th in Canada, one resounding message came through from many clients: Hit the pause button. Pause campaigns, pause social media, pause it all. This response is understandable given so much uncertainty, however, there is an argument why businesses should not hunker down with their heads stuck in the sand and continue marketing during a crisis like this.
Why Continue Marketing During A Crisis?
While we would never recommend trying to capitalize on a crisis, it is our opinion (and that of many marketers) that while most are not going to continue business as usual, this is a time where businesses can use digital marketing to keep their brand top of mind to maintain and grow a reliable, engaged, and eager audience.
Right now with the majority of social channels and digital marketing campaigns on hold, there is room in the market to:
1. Engage With Your Audiences
More people at home equates to more people online, and an added opportunity to reach a wider audience, engage and inspire with appropriate messaging, and keep that audience into the future to convert into customers when appropriate.
2. Increase Online Market Share
With a significant decrease in competition online, companies can increase their market share for when their customer audiences are ready to buy again.
3. Search Engine Optimization Strategy
SEO is often forgotten when it comes to a marketing strategy, but it’s one that can improve your company’s online visibility. If you find yourself with some time, use it to develop and improve your SEO strategy. Spend this time to develop blog or vlog content that will help identify why your organization or product is beneficial, identify areas for improvement on your website, clean up those long-forgotten citations. Spend the time while it’s quiet to set a base for improved online presence when the proverbial taps turn on again.
4. Make Website Improvements
When’s the last time your website had a refresh? What about that dated image on the home page? Now’s the time to add new imagery, create and upload videos, ensure all links are working correctly, and add some new content. Better yet, take the next step and take a look at what leaders in your industry are doing and emulate. If you have been thinking about an update, now is the opportunity to do it.
5. Improve Online Information
In addition to refreshing your website, do the same for all of you online touchpoints, including social media profiles, Google My Business, Trip Advisor, Yelp, etc. New photos and videos, new descriptions, etc., can help to refresh tired profiles to engage new visitors.
None of these recommendations for marketing during a crisis are short term, quick result strategies, but are aimed to provide results once the market turns around and your services are once again in demand.
6. Shift your Social Media
During social distancing and mandatory stay in place orders during COVID-19, more people are home and online, than ever before, providing companies with an increased chance to connect with audiences. In the past week, we’ve seen tons of brands getting innovative with their social media, including:
- Providing additional support for changes: How to cancel/reschedule a trip, return a product, shop online or in-store during the crisis.
- Live chats and videos: Engage directly with audiences to share knowledge or provide entertainment.
- Virtual experiences: Provide a tour of your business/facility at a time when people are looking for a distraction.
- How-tos or tips and tricks for doing ___ at home: Give your audience a way to engage while they are stuck indoors.
- Inspiration: Share inspiring photos, videos, and stories to keep your audience engaged.
- Reinforcing values: Continue to share social posts that are empathetic to the current situation and mesh with your business’ core values.
- Sharing customer/employee stories: Find a way to share stories about how others are coping – whether it be customers enjoying their products/services in a different way, reviews, or how your employees are adapting.
Not sure how you should engage with your audience and be marketing during a crisis? Ask! Create a poll or send an email where your audience can vote or reply.
Whether your organization typically puts in a minimal effort into digital channels or already had existing campaigns and strategy, now is a perfect time to revisit, refresh, and revitalize – the sooner you do, the more on top your brand will be when everyone sees the light at the end of the tunnel, which we hope is soon. We’re here to help, if you need us, and would also love to hear how you and your business are handling COVID-19 marketing.