Most of us didn’t expect the coronavirus to impact our companies and customers so directly or quickly. Organizations of all types and sizes have had to adjust with postponed or canceled events, limited store hours, and new ways of serving their target audiences. Many people are even running nonessential businesses from home to maintain social distancing guidelines.
But small business leaders can still be creative and stay connected with customers during this crisis. Check out these four tips for marketing during COVID-19.
There’s a lot of fear and panic surrounding the virus, so it reassures people when they know how the companies they do business with are preventing it from spreading. For example, if you’re a restaurant owner, you can email customers about contactless delivery options (where you bring someone their meal and leave it safely on their doorstep).
You should also let people know if you’ve changed your business hours, or if they should expect a service delay of any kind. If you own a home remodeling company, for instance, you can work with your client to update the timeline in their contract if you need a couple of extra weeks to renovate. Most people will be understanding with changes and delays, as long as you clearly communicate with them.
While people will give you grace during a crisis, you still don’t want to appear ignorant or insensitive of what’s going on in the world. That’s why you should review your marketing campaigns and events as soon as you can. Are they still relevant and appropriate given the circumstances? Do you need to update any content or mark events as postponed?
For example, if you were about to promote a dine and donate fundraiser, you’ll want to pause or postpone that (since people can’t eat in restaurants right now). Or, you can update the campaign to a takeout or delivery fundraiser. And if you were going to host an event, you could try turning it into a virtual trade show or conference.
This is a great opportunity to review your overall marketing strategy and tactics, too. What is (or isn’t) working? For instance, maybe you’ll start running social media ads to promote your restaurant’s delivery or virtual contracting consultations. Or, you could write educational blogs as a free resource that customers can enjoy from home
Once you’ve decided how to update and carry out your marketing tactics, it’s time to consider your messaging. Misinformation and dramatic language have added to the panic many people feel during this pandemic. To combat this, only quote and share credible news sources regarding COVID-19 (and anything else, really).
You might also want to change phrasing that may be offputting during a time of social distancing. For example, you could say “support your customers” instead of “get closer to them,” or “schedule a virtual appointment” instead of “get in touch.” While it’s not the end of the world if you say “get in touch” (and it’s obvious that none of us are getting too close right now), being generally thoughtful in your messaging won’t go unnoticed.
And empathetic, positive content can position your business as a trustworthy guide that can help people navigate this time. AdAge’s Bob Garfield said it well: “There is always a bull market for optimism when there is a bear market for everything else.”
Bringing positive messages to your customer base is a great way to foster community: something we’re all longing for right now. To stay connected with your target audience, make sure you’re posting consistently on social media. Most of us are spending more time online anyway, so your business might as well be, too!
While many organizations are closed to the public, you can still promote online deals or gift certificates through social media. This way, customers can look forward to visiting you once social distancing measures are lifted (and you can bring in at least a little income). You could also share free resources that relate to your industry, like workout videos or recipes. By doing this, you’ll be able to keep engaging with customers and providing value, even when they can’t come into your store or office.
When it comes to marketing during COVID-19, the worst thing you can do is to go silent. Your target audience may not be in a position to buy from you right now, but they are looking for resources, guidance, and (some) stability. A little empathy and clear communication on your part can go a long way in comforting your customers.
Our proven marketing protocol helps companies make more money, free up time, and plan an effective strategy.
Treefrog Marketing is an agency in Lafayette, Indiana focused on small business. We specialize in strategic marketing and advertising, graphic design, web design, social media, SEO, and more. For more information, please visit our website. You can also connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.