Because of the COVID-19 crisis, the world is practically in lockdown.
The pandemic that has resulted in almost one million infections and tens of thousands of deaths in 199 countries (at the time of this writing) has had an even greater impact on businesses.
- The U.S. stock market experienced its biggest decline since 1987—dropping a whopping 2,353 points in one day
- Many brick and mortar stores have been forced to shut down indefinitely as part of social distancing efforts
- Most businesses have reported a sharp decrease in customer activity and a revenue—with hospitality company Marriott International reporting up to 90% decline in revenue in some locations
Things likely will get worse before they get better, but for businesses to survive this pandemic they'll need to be smart about how they approach their operations—particularly marketing. Here are some dos and don’ts while marketing during a pandemic:
1. Do: Communicate with customers
It’s natural to feel that you have nothing to say since you’re not a health authority, but a pandemic has ramifications that go beyond just the health of the people in the region affected.
The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has pretty much shut down most countries and has sent stock markets crashing. People are afraid and panicky about the impact the global crisis is having and will continue to have on their daily lives.
Communicating with your customers shows that you're sensitive to what's going on and can empathize with them. With a pandemic the scale of COVID-19, during which physical movements have been deeply restricted and many people are forced to work from home, it also allows you to reassure customers that your operations and services to them won’t be affected in any way due to the changes brought about by the pandemic.
Your communication should:
- Acknowledge the pandemic and its impact on your audience’s daily lives
- Empathize with your audience members and assure them that you’ll be there for them
- Discuss changes that the pandemic has brought about in your business, if any, and how the changes affect them
- Reassure them of the quality they should expect from doing business with you, and let them know that this won’t be impacted by the pandemic
No more leads will fall through the cracks. Keap software promptly responds to incoming leads and existing contacts by sending highly personalized communications that drive action or sales. Demo here: https://t.co/nsWYIuaOic pic.twitter.com/Gey1qdo2BZ— Keap (@KeapGrowing) March 30, 2020
2. Don't: Stop communicating with customers
Most of your customers are probably very confused and don’t know how to deal with the changes going on as a result of the pandemic.
Other businesses probably have stopped (or will reduce) communication with them as a result of the pandemic, and that will only further drive the panic and uncertainty surrounding the crisis.
If you stop communicating now, you’re likely to lose a good portion of your customers to competitors that are still communicating with them—and it will be difficult to gain them back once the pandemic is over.
This is the time to make even better use of marketing communication tools like the one provided by Keap; keep your email marketing schedule consistent, and make sure new content is consistently being delivered to customers.
3. Do: Restrategize and focus your marketing efforts
While many businesses have suffered significant losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, not all have been affected negatively. In fact, some have experienced their biggest growth:
As the trend shifts toward remote work, video communications company Zoom has seen its stock almost double since the pandemic began—gaining as much as 22% in one day even while the entire stock market plumetted.
Ecommerce giant Amazon has experienced surging demands beyond what it can handle and says it will have to hire at least 100,000 extra workers.
Nose masks, respirators, hand sanitizers, tissue papers, and other health-related items have experienced such great demand that they're mostly out of stock—resulting in a boom for the companies manufacturing them.
Those are just a few examples of successes companies in different industries are experiencing thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, and they demonstrate that every cloud has a silver lining.
For you as a business, this means you have to be smart about how you market your products and to whom you market; for me as a freelance writer, the solution at this point isn’t to start looking for the next best marketing service but instead to identify thriving niches and prospect for potential clients in these niches. If you run a marketing agency, this should be a good time to refocus your efforts and start targeting businesses in these thriving segments. If you’re in the hospitality industry, you don’t necessarily need to stop marketing but instead focus on planning for when business can go back to normal. Regardless of the nature of your business, you can always restrategize.
4. Don't: Stop creating content
Many businesses in the same industry as yours will probably drastically reduce the amount of content they create or stop creating content altogether. This presents an opportunity for you.
Don’t stop creating content. Instead, double down on content creation, and make sure some of your content addresses key questions your customers might have as they go through the pandemic while also creating other types of content; these pieces of content will give you a massive advantage when things settle down. Your competitors will then be scrambling to create content but you’ll already have a lot of content ranking well in the search results.
5. Do: Review your automated marketing activities
Automation is good and might be the driving force behind most of your business revenue—but that was before the pandemic. Keeping those automations active without updating them to reflect changes caused by the pandemic might make you appear insensitive and more focused on profits than people.
Make sure you review your automated marketing activities including email messages, ad campaigns, and other aspects of your business.
6. Don’t: Decrease your marketing budget
It's important to realize that the pandemic will affect other businesses in your industry as much as it affects yours. While other businesses are panicky and stopping operations, this is the time to increase your marketing efforts.
At times like this, ad rates are likely to decrease significantly due to a lot of organizations cutting on their ad spend; this means your ad dollars will be able to go much further than they would've gone during normal times. It will also allow you to gain market share and be the dominant voice while others are inactive.
While many businesses have stopped all marketing efforts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, now's a good time to increase your marketing efforts while following the above best practices.
About the author
Bamidele Onibalusi is a freelance writer and the founder of Writers in Charge, a leading blog for people who want to get paid to write.