Marketing in times of Coronavirus is a challenge for all brands and marketing professionals. Neither you nor your client would want to fall behind the competitors. Thus, the engine needs to keep running but taking the right and ethical steps as we operate is essential. No matter what our businesses are, this is a delicate time to stop, reflect, and learn for all of us.
The area of industry is the major determinant of whether the situation is a blockage or a stimulant. If you are marketing hygiene products, medical supplies, digital communication services, personal fitness materials, or any other category that is relevant to the needs of people during the pandemic, now is your time to come forth.
Yet, for some brands, staying silent can be the right move. For example, Coca-Cola froze all of its commercial advertising operations in the Philippines and channeled its advertising budget to the Covid-19 relief.
How are businesses impacted by Covid-19?
Some industries such as tourism and hospitality, aviation and airlines, automotive, oil, and gas are severely affected as a direct result of social distancing. Due to changes in demand and priorities, people are naturally drifting away from categories such as luxury products, apparel, and consumer electronics and rather turning towards health and hygiene products, insurance policies, digital entertainment, and home delivery services.
Tips for PR and marketing during a crisis for freelance marketing and creative professionals
#1 Observe your target audience and empathize
Put yourself in the shoes of your brand’s customers and think of how you can make life easier for them. If you are not sure about whom you are communicating with, invest your energy, time, and resources to do some research on your audience or ask your client to fill you in about the current state of your community.
Remember that travelers cannot travel, therefore the locations of your customers could seem more steady than they used to be. Consumer behavior has shown a drastic change with more and more people focusing on only fundamental needs. You can see considerable changes in connecting and engagement behavior, too.
Even if you had a prospective 2020 report from December 2019 at hand, it may not be up to date anymore, simply because needs and ways of meeting those needs have changed. You now have a more anxious and motionless base composed of more connected people, meaning that they are spending way more time online; namely on social media.
At this stage, you should look for ways to be transparent and sincere to your existing base, which you need to focus on maintaining instead of expanding. Talk about what measures your brand has taken for its employees and what it is planning on doing for the customers.
Support and safety should be your top priority.
#2 Review your touchpoints and tone of voice
Social media’s marketing potential being said, be present as your customers are scanning through news or trying to feel less lonely during this time of social isolation. If your brand is relevant and you still have the potential to offer your services, don’t be hesitant to communicate across different online platforms.
See if you can virtualize some of your services if you have not done so. Be reactive and let your base react by giving them a chance to express themselves through some engaging content oriented to online marketing.
Here is a small guideline for your content strategy:
Ask your base how they feel, how their work is affected and what they need. This will not only show your community that you care about them, but it will also feed you with valuable insight. Keep your eye open for changes in sentiment and concerns.
Give your base information about your capacity at this time. If your services are disrupted or products cannot be delivered due to closing down in sales points or limitations in transportation, your customers should be clued up.
Show support by offering whatever you can. By reviewing the current and prospective finances of your brand, you can determine points of assistance, such as discounts, relief or donations. If you do not have the means, you can focus on delivering encouraging and uplifting content to help improve the morale of your base.
#3 Adapt your ads and visual content plan
Revisit your marketing strategy for sponsored content. Expansion and increased visibility can take the back seat for now. Promoting your measures and stance in relation to the pandemic would be wiser than promoting your services and products. If you wish to pursue campaigning, you should gravitate towards sincere, informative, donative and advisory marketing campaigns.
Ads that were scheduled at earlier times can turn your base against you if the context is indifferent to the current situation. Halting them would be reasonable, but if you must keep at it, consider targeting a location that is affected less by the pandemic. Take a step back, be critical, and do not run any ads that you would not want to encounter as a consumer.
Reexamine the frequency of your content plan across different platforms. Your overall communication strategy will need fine-tuning. Consider revising the number of your posts and the nature of your messages. Visuals are also of prime importance at this point. Remember that everyone is at home, therefore avoid showing outdoor scenes and people in close proximity in your images.
#4 Forget about sales or at least keep it at minimum
Acting or sounding opportunistic could bring irreversible damages to your brand reputation at this stage. Brands should not show signs of using the pandemic as an advantage. Don’t push the connection between the pandemic and your brand too hard. You can use staying home as a theme as everyone else does, but stay on the mark instead of completely assigning your services and products a brand new utility.
It may not be a good time to focus on sales. If you are indecisive, you should be closely monitoring your competitors as well as reactions from their followers. In general, it is wise to keep your branded content at a minimum.
If sales are your only means to stand on your feet, you can perhaps consider engaging discounts and promotions with goodwill. This way, you can restore your finances as well as loyalty among your community.
#5 Plan ahead
It will take time, but we will get through this. Don’t hold yourself back from thinking about the next quarters. Be prepared for the times of recovery and the days when the dark clouds will vanish. Have a positive look, but in the same breath don’t forget that a substantial loss is anticipated, so be careful not to celebrate progress prematurely.
This crisis has shown us all that emergency plans are essential, whether or not there is an expected disturbance. Use the Covid-19 experience and data to set a flexible contingency plan for the future.Think of the pandemic as a stepping stone. Use this time to reevaluate the purposes and quality of your up-and-coming products/services. Ask yourself how you can bring practicality and innovation in the game.