COVID-19 gave us a bumpy start into the year and it seems like we’re still not out of the woods: The global economy is taking a historical hit and the path to recovery will be a long one. But how does this pandemic affect your media and marketing strategy? How should you address the current situation? Should you communicate what steps you’re taking as a company? How much should you share with your customers and when is the right time to do so? Crisis Marketing is now at the top of everyone’s agenda, and the experts from Anchor Digital are here to unpack it for you.COVID-19 has the potential to create more permanent behaviour changes in the ways we shop, consume media and how we view brands. Now that we’re all spending more time at home, and social distancing rules are officially being enforced across the country, many industries are taking a hit. Local businesses are carrying the heaviest burden, with many having to temporarily shut down their operations, not knowing if and when they’ll be able to open their doors again. At the very least, businesses are taking the foot off the gas, and adopting a “wait-and-see approach”. For any business that has been struggling before COVID-19 hit, this will be the time of truth. As Warren Buffett put it: “You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out”. But even though we can not predict when things will return to normal, we do know: The only way out of this crisis is through. To survive this economic slowdown we need to show empathy, resilience and agility. As you are trying to navigate this crisis, we would like to provide you with the insight needed to move forward. Are you worried about the prospect of managing team productivity and client communication during quarantine? Here are a few lessons learned by the Anchor team on working remotely during this global crisis.
Successfully Managing Marketing Efforts During a Global Crisis
This is not business as usual. To get you up to date, we have created a guide on how to keep your crisis marketing efforts helpful, useful and informative - not exclusively but especially, during a pandemic. Keep in mind that there’s no one way to communicate with your customers, and how to effectively and appropriately get your message across, might look different from business to business.
Responding to a Global Crisis
The coronavirus is creating disruption far beyond the borders of this nation. In times of a global crisis, communication becomes a fundamental tool: Digital marketing can help you to get in front of your customers and it can, in some instances, be the only way to connect with your audience. But first, you should step back, reflect and reevaluate your current marketing strategy. Ask yourself: Are you providing content that is sensitive to your audience’s needs and emotions?What can you change to align your business, product and services to this new world? Are you still targeting the right audience in the most effective way?
Should You Re-Evaluate or Pause Campaigns?
You have most likely spent a lot of time and effort planning and strategizing marketing activities before COVID-19 became so prominent in all our lives. Scheduled posts, emails, and marketing campaigns do not have to be paused, but there is a need to reassess campaigns in order to identify insensitive content. Sometimes a few tweaks to your copy are enough to show that you’re being empathic. Sometimes it means rethinking all of your scheduled campaigns.
- Re-evaluate all scheduled emails, blog posts and social media content and tread lightly in regard to self-promotion. Check whether your automations are still appropriate or if content needs to be adjusted to be more helpful and informative.
- Avoid the use of insensitive language (such as making a discount code “COVID19”) and the promotion of sales. Make your tone match the current climate.
- Ask your audience what resonates with them. What do they want to hear from you and how often? A great way to do this is via social media polls or a call-to-action at the end of an email update.
- As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, your target audiences and consumer behaviour may have changed drastically. Make sure to monitor client profiles meticulously and address any changes - especially before publishing a campaign that has been scheduled months ago.
Times of Financial Hardship
All of a sudden, we are finding ourselves in self-isolation, focusing on taking care of ourselves and loved ones, while trying to juggle the demands of work and home life. But not all of us have the luxury to work from the comfort of our homes. Whilst the digital industries, like many others, are in the lucky position to be location independent and any team member can easily work from home, millions of people need to be physically present to do their jobs. Navigating this situation is tough. The common message we see across platforms is: We’re all in this together. COVID-19 has brought huge changes for all of us. While we are scrambling to adapt to these uncertain times, we should not be taking advantage of people’s hardships. Instead, we need to be supportive and sensitive to the struggles of others.“It’s about striking a balance between staying top-of-mind without appearing to capitalize off of a global health crisis.” - Alison Schiff, 2020 (Ad Exchanger).
Promoting a Sense of “Togetherness” - Not Products
People are now more than ever, seeking support, connection and a sense of community. This drastically changes the environment in which brands operate online. So instead of selling your products based on its features, take notice of the opportunity to capture new customers and promote a sense of “togetherness” by providing compelling, encouraging content and spreading some joy to take your customers’ minds off the news cycles.
Not sure how to connect with your audience? As millions of people find themselves in lockdown, they’re turning toward social platforms, and streaming services to find distraction. Research by United Media Solutions, an independent agency specialising in digital and social marketing to the Chinese market, found that during periods of isolation, “participatory topics and activities such as games, voting and questionnaires are receiving a lot more attention and being shared further across online networks”. These behavioural changes could offer your business a greater chance of being seen, so show presence on social media!
Be Prepared for an Increase in Customer Inquiries
Your customers will have a lot of questions about how the current state of things affects the availability of your products and services. While you need to stay true to your brand’s values, you also have to keep in mind what the reality looks like for many of your customers and set realistic expectations.
- If you are not sure that you can deliver within time and budget, consider rational changes to your normal policies. This could include extended payment periods or voucher expiry dates and allowing for cancellations to be made without hassle.
- Be proactive and craft messages for social media and email distribution that already answer common questions.
- Make sure that your customer service representatives are well informed on the new regulations and if necessary, temporarily transfer qualified team members on to the customer service team to help with the increase in demand.
Make up for Missing Technological Know-How
With physical events postponed, social distancing rules being implemented and travel heavily restricted, moving online and turning in-person events virtual and interactive, is the best solution for many small businesses, who are the backbone of Australia’s economy. We currently see a massive increase in content being created for digital platforms. But, not everyone is ready for the transition: 59 per cent of small Australian businesses still do not have a professional website. Which indicates that many business owners are struggling to navigate the digital world.
Many fitness and yoga studios, like the Brisbane-based yoga and pilates studio Soba, are now empty, but teachers, having lost their income are becoming creative using Zoom and Instagram live to host donation-based online classes.If your product or service is something that is difficult to provide digitally, content is a great alternative to remain at the forefront of consumers minds, maintain brand awareness, and stay relevant in your industry.
In Times of Crisis, Communication is Essential
Being agile pays off when market dynamics suddenly shift and consumer demands change. This holds true for your crisis marketing strategy, too: When you are faced with a major disruption, let’s say a disastrous weather event, a financial crisis or, in this case, a pandemic, a course correction becomes unavoidable. We at Anchor understand that it can be a bit overwhelming. With so many things happening at once and lock-downs in all parts of the world, news cycles are moving at lightspeed - and you have to be ready to adapt at a moment’s notice. Not only your team but your clients too need to be well informed about the measurements you’re taking.
We Do Not Know the Future, But We Can Prepare for It
If you have concerns about where the future of your business is going, how to best make use of your marketing budget and would like to discuss how the coronavirus might affect your current marketing strategy, then get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.If you have thoughts to add, get in touch with us at https://anchordigital.com.au/contact-us/! At the time of writing, the total of reported cases of COVID-19 stood at 1.263.976 confirmed cases. With the final severity of the pandemic yet to be realised, we would like to emphasise, that caution from advertisers remains well placed.