Stay connected to customers and generate new leads during the coronavirus pandemic, with our guide to marketing effectively through a crisis.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, most businesses are now past the initial reaction phase. They have eliminated any non-critical expenditure. They have protected jobs through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. They have sent out emergency comms to customers.
What to do next
Don't go silent on your customers. The best defence in the coronavirus crisis is a strong marketing offence with clear and regular communication. Be proactive. Let people know your business still exists, how you can help them, and how they can get in touch.
Think beyond the pandemic
Time is moving slowly, especially for businesses in retail, hospitality, and travel. But this will end. It's temporary. Businesses like yours can get through this. You may even come out in a stronger position, with fresh ideas and motivation for the future. You may also be inspired to help people in a new way with a new service.
Think outside the box
People still need things, of course. Maybe you already provide them. Perhaps you don't, and so you need to "pivot" and adapt what you do.
Create a list of everything people need right now and over the next few months – things that can still be provided even during the lockdown. Here are just some examples:
- legal advice
- financial advice
- fresh food
- cleaning services
- home or vehicle repairs
- gardening services
- urgent pet care or pet food
- health services and products
Is there something on the list you could provide or support other businesses with?
Take the time to plan
If you are in a financial position to get through the pandemic and then continue your business after, you have time on your side. Take the time to think and plan effectively for your new marketing strategy.
How to market in a crisis
Set clear goals
Your marketing targets will have shifted. Some of them simply won't be possible, like those that relied on physical visitors or outdoor media.
So it's time to create some new marketing goals that you can realistically achieve during (and after) the lockdown.
Being agile and flexible in your marketing isn't going to be enough. You must add creativity and innovation. How can you benefit from the technology available at the fingertips of you and your customers?
We are huge fans of using design sprints to help teams solve pressing problems. A design sprint is a methodology for bringing together a diverse group of marketing, sales and customer service people to generate ideas and solutions.
A design sprint can take you from facing your problem with an empty whiteboard in front of you to a solution you have tested with customers. All in just five days.
Design sprints can help you answer questions like:
- What do our customers wish we had or would provide to them?
- What do our competitors do that we don't in terms of marketing?
- Now that certain marketing channels are temporarily ineffective (for example, outdoor advertising), how can we achieve the same thing in other ways?
- Are there any new technologies that might be useful to us?
As part of the design sprint, you would conduct customer research, like online interviews or video calls. These are used to flesh out your ideas but are also a great way to connect with some of your most valued customers who will appreciate you reaching out. You can then engage them again to test your potential solution.
Design sprints are the perfect remedy when you need to innovate rapidly. They can also help your business create a long-term culture of innovation.
Read our article for the full benefits of design sprints
Create new key messages
Everything has changed. Your customers' perspectives, attitudes, and budgets will have changed completely. So your marketing messages must change too. It is an extremely prickly time for many people and many businesses, so sensitivity in your marketing is essential.
Many big brands have got their marketing messages and overall approach completely wrong and damaged their reputation as a result. I'm sure we can all think of some examples here!
Make the most of your budget
Where marketing campaigns in the past often took a 'scattergun' approach across multiple channels, budgets will be so restricted now that you're best testing a single channel first.
For example, you may find that a Google Ad display campaign with just a few ad groups is the right place to start. Or a social media campaign, using the network that has proved most effective in the past – and some creative copy – to generate leads.
Make sure that all of your marketing programs, people, and tracking technology are working. This will help you to see what is working well and get the most of your budget.
Crisis marketing examples
Here are some cases of how we're helping clients to market their products and services during the pandemic:
Fire Surround Centres: We rapidly designed and launched a Remote Survey Service to help Fire Surround Centres stay connected with customers and guide them with preparations for their new fireplace or stove without risk or delay. A secure online channel enables customers to speak with the customer service team directly, and show them where in their home they would like their new fire or stove. Technology to the rescue!
We promoted this new lockdown-compatible service across social media and through a press release sent to the local chamber of commerce, newspapers, and related trade magazines.
NHS Scotland: We regularly provide marketing campaigns for NHS cool2talk and one2one. They offer a safe, confidential space for young people. We recently helped them pivot with a new message of support, "We're still listening".
NHS Scotland must be able to market these services effectively during the stressful pandemic and lockdown period. We're helping them do just that.
Start to think about post-pandemic marketing
In our next article, we will be taking a look at getting ready for business after COVID-19. This will cover things like what you will need to get ahead of the competition and start providing a full range of services to customers once again.
Maybe you'll continue where you left off pre-pandemic. Or perhaps you will have a whole new approach to try. But, again, you have time on your side now to plan and get ready for that happy day when lockdown restrictions lift, and it's full-throttle for your marketing.
Follow us on social to stay tuned, or subscribe to our newsletter!
Our special offer to you
These are challenging times. Leads and sales may feel slow or stalled completely. And sadly some businesses now face closure. We want to do everything we can to help support you reaching out and keeping connected with your customers.
Have a FREE virtual coffee on us
We promise it tastes better than it sounds! For the entirety of the lockdown period, we are offering a free consultation service to explore how you can adapt to the current challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
Book a free chat with us, where we'll focus on ways to pivot during COVID-19 or preparing your business and brand for after lockdown, looking at things like:
- Brand – write key messages and communications for email, social media and website
- Digital – identify opportunities to take areas of your business services digital
- Campaign – define your approach to the rest of the year and create a plan of action for during and after lockdown
And depending on your organisation and project aims, there may be funding opportunities available to you. If budgets are particularly tight, let us know, and we'll see what we can do too. As we say – we want to help.
So whether you're looking to write messages of support, pivot your campaigns to work in the current climate, or launch a new digital product, please get in touch and let's do this together.
We are available 9 am to 5 pm every Monday to Friday to have a chat on the phone or, even better, over a virtual coffee on a video call. You'll need to make your own coffee. So if you fancy a chat, simply get in touch.