Marketers everywhere are facing new struggles in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As large group gatherings are banned, travel slows and offices are closed, savvy marketers must adapt quickly to changing circumstances and behaviors. While there is need for strategic action, there is no need for panic. To help you navigate this new landscape, we’ve come up with a few tips for marketing success.
Prepare Your Team
Protect your people by enacting policies and procedures for your team during the outbreak. Encourage employees to wash their hands, avoid crowds and keep distance between one another in accordance with the CDC guidelines. Any team member who feels sick should stay home and get tested for the coronavirus to be sure they aren’t affected.
Prepare your team for effective remote communication and collaboration. Set up contingency plans in case employees need to work from home or the office closes. Most teams will be able to continue day-to-day operations with virtual connections via phone calls, emails and Zoom meetings. You want to be sure everyone on your team knows how to operate any digital resources not used on a regular basis (for example, a team member may need to access to your company’s server through a VPN connection, which they wouldn’t need in the office).
Comfort Your Customers
Make sure your customers or clients know you’re all in this together. Address the situation directly by sending out an email from your president/CEO outlining the steps your organization is taking to manage the crisis – from following CDC guidelines and establishing sanitation measures to temporarily adapting policies according to the changing needs of your customer base. Above all, let them know you have a plan in place and that your organization cares about its customers and will be there for them during a time of uncertainty.
In any outbreak-related communications you want your organization to come across as calm and positive. Focus on the solutions your group is providing rather than the inconveniences and larger issues the situation has created. Be positive, but not lightweight. Remember that people are dying because of the outbreak and any attempt at humor or to profit from the situation would be inappropriate. This is a time to support your customers, not sell to them.
Things can change very quickly during a pandemic. Your team should be monitoring the situation closely and prepared to switch things up at a moment’s notice. Most businesses will take a financial hit before the crisis dies down. So think not only about what can keep your business making money right now but, perhaps more importantly, what will keep your customers coming back in the future.
For example, hotels might consider waiving their strict cancellation policies for cancellations made in response to COVID-19. Remember, you’re all in this together and your customers’ safety should be top priority. If your organization comes across as flexible and understanding, customers will be happy with the way things were handled and will keep coming back in the future. The opposite is also true. Companies that don’t put their customers first in a time of distress will receive backlash and risk losing loyal followers.
Your team may not be the only group going remote. If you have to close your physical space and customers can no longer come to you, try bringing your business to them through virtual experiences. Up your online activity via social media and email to stay top of mind. Livestream a private tasting at your restaurant to show fans what’s waiting for them. Give followers pointers for each hole on your golf course to get them excited for their next round. Engage your customers with creative content that teases your offering and makes them look forward to the next time they are ready to leave their homes and spend their money.
While things might look a little different for your organization in the midst of COVID-19 the key to marketing success is still the same: Put your customers first. Remember that, and to wash your hands, and your business will not only survive, but thrive.