Marketing During a Crisis
It’s safe to say that the coronavirus, now a worldwide pandemic according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), constitutes a crisis. The ramifications have already been far-reaching, forcing many changes to everyday life. Marketers are not immune to COVID-19 and should take steps to adapt their messaging.
Major Events Demand a Course Correction
Flexibility is an important buzzword in marketing. Being agile allows you to take advantage of shifting marketing dynamics, changing customer needs and competitive threats. While it’s important to act quickly, the reality is, your marketing plan was probably created months ago, making changes difficult. But pivoting is important during times of crisis.
Shifting your message successfully depends on the nature and extent of the crisis. If there is an issue that affects only your company, you should focus on a communications strategy and cost management plan. Keeping your staff informed is of the utmost importance. Make sure you communicate clearly and regularly, keeping them abreast of what’s going on. Honesty and transparency are key. You don’t have to disclose confidential information or reveal things that are undecided, of course; but sharing as much information as possible will help rein in the gossip train. Support your employees as much as you can during this period of transition. Once you have taken care of your staff, it’s important to communicate with your customers, as well. Treat them similarly, employing openness and honesty. Routine communication during the crisis will help show you are making progress and helping to mitigate a negative situation.
Things are a little different when the crisis doesn’t just impact your company—especially when it’s a global concern, like the current coronavirus. The COVID-19 pandemic is already forcing marketers to adapt to a new environment. Flexibility and agility are more important than ever today. With the cancellation of events and imposition of travel restrictions, your customers are going to be affected, like it or not. How you respond to these disruptions is crucial in your long-term success.
This is where creativity and ingenuity come in handy. Revisit your marketing objectives and determine new ways to achieve them. Innovation is key here: now that you have eliminated programs and strategies that have traditionally worked for you, you’ll have to come up with fresh, new ideas.
To help you brainstorm, listen to your customers, study the latest marketing trends, and look at what your competitors are doing. Many businesses are publicly announcing the steps they are taking to help combat the coronavirus; this is a great way to reassure your customers that you are being proactive and have their best interests at heart.
Nobody can predict the future…but we can take steps to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. Developing a solid crisis plan through a clearly defined communications strategy and being prepared to innovate and shift gears will go a long way toward helping you weather the storm.