By Tabasum Lutfi, Chief Operating Officer at TriVision
As the world is shaken by a global pandemic and accompanying global recession of seemingly unprecedented levels, businesses and industries of all sizes are scrambling to stay afloat. The advent of such uncertain market conditions has caused a sudden shift in consumer behavior.
All organizations, regardless of their sector, will need to ask themselves the question: what kind of a communications approach should be implemented during such an unprecedented crisis? Should the entire marketing budget be put on hold, or are there impactful ways to invest in keeping stakeholders informed and connected?
Here are some tips to reenergize your digital marketing and content strategy amid the Covid-19 pandemic:
1. Stay Connected
In a time when there are more questions than there are answers, clear, objective, and sustained communication with both internal and external stakeholders is critical to keeping your business afloat.
First and foremost, if you are still operating and providing services, let your stakeholders know. Do not assume they know you are still open for business. These are uncertain times, and there is no room for assumptions.
Second, communicate how your organization follows guidelines as set out by public health experts, and specify the steps you are taking to ensure the safety of your staff and customers. Be active on social media and send out regular e-newsletters. Consistently keep your audience informed and engaged by providing them with helpful resources and tips on coping with the situation.
Find ways to conduct business virtually. Turn your in-person events virtual. Whether you are holding weekly staff meetings on Zoom or hosting a webinar, there are plenty of simple-to-use, cost-effective (or free!) technologies within reach to stay connected.
Staying quiet during a pandemic will only make your business seem out of touch, or out of business.
“In a time when there are more questions than there are answers, clear, objective, and sustained communication with both internal and external stakeholders is critical to keeping your business afloat.”
2. Make It About Your Customer
The overarching idea behind the ideal marketing strategy is to change it at the very core, and shift from ‘how to sell more’ to ‘how to support my customers more efficiently.’
Now more than ever, the customer should be at the center of your marketing and overall business strategy. Listening to them and monitoring their behavior on social media and other channels will help you act accordingly and create fresh and relevant content that builds loyalty, rather than a backlash.
One way to help customers notice you is to show you care about the social dimension of this pandemic. Make a contribution, donate, or stand for a cause. Donate masks to the local hospital and clinics. Waive extra fees and offer discounts. Offer free refreshments or meals.
Big brands are already doing this. Starbucks – a global coffeehouse and roaster chain – is giving away free coffee to healthcare workers. Uber Eats – the online food ordering and delivery platform owned by Uber Taxi – is waiving delivery fees for independent restaurants in an effort to promote struggling businesses.
Timeliness and flexibility also matter. React quickly and make changes to your business practices as per new government restrictions.
3. Focus on What Your Business Does Well
Find creative ways to help your customers get through these difficult times by offering them services that are at the core of your business. This is the time to offer them a taste of your knowledge and expertise.
For example, if you are in finance, offer them a free virtual consultation or webinar on how to save money during the pandemic.
If you are a gym or fitness instructor, set up free online workout sessions for your customers (and their friends) to join from home. You may not be making direct money from it, but it will certainly help maintain your customers’ interest and loyalty, plus expand your reach.
F45 Training, which has a franchise in south & north Kabul, is doing this by launching the “F45 At-Home” workouts via the F45Challenge.com website or app. This program is open to anyone with an active F45 membership in any of their global studios.
“The overarching idea behind the ideal marketing strategy is to change it at the very core, and shift from ‘how to sell more’ to ‘how to support my customers more efficiently’.”
4. Update Your Digital Content
Your messaging and tone matter today more than ever. The content you post should be mindful and empathetic. With so many people losing their jobs and feeling anxious, this is not the time to be opportunistic and promote products that won’t sell or use the COVID-19 crisis as a cover for personal gain.
Your customers – and potential customers – are paying attention and will notice if you are constantly pushing advertisements, or are tone-deaf to what is going on in your surroundings. Post content that is more empathetic, in touch with reality, and provides people with value in some way, whether in the form of information or entertainment.
For example, share fun ways of how you are working from home or maintaining your mental health. Share a new skill. Share a cool new app you discovered. Share positive inspiration. Start a fun challenge on social media to get people to communicate and learn about each other.
You can also search for content ideas online using Ubersuggest or MOZ Keyword Explorer to find out what people are searching for online. Keywords like “free online courses”, “cheap digital games”, and “virtual travel” have gained popularity during the past few months (not surprisingly). Consider how these high-traffic keywords apply to your brand and create a content marketing plan to educate but also inspire your audience.
5. Pick the Right Communication Tools
With so many people quarantined at home, now is the time to grow your own media presence. This includes your social media, website, email blasts, blogs, and digital media.
In addition to social media posts and e-newsletters, write blogs or an e-book offering helpful hints and best practices on a subject that may be helpful to businesses during these challenging times, such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Making a landing page on your website dedicated to the coronavirus with helpful resources and updates. You can even make a video with a message from your CEO or executive team about the measures you are taking to minimize the spread of the virus within your organization.
Start a podcast. Just like a blog or YouTube channel, a podcast is another way to build an audience. With 32% of Americans listening to podcasts monthly, this number is only expected to grow with the rise of voice technology and smartphones. Podcasts are on-demand, quick to digest, free, and easy to create, plus they help you expand your reach and build your brand.
Finally, use this opportunity to start that TikTok account you wanted to launch for your business – or even for yourself. Everyone, from celebrities to brands and influencers, uses TikTok to grow their following and be entertained while staying at home. Use TikTok’s easy-to-use tools to create fun and branded content. You never know, just one piece of content has the potential to go viral and allow you to build a huge, new audience.
The key in TikTok marketing is to find a niche (a problem you are trying to solve), stay consistent, and have fun with it. With over a billion monthly active users that are actively growing, this is a huge opportunity for businesses to set their footprints on TikTok early.
There are many ways to get your message out and keep your audience engaged virtually, as long as you are consistent in your approach, stay relevant, and offer value.
“With so many people quarantined at home, now is the time to grow your own media presence. This includes your social media, website, email blasts, blogs, and digital media.”
6. Do Not Eliminate All Advertising
While it is wise to slow down on your paid advertising, it is unnecessary to eliminate all advertising. People are now online more than they have ever been, which presents more opportunities for your business to be relevant.
Instead of slamming the brakes on all ads, reallocate your budget towards areas of your business that may be more strategic at a time of so much uncertainty.
For example, if you are an app that helps people learn a new skill, you can run ads on YouTube to get people interested, considering many are at home trying to figure out what is next. Or, if you are a creative marketing company, you can run a social media campaign to help brands with their digital marketing efforts.
“People are now online more than they have ever been, which presents more opportunities for your business to be relevant.”
7. Take This Unprecedented Situation as an Opportunity to Grow
Use this downtime wisely to do things for your business you never thought of before. Build a crisis communication plan to ensure your company is ready for the next time an epidemic occurs.
Think outside the box and find gaps in the market to build on new business opportunities. Do things you always wanted to do, learn a new skill you never thought was possible or had time for, and find innovative ways to grow personally, professionally, physically, and mentally.
We will get through this only if we set aside our differences and stick together as a global community. Work hard, be persistent, patient, and never ever give up hope.
8. Ask for Help
Whether it’s reinventing a new marketing strategy, refining your messaging, developing new digital content, or improving your social media efforts, don’t hesitate to ask for outside help.
Reach out to us for a complimentary consultation to help reboot your company’s marketing communications efforts during (and after) the Covid19 pandemic. Contact one of our marketing professionals today at TriVision.com.