The impact of the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, is being felt across the global economy. Millions of companies, as well as those who are self-employed, are under immense pressure to adapt.
While everyone’s businesses are different, one underlying and consistent reaction has been to find solace, company and information online. The internet is now the place many of us go first to meet family and friends, find entertainment and read the news. What does that mean for a digital marketing strategy? As the founder of a communications agency, I believe the following four elements should be considered:
1. Stay in touch with social media.
Times of uncertainty end, and slowly, we will begin to return to a state of normality. That new “normal” might be a bit different, but that is why adapting is key. As a result, we’ll be able to provide stability to our employees and customers, both old and new.
When it comes to formulating a digital marketing strategy during a crisis, I believe the actions we take impacts that new normal. So, we must shape our social media communications appropriately. Don’t forget about your customers, and use social media frequently. Regularly posting can help strengthen customer relationships.
Share anecdotal stories and uplifting news from your company life. Use video calls and broadcasts to show how your business is helping the community or ensuring that service is being maintained. Messages from senior executives can also be especially powerful. Remember your customers, and they will remember you.
I’ve observed great examples of this in local food retailers. Many smaller bakeries, butchers and farm shops are using social media to reach out to their communities and offer services, particularly to those who are limited in their ability to shop for themselves. From my perspective, taking these extra steps can help build consumer trust and make your business memorable.
2. Send thoughtful emails to customers.
In times of crisis, send thoughtful emails to your customers. I have numerous emails from different companies that I buy from and others that I supply to. The most moving are those that are intimate, friendly and human.
There is a lesson here for all of us: Show your customers your kindness and that you are walking a mile in their shoes. Empathy is something that we, as humans, can relate to. This is a unique time to unite and support one another. Demonstrate your brand voice in a human way. Stay together with your customers, and build lasting relationships.
3. Support and develop local online communities.
Consider how you might be able to not only innovate your own service offerings but also support other local businesses online. For example, I’ve observed some food businesses have united with one another on social media groups to now offer food delivery.
Many brick-and-mortar shops have also switched to offering online services through Facebook and updated websites with simple online ordering and communications capability. Customers can place their orders online via messenger applications. If your business is bigger than a small shop, you can also arrange volunteers for food delivery or non-prescription medication delivery.
Get creative with your digital strategy, but stay in touch with your local government to ensure you’re operating within their required guidelines.
4. Prioritize people in your online advertising.
During times of uncertainty, you can continue online advertising campaigns, but your messaging will need to be adjusted. Focus on sharing your branding and values. Customers will remember the businesses that were there when they needed them and showed empathy, understanding and support. They’ll remember the brands that helped them when they were down.
Use unobtrusive content, and boost articles from your company blog with useful tips and tricks. If it’s difficult for you to generate new content, reuse elements of the information you’ve shared in the past to get more from something you’ve already published. What’s important is showing your customers you care about them. Low-stress, more thoughtful content is key.
Many of my clients’ executives view a crisis as an opportunity to reduce costs on advertising and marketing, but I believe this is counterintuitive. It’s important to maintain a dialogue and relationship with your clients. Remember to focus on the human side of your business. Prioritize people, not sales. Your customers will appreciate it and remember you for it.