Let’s face it. Until a vaccine is approved, COVID-19 will continue to hover over all of us, impacting our lives and the global economy. For marketers, it may seem jarring to push forward with brand messaging, however putting a freeze on marketing now is akin to slamming your breaks on the freeway – it will lead to disastrous results.
Instead, accelerate carefully but confidently to move your brand forward. Here are four strategic marketing shifts to watch for as you continue to navigate through this crisis.
DOUBLE DOWN ON TRUST AND TRANSPARENCY – Brian Bennett, STIR President
During times of crisis, you can increase brand equity by taking extra steps to identify with customers’ concerns and needs – assuaging their fears and going above and beyond their expectations. Now’s the time to emphasize product guarantees and offer refunds if products are delayed due to COVID-19 shipping issues. Businesses need to be transparent about how they are implementing new sanitization procedures to ensure customer safety, and respond within minutes not days to customer concerns. Be sure to avoid platitudes and only make promises that you intend to keep.
SERVE, DON’T SELL ON SOCIAL – Michael Ray, Social Media Director
With many continuing to work remotely, there’s a captive audience for brands to leverage on social channels. Instagram Live usage alone has doubled during the coronavirus.
Social is a powerful and cost-efficient strategy for smaller brands looking to breakthrough. But more than ever, businesses should listen to social conversations and drive value-oriented vs sales-driven content. Build engagement through contests and quizzes. For example, we worked with a Wisconsin dairy client to implement a simple social media contest to win free cheese and in one month increased sales by 167%!
More online users are taking solace in planning for future activities, like trips to which restaurants they want to visit, so focus on positive, forward-looking messages. To help during this time, social platforms have designed COVID-19 specific resources to help business owners.
ADAPT YOUR MEDIA OUTREACH STRATEGY – Christel Henke, V.P. Earned Media
There’s been a seismic shift in the media landscape since COVID-19 and it has significantly affected what stories reporters are interested in and how they are presented (hello Zoom and Skype interviews.) That means even more critical thinking before hitting send on pitches to producers and assignment editors, judging by some of the bad PR pitches out there. Any pitches that smack of self-serving, will get tossed immediately but a story like how Wisconsin insurer Rural Mutual is helping dairy farmers make it through this crisis – that’s the kind of human interest that reporters are looking for.
For the most part, reporters are still inundated with COVID-19 news right now and they aren’t anxiously awaiting an email about your new widget – unless there’s some connection to the current crisis. If not, best advice is to wait it out a bit and monitor the news until the shift back to normal begins.
THE DIGITAL FUTURE IS NOW – Kevin Ciesielski, V.P. Digital
Work from home. Telemedicine. Zoom(bombing). Virtual conferences. Fashion sweatpants. Sourdough. Quarantine has thrust us into a future we will never fully return from. The Social security administrations is seeing productivity gain processing claims at home. Stock traders can now trade stocks from home. Is that right or wrong? Time will tell, but likely this is the new normal. And for many businesses, getting digital right will be a deciding factor on whether they come through this crisis stronger or have to close up shop.
For some, cancelled conferences and events, may result in extra budget and companies that haven’t prioritized social, SEO or influencer-led campaigns, are now finding it’s time to dip their toes in the digital waters. And those nice to have digital initiatives you had in the hopper for 2022? Do them right now. Digital couponing, advertising, ordering and delivery if you are B2C. Air dropped custom swag and spiffs for your employees, clients and prospects instead of in person meetings. StackAdapt, for example recently sent herb garden kits to its top clients – the perfect balance of thoughtful and relevant, and one that will remain top of mind for marketers who need programmatic ads.
As you rev up your marketing engine during this time, make sure all the gears of your digital marketing machine are ready to go.