It’s a difficult, uncertain time for everybody at the minute. In our current state of unpredictability, it can be hard to know what the right thing to do is in relation to your business. You don’t want to be seen as trying to capitalise on a disaster but at the same time, you don’t want to lose everything you’ve spent time and effort building. It’s an incredibly difficult balancing act to pull off. It can be hard to know how to approach this matter, how to communicate with your audience and find the best way to tailor your messaging when marketing during Coronavirus.

At this time, marketers need to remember to think long-term by continuing to build their brand, protecting their staff and honouring their values. No one is going to thank you or respect you if you’re thoughtlessly pushing products and services that aren’t necessary or needed given the current climate. In fact, it’s only going to turn people away from you and we’ve already seen many companies paint themselves in a negative light for trying to do so.

When a cultural moment shifts as dramatically as it has done recently in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s important that brands address the issue with care, empathy, and responsible marketing. Right now, marketing teams are facing unique challenges so we’ve put together some helpful tips and pieces of information to remember when it comes to marketing during COVID-19:

1. Adjust Your Campaigns and Scheduled Content Timelines 

Whatever your normal marketing plans were for this period can now effectively be thrown out the window. The first step you take should be to audit and assess what you are currently running and what is scheduled next in your pipeline. Certain campaigns will likely need to be paused and any scheduled content that could be deemed inappropriate or unnecessary should be put on hold. However, this doesn’t mean you should abandon these marketing campaigns entirely, it is likely that you may still be able to implement them again once aspects of everyday life start getting back to normal. Remember, your marketing should not stop altogether at the present time, instead think of it more as shifting the focus of it as opposed to cancelling it outright. As Client Success Specialist Lynne Clement emphasises, ‘The immediate marketing challenge for companies is building a relationship beyond what they sell and focusing on helping, not selling’ and this needs to be applied to both your present and upcoming campaigns. Not doing so now can be detrimental to your future successes.

2. Think Very Carefully About What You’re Saying

It’s important to remember this: don’t be too negative when communicating. People everywhere are currently being bombarded with new and scary headlines on TV, LinkedIn and Twitter every few minutes, they don’t need more negativity from you. This doesn’t mean you have to gloss over the situation with overly positive sentiments, but focusing on the negatives here won’t help your customers, and it won’t help your company. As well as this, avoid any corporate or sales speak. Instead, bring a personal yet positive approach to your messaging. The content you are putting out right now is crucial to how people will perceive your brand once everything has settled down. This goes for your imagery too, avoid using images of crowds, people touching or crowded workplaces that are not appropriate given the current climate.

In relation to this, Deliveroo has managed this issue better than almost anyone else. From the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak, they have been working hard to ensure that the restaurants, riders and customers they interact with are kept safe. They are constantly updating their messaging regularly, have introduced contact free pick-ups and are communicating with everyone they engage with in a positive, supportive and helpful way. By offering free meals to NHS staff, Deliveroo are looking to turn what many are seeing as their darkest hour, into a positive, life-affirming opportunity to help those who need it.

3. Focus On Your Digital Elements

More people are online right now, more so than ever before. They are working from home or in quarantine and unable to go outside in ways they normally would with some Internet providers currently seeing surges in usage. This makes shifting your focus onto the digital elements of your business the right thing to do. Ensuring that it’s operating effectively and hitting the right tone is vital right now. Your digital marketing and messaging as well as your social media platforms will be where the bulk of your focus should be. Raising awareness, solidifying your brand identity and commanding the right tone of voice are all things that can be done right now to help your company now and into the future. Perform an SEO audit of your site, start accounts on social platforms you don’t currently use, increase ad spending on Google and Facebook, whatever you are doing at the minute, make sure that digital is your number one priority. In fact, there is evidence to show that the companies who actually increase their marketing spending during times of crisis are able to generate the most success.

Digital fitness brand Peloton had to cancel deliveries of their products due to the outbreak, yet they have been able to shift focus onto their home-workout app, where their equipment is not needed, as well as extending their free trial period for 90 days. By doing this, Peloton are able to encourage users to stay fit and active during quarantine, something people may find difficult to do at the minute, as well as engage with their audience on new platforms in a way that helps users in a variety of different ways.

4. Keep In Touch With Existing Customers

Even if they’re not looking to buy anything right away, your existing customers are still crucial to your business operations. Treat them well now and they’ll be eager to engage with you as soon as they are able to. Reassure them that you’re there to offer them support, answer any of the questions and interact with them in ways that would not have been possible previously. Customer loyalty is incredibly important at the minute so if you give them respectful, personal experiences now, they will remember and repay it down the line. Listen and communicate with them through one to one meetings, phone calls, personalised emails, social media, newsletters or blog posts as your focus needs to be more on awareness as opposed to conversions right now.

Just to emphasise this, clothing retailer Passenger has built its identity around providing outdoor clothing for outdoor activities, unfortunately that isn’t the sort of thing people will be able to do right now. However, they are still communicating with their existing customers and offering them ways to escape. They are sending out regular newsletters to their subscribers, updating the content on their site and social platforms as well as even creating music playlists and live streaming sessions for their customers to enjoy. This approach shows that while you might not be able to do what you always have done, it doesn’t mean you have to settle for doing nothing.

5. Use Employee and Customer Generated Content

While it may be a sombre or scary feeling that many people around the world are currently feeling, it doesn’t mean you have to strip your company of positive emotions. In fact, this is an opportunity for you to use your marketing to try to bring joy into people’s lives. One way to do this is to use the quarantine as an opportunity to spotlight your people, your company and your culture. Show how your company is combating working from home, how are you finding ways to work together and have fun, or find ways to illustrate to customers that your company is still going strong and making the most out of this situation. You can even integrate and ask for customer generated content to really connect with the people who interact with your brand. Forming strong bonds based on positivity is an incredibly powerful and beneficial thing for your company to do.

Shinesty have wildly different, incredibly funny approaches to marketing at the best of times. However, during a time when working from home has become the new normal, they have encouraged their staff and customers to create humorous memes and videos showcasing their products with their unique brand voice attached. All to entertain and engage with their audience as well as generate unique content that makes them stand out even further from the crowd.

6. Find A Balance Between Silence and Oversharing

Being adaptable and communicating openly with your audience is pivotal as the world is seemingly changing on a daily basis. You don’t want to stay silent but reacting to everything and oversharing can have damaging effects to your company persona. It’s about finding the sweet spot between these two sides. Be empathetic and understanding of your customers situation, while still adhering to your brand identity. The last thing they need right now is a marketing message that is wildly insensitive, inappropriate or just ignores everything that is happening, but they do still want to hear what you are doing and how you are helping combat this situation. They will spot insincerity and a disingenuous approach a mile away. If you lose a person’s trust now, the likelihood of ever winning it back is minimal.

7. Do Not Try To Capitalise On The Situation 

This probably shouldn’t even need to be mentioned but, don’t try to capitalise on this moment and leverage it for your own benefits. Keep people informed of what you are doing to help in this situation as opposed to pushing products on them. Talk about the proactive ways you are aiding in this situation; store closures, employees working from home, alterations to shipping and deliveries or any new policies or measures you have brought in. Be empathetic, display humility and avoid tactless messaging, your customers will appreciate it now more than ever and repay it in kind once life again returns back to normal.

Sports Direct has faced an enormous public backlash after trying to keep open their stores and make their staff continue working in close proximity despite government restrictions. As well as this they have even raised the prices of the majority of their goods by as much as half. They have apologised since but such acts will be remembered by customers in the future who will choose to take their business elsewhere in light of these actions.

Final Thoughts

Remember that although the Coronavirus outbreak may not be good for your business, this phase is not good for anyone, but hold onto some important thoughts; this too shall pass and things will get better. Customers will re-engage and your brand will be here for them now and into the future, so protect it. Take the time to communicate with customers in more personal ways, look to focus on awareness and your digital profile as opposed to pushing for more conversions and find creative and innovative ways to adapt to the current situation. If you can get through this, you can get through anything.

The coming months will see you need to face new challenges, but we’re all in this together. So if you want any help, any support or need any questions answered, please reach out to us here at Appnova and we will provide it as best we can. And most importantly of all, stay safe out there.



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