How to mindfully market your business during a crisis

5 quick-fire tips for marketing during covid-19

The world has faced and come out the other side of virus outbreaks, world wars and natural disasters, but Covid-19 is different. It’s the first of its kind to take place in a time where technology is so readily at our disposal; connecting all of us around the world and providing businesses with a global stage to do the right or very, VERY wrong thing, with the whole world as the audience.

There’s no comprehensive step-by-step playbook on how to market your business during a global pandemic. Number one – because, in case you haven’t already heard, these are unprecedented times. And, number two – it would need to be tailored to suit different countries, personal beliefs, and a businesses size and industry.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a short, but broad list of things you could do to market your business during a crisis. Not all of the tips may suit your business, but I hope you’ll find a few helpful action points to put one foot in front of the other, and make it out the other side (Don’t get excited, it’s a metaphor. Stay home).

1.Talk about it

The first two ‘Covid-19 update’ emails we all received seemed great and communicative, but if you received an email from every business you’ve ever given your email address to and didn’t read a single one, so did your customers. Unless your business has a change of circumstances that immediately and directly affect your customers, hold off on creating that email.

Instead, if you usually post on social media, send regular email newsletters, or write blogs for example, don’t shy away from communicating, simply make a nod to the situation we’re all facing. Not only will your content be more relatable, but this process might also help drum up some new content ideas.

Your customers are humans and the majority of them will love to know that your business is run by humans too. It’s better to come across as real than to be thought of as inauthentic or robotic.

Take action:

Make tweaks to your planned content to make reference/reflect the new circumstances. Be real and genuine. If this crisis is impacting you, don’t shy away from mentioning it or making a nod to the current circumstances we’re all in.

Now is also a good time to brainstorm new, relevant content ideas – like sharing your at-home workouts… just kidding the internet is solely made up of workout videos and covid-19 memes at the moment. 

(If you’re qualified and offer quality at-home workout content, sorry. Please keep sharing, you’re making the world a less scary place for when we all eventually emerge. If you make memes, keep doing that too, I’m your biggest fan.)

Memes aside, here are some content examples I thought hit the mark:

Ok, I’m breaking the rules and this is an unofficial point 1b. 

Because we’re on the topic of content…

If you’ve ever had the burning desire to share your intelligent, timely, thought-provoking, ideas with your audience before, there has never been a better time. In short, I’m talking about thought-leadership content. People are consuming content by the gigabyte, and, if you have something valuable and insightful to share with them, you’d be throwing them a line in a sea of cheap, deletable emails. 

Thought-leadership content can set you apart from competitors and lead to better business results. If it’s something that’s piqued your interest, do some research (here is a great place to start), check out this study by Edelman, and open up that google doc to get writing.

2. Check all existing content you have out in the market

You might’ve ticked this one off already when you followed tip #1, but it’s still worth a separate mention. 

This applies to any business that has advertising or content currently circulating. No, you don’t have to go through all of your old Instagram posts and change the captions. But, if you currently have advertising running, now is the time to double check what it says and ensure you’re not inadvertently coming off as insensitive or distasteful.

That ‘How to fight off the man-flu’ blog you wrote two weeks ago was funny and helpful when we weren’t all locked in our houses afraid of a virus. So if you currently have paid advertising on Facebook sharing that blog to your target audiences, now is the time to change it. 

You don’t have to turn off your advertising, simply do a sweep of the content you have live to check the tone, vocab and tense. However, if something reeeally doesn’t fit the times, take it down or turn it off.

Take action: Check all existing content you have out in the market to ensure you don’t come across as insensitive or distasteful. Don’t forget to check:

  • Facebook ads
  • Nurture/automated emails
  • Search ads
  • Web copy
  • Out of home advertising
  • Anywhere else that your business usually gets a lot of eyeballs

3. Find a way to help

Helping out might not be realistic for many businesses. It will really depend on your industry and cashflow. While it would be awesome if every business could afford to be charitable during a crisis, it’s definitely not the case, and that’s okay.

If you are in a position to help, AMAZING. Take a moment to think about what aligns best with your business and values and find out how you can offer support. A Covid-19 example might be a women-led business donating and promoting the Women’s Refuge “Gift a safe night” initiative that is combating the rise in domestic abuse during NZ’s lockdown period.

Helping out doesn’t have to be monetary, you could spread a few smiles and a little bit of joy instead. After all, putting teddy bears in windows for kids to count while out for their lockdown walk didn’t cost anyone a dime. What creative initiative could you come up with?

Take action: Find a way to help, whether it be charitable or just by spreading a bit of joy. Or, if you’re out of dollars and creative ideas, just being a decent human works too.

4. Learn about the changes in consumer habits

You might have a bit of extra time on your hands that you should spend learning about your consumers (If you don’t have time, sorry but you should still do your homework too).

We’re all consuming more information and content than ever before, but we’re also faced with a pretty bleak economic climate. So where and what are your target audience/s consuming, and how are they spending?

You might not be able to pay big dollars for a firm to conduct research for you, so you could start with an informative, visual representation of how Covid-19 has impacted media consumption like this one. Then check out platforms like Google Trends, or consider surveying audiences using a tool like StickyBeak, and continue your study from there.

Take action: Research, read, learn about  and/or survey your target audiences changing consumption and spending habits during this crisis (and keep the study going post-crisis too, knowledge is power).

5. Don’t strive to be memorable

This isn’t really a proper tip on how to market during a crisis, but I thought I’d sneak it in anyway. 

Being a memorable brand or business during this time might be a good thing, but you could easily wind up with infamy instead of glory. It’s important to remember that while you might be able to implement some great, charitable initiative, or provide some uplifting resources for your audiences, you don’t need to strive to be remembered for doing something ground-breaking during a world crisis. 

It’s better to play it safe rather than chasing positive publicity and instead falling short and coming out with a new label you don’t want, like ‘opportunistic’.

Take action: If you are remembered for acting favourably during a crisis, extra brownie points for you – just remember to credit me and this super helpful blog 😉

This blog was written by Michaela Egbers, OneUpOneDown mentor and mentee, and Marketing Manager at Parkable.

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