The COVID-19 pandemic caught the world by surprise. Not only did this situation shift business trends, but also manipulated consumer priorities and the entire marketing landscape. It has posed unforeseen challenges, some restrictions and an opportunity for brands marketers to empathize with their consumers.
Since the implementation of lockdown and social distancing has got online engagement surging, the route to communicate with your audience is wide open. Now it’s time for smart marketing!
Here are a few tips that will help you explore this new route. Let’s start with the most important one:
1. Adjust existing timelines
Start with foraging the pipeline and consider what is currently running or in the pipeline that is set to launch soon. Classify them into what can be paused or scrapped at the moment and what is to be prioritized.
Taking a break from the usual content and jumping on the COVID-19 bandwagon may prove to be advantageous. Prepare for anticipated events in the near future, like lockdown extension and post-quarantine. Figure out a way of communicating that will be most impactful and balanced with your brand’s identity. Constantly reassess the content and campaigns to match up with the dynamics of the market.
Don’t compromise on the frequency of communication with your audience, modify it!
2. Don’t stop. Refocus!
Don’t press pause on your interaction with the audience. Highlight the silver linings and inform them about the ways in which you can offer help. If you cannot help with your product/service, provide some solace instead, with your content. Use this time to groom your brand’s identity with new content pegs and campaigns, other than those focusing on COVID-19. Be smart about how you market your products and whom you market it to. Here’s what you need to consider:
- Acknowledge the elephant in the room (COVID-19 pandemic).
- Empathize with your audience. Let them know you’re in this with them.
- Be translucent about changes that the pandemic has brought about to your brand and reassure them that the quality of your service/product will not be impacted by the pandemic.
(Source: @fevicolkajod https://www.instagram.com/p/B-9cvXdCI34/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link)
If you run a marketing agency, this should be a good time to refocus your efforts and start targeting businesses in these thriving segments.
3. Be careful with the language and imagery used
Think about what communication route your brand will be taking. Accordingly, create temporary content and design guidelines that adhere to the current situation. Here’s a checklist you must consider:
- Remove or avoid the use of visuals where people are crowding or have physical contact with each other
- Avoid using words that are synonymous to death, destruction, or anything related to such negativity
- Don’t over-step with humour and sarcasm while talking about the prevailing issue
- Be factually correct at all times. Don’t mislead your audience
- Avoid violent visuals
While it’s common and necessary for brands to preserve their conversational tone, you need to play safe and keep it simple and direct. Keep the tone positive and helpful.
4. Stay up-to-date
There’s always a new update on the COVID-19 dashboard that can be incorporated in the ad-hoc contextual content that you are creating. You need to be agile and react to the recent updates “ASAP”.
For instance, a lot of brands chose to be transparent about their work-from-home setting and this move has won them the trust of their clients and customers. It conveyed to their audience that fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and keeping their employees’ safe is their priority. It also convinced them that the brand will continue to be at their service even during this challenging time.
Sending out mailers to update about all the extra precautions your brand/company is taking to keep their consumers safe is a smart move. A crisp and clear view of the other side may help.
(Source: Dominos India mailer- For Domino’s, Safety comes first; Dated: April 19)
If you are a digital marketing agency, keep a tab on the news so that you can pitch an idea to your client around it. This will help you and the brand start a trend.
5. Don’t Try to Capitalize on the Crisis
At a time when fear and anxiety are clouding your existing and potential customers’ decisions, you may need to stop hard sell and resort to empathizing with them. If your brand/service has the potential to benefit during the lockdown, press play with a campaign that makes it available to the customers. If not, play safe!
This applies to any crisis or tragedy, however big or small.
Even amidst this pandemic, keep your audience at the forefront of your action plan. Make a note of these pointers:
- How does coronavirus affect my audience?
- How does it affect their preference for my product/service?
- How can I make life easy for my audience?
- How can your brand help consumers, clients and our partners?
Comprehend the answers and collate a filter which can help you pick and choose ideas.
6. Focus on current customers.
New client/customer acquisition is a challenge as references of customers are fickle during such times. So keep your existing customers close, by making them feel important. Happy clients help you with the traditional method of marketing: word-of-mouth marketing. Engage your customers with your brand as they have a lot of time on their hands. Consider these engagement ideas:
- Show them behind-the-scenes – Customers are often curious about a brand. Give them a peek into how you are dealing with the pandemic situation.
- Ask for reviews & testimonials – Customers who never reviewed your service/brand have the time now to do it. Ask them to share their experience with your brand and leverage these testimonials to stay active on media platforms.
- Start or reboot loyalty programs – Give them a reason to stay. And if you have a loyalty program, double it and offer some rewards.
- Pre-sell gift cards- Create incentives to buy now with additional perks that can be redeemed post lockdown.
- Propose non-traditional ways to help- Step out of your comfort zone and attempt to assist in any way possible.
For Instance, Swiggy, a food delivery app started delivering groceries and other daily use products for its users.
7. Get Creative
You are in an unexplored territory. You can choose a road not taken and start your new fad. Experiment within boundaries and find a creative route to address the current situation that best fits your brand’s image. We are in uncertain times, but that cannot stop you from devising impeccable PR and marketing strategies. Arrange for some brainstorming sessions, every now and then with your team and get few experts on board to configure out of the box for solutions. Make a statement with content that will stay with your audience after the pandemic eases out. Take a stand on a certain issue if necessary.
For instance, create content from UGC campaigns to make your consumers feel involved.
8. Invest wisely
Recently, paid ads are becoming cheaper. Traffic on the web is high and advertisers are fewer. Return On Investment (ROI) is higher on paid ads than it ever was before. With brands/companies willing to cut down on marketing and advertising costs, this may prove to be a more sustainable choice.
Invest time and money in boosting your SEO and being more visible to your audience so that they remember you when the lockdown opens.
9. Offer educational training
With demand-deficient unemployment at an all time high, people are looking for new opportunities. More people are looking to enhance their skills to have an upper-hand at landing a good job. On the other hand, those sitting at home wish to engage in more productive things rather than just sitting idle for long.
Collaborate with experts from your industry, and sketch out a course/masterclass/webinar/training LIVE session for your audience. Pick topics related to your brand. This may boost engagement too.
It is surely a challenge now to keep up with the swift changes in the market, but don’t miss out on the novel opportunities to take your brand a step further. Take the swing with the current situation to discover a new side for your brand!