COVID-19 Communicating in times of crisis
These last few days have been hard and will continue to be so for a while yet, as we all figure out what...
It’s challenging right now. Many business owners are unsure what their industry is going to do – will it survive, will it grow, will it go in a different direction?
Don't wait until level 1 to start advertising again. In this current state of flux, I understand that it’s difficult to know what to say to your customers/clients. We all know that it’s not going to help matters if we stay quiet but saying the wrong thing can be just as damaging.
Revising, adjusting and considering your marketing messages as we move through the levels out into what can only be a turbulent economic environment is something all business owners must give brain space to.
Economic uncertainty makes everyone reconsider where their hard-earned dollars will go. Many will save, and many will be wary of public face-to-face interaction for a while; and many of us have found a new love for online shopping. There’s also an up swell of commentary around buying local or NZ made. These ‘intentional spending’ behaviours should all be central to your decision making as you create marketing content now and in the future.
Take a short pause if you haven’t already and figure out what your clients are saying. Read the room. Put yourself in their shoes. Look at the data you have, read the comments, read the reviews, send out a survey, look at your local regional development agency, industry publication or chamber of commerce survey results and engage with your customers. A pause doesn’t mean stopping your advertising, or communications, it means giving your communications some real thought to figure out ‘what’s next and what does it look like’.
Don’t wait for level 1 to start advertising again. To do so is to potentially lose market share. A competitor may take this time to skip ahead of you. But don’t act like everything’s ‘normal’ and restart your ads without checking and adjusting them to this current environment. People might need a little empathy, a little humour, a little less confusion and they need you to be adaptable and honest. Share your stories, share your ideas, share your plans, share your people, highlight your expertise, your community, tell your stories – and remain true to your brand.
Give some love to your long-term customers. Customer loyalty is so valuable. Treat them with respect. Can you make their ‘pain points’ go away after lockdown? Your brand advocates may not buy straight away, but they’re the ones that will generate that ‘positive word of mouth’ marketing for you long term. Cherish them.
How consumers think and feel is going to be important for a while, and you must consider the current trends as you continue to shape and reshape your marketing communications going forward. If you haven’t spent time figuring out who your ‘buyer persona’s’ are and what their values are, then give that some real brain space too, as knowing how to talk to them and what words to use, will stand you in good stead going forward. If you come out with a hard sales push, you may get a negative reaction, be seen to be ‘taking advantage’ or ‘tone deaf’ with your approach. This can be really damaging to your brand long term. Really, truly think about the words you use and the approach you take.
Take a look at your marketing goals and brand keywords, positioning statement and visual imagery. Adjust them if needed. Pivot a little so your customers’ needs in this economic situation and your goals are always in alignment. Regularly revisit your communications calendar – and look at key dates, key campaign activities and figure out what they now need to look and sound like.
In time, things will return to some sort of pre-covid ‘normal’ and customers will re-engage with your brand more fully. Until that time, you must give your customers/clients good reasons to spend those really valuable, hard-earned dollars with you.
In a nutshell, stay current, keep in touch, build/foster your community and create powerful, appropriate, targeted and well thought out content.
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