10 Effective marketing strategies to adapt in times of crisis
The COVID-19 outbreak has drastically affected the business industry worldwide. Companies have shut down physical offices, resorting to work-from-home arrangements, with some even relegating to simply running with the skeletal workforce. Regardless of the set-up, virtual meetings have quickly become the norm, as team members huddle together in video conferences. Mostly, the topic of these online conversations is how to engage clients and customers despite the distance so that the business overall would keep running.
In this matter, it’s crucial to have a strong marketing strategy now more than ever. Uncertain times call for better business plans. Otherwise, there’s going to be some real dent on the bottom line, which would lead to budget cuts or downsized operations. With that, consider including these 10 strategies in your marketing strategy plan to survive, even thrive, in this pandemic or any other crisis for that matter:
1. Address your clients’ or customers’ needs
The simple truth is, people are anxious over these uncertain times. They’re concerned about their health, first and foremost: what if they catch the infection, how they’re going to pay for medical care, whether or not they can recover from the disease.
At the same time, they’re fearful for their everyday survival: how they can keep their pantries stocked, what if they lose their jobs, how they’re going to pay for bills, and many more. This is the perfect opportunity to look for ways to meet the real needs of your audience.
If your business is in the finance industry, produce content about protecting money during this COVID-19 crisis. If you’re in the food sector, give tips on how consumers can prolong the shelf life of food items. The bottom line is, anticipate their needs and from there, address them one by one. Follow this guide on creating a content marketing strategy.
2. Hit pause on your company press releases
The purpose of the marketing strategy above is to make empathy the center of your operations during this very fragile time in history. But while you’re prioritizing people’s immediate needs, set aside your sales needs as well. Now is not a good time to talk about your new insurance products, however ready your employees are to serve. This can wait. Those press releases can take a backseat for now — unless of course, your company announcements are related to COVID-19 response.
If you’re indeed in the finance industry and you’re offering a payment extension on loans, then that’s one exemption in the rule against company press releases. In fact, this announcement should be a pinned post on your social media pages. If your grocery store has opened up delivery services to keep people from leaving their homes, that press release should definitely be upon your website. For now-COVID-19-related posts, don’t cross it off altogether in your digital marketing strategy — just postpone publishing it.
3. Focus on being personal
It may feel like it’s tough to put a human touch on services, with social distancing and lockdowns strictly observed everywhere. But it’s possible to be personal with clients even on digital platforms. The key, as always, is authenticity in the marketing strategy.
Produce video content, sharing how you as a team have been coping with the crisis yourselves and what your plans are in protecting your clients and consumers. This way, your audience would see that there are real, equally vulnerable people behind your strong, professional brand, and would likewise feel that they’re cared for.
4. Tweak your language and imagery
Beyond the content topics and tone, the very text and visuals you use in messaging should be chosen very carefully before they become part of the marketing plan. Here are some reminders when reviewing your content:
1. Avoid using puns that tie into the crisis. Although under normal circumstances, ‘hot summer fever sale’ sounds very tempting, it’s not very tactful to use it at a time when people are literally getting sickly, fatal fevers. Change your language.
2. Rephrase other common terms. Replace phrases like “keep in touch” or “drop by the store” as these won’t be relevant now.
3. Drop the visuals that imply close, physical interaction. Images of social gatherings are likewise not as relevant as they should be now. Park them in the meantime.
5. Educate or entertain when posting on social media
Most of the people you’re catering to are cooped up in their homes, coping with the fact that they have exceedingly more time in their hands now. They’re likely on their phones or tablets, surfing the internet. Make their time online worthwhile by giving them meaningful content. Provide them with either education or entertainment.
Here’s one of the simplest, yet most effective marketing strategy examples: offer health-related content on your Facebook page. Talk about basic hygiene reminders or myths about COVID-19.
While you may not necessarily be in the healthcare sector, this “off-brand” content is acceptable, as people would want to keep themselves informed about the virus. Use different media, such as photos, gifs, and videos. As always, cite credible sources. If you want to keep content brand-related, do it with tact and empathy in mind.
As for entertaining posts, maximize interactive content that will engage your audience, Polls are a good choice. Ask them what their top grocery essentials are or how they’re coping with the lockdown situation.
6. Make your website more visible
As mentioned, consumers are most likely online, coping with the boredom of lockdown. If you want to catch them then, you should be where they are, especially when they search for your products and services. Search engine optimization is your best marketing strategy in this aspect. In a nutshell, you should have these things in place:
1. Run a technical website audit. Technical errors make it hard for Google to index or read your site. That’s why it’s important to perform an audit to know which parts of the website need fixing.
2. Re-evaluate your keyword strategy. Remember, keywords are the vehicle to which customers and clients find you. Understanding what phrases, they use is a core component of a marketing strategy. Over time though, search volume for keywords change. In fact, the very phrases change, especially in the time of crisis. It’s then important to reconsider what keywords you should prioritize moving forward.
3. Create targeted content. With fewer client and customer interactions, you will have more time to evaluate what exactly your audience often brings up in actual sale exchanges. Ask each of your sales representatives to enumerate top questions they encounter from consumers, and incorporate these into your content.
4. Update your old content. Yes, Google likes fresh, new content, but it rewards even simple tweaks like changing the date of the article to reflect the newer version. Include sprucing up old blogs in your marketing plan.
7. Improve local SEO
Businesses get affected as government policies change to curb the spread of the virus. As a result, consumers would wonder if you’re open and operational, which of your products and services are available, and many more. This is why you should never forget the local SEO in your strategic marketing plan.
Review your business listings in different directories. Update them, as necessary. Pay special attention to your office or store hours. If you can have past clients write reviews, better. With a couple of good ones, you can increase your credibility. Remember, that trust factor is especially crucial in a crisis.
8. Boost guest blogging efforts
Now that you have more time in your hands, saturate the web with more of your content through guest blogging. This has multiple benefits for you during this troubled time. For one, it will boost your site’s credibility and by extension, your search engine rankings, through backlinks. There’s greater probability then that your market who’s surfing the web to pass the time will find you once they hit enter on the search bar.
In addition, you’re able to reach a greater number of audiences, who can be potential clients and customers. Imagine getting published on an authoritative online fashion magazine or finance blog. Think about the avid readers you’ll be catching with your blog posts there. Thus, don’t forget to include this in your business strategy.
9. Reconsider the sales channels.
With lockdowns in place, physical trips to the store or your office won’t be possible anytime soon. It’s important then to explore alternative channels to sell your business. Obviously, digital is the way to go. Set up a page where people can order products online. This can be in simple Google Forms posted on your social media page or a well-designed website with online shopping features such as carts and digital wallets.
Meanwhile, if your main business is offering services, say, real estate consultancy or advertising, make yourself visible through webinars or premium content subscriptions. People at home are looking for ways to relieve boredom, remember. If they can tune in to your online training and learn a thing or two, then that’s not a waste of time, is it? Include in your marketing plan the sales channels you’ll be using.
10. Create a social media group
While social media is already given in every marketing plan, don’t just settle for setting up a winning fan page. Take note of the first tip: know your audience. People can’t go out and engage in personal interactions as of the moment. With that, they’re craving for some semblance of community. If you can provide that sense of fellowship and belongingness, then engagement with your customers and clients will increase. One effective way to provide that experience is to create your own social media group.
It’s better if the group is centered around the lifestyle or advocacy your brand represents, rather than the brand itself. People don’t like to be sold to, especially during this time. But they will most definitely support your finance company if you give them exclusive advice on how to best use their money during the crisis.
Times are changing, and so should your marketing strategy. Re-evaluate your plan and incorporate these strategies. The outbreak may be over in a few more months, but what you decide to do here now can surely bring a significant impact to your business in the long-run.