During the COVID-19 crisis, many business owners have faced unprecedented difficulty. Some businesses have been forced to shut their doors altogether as they wait for the pandemic to run its course and restrictions to lift. Others have shifted their business models dramatically in response to social distancing measures and requirements. Not only that, many businesses are well aware that the new ‘normal’ may never look like it did prior to the pandemic.
Advertising during these times remains critical for your business. You want to stay top of mind for your customers, not only to bring them to your business during the pandemic if possible, but also to keep them thinking of you and help you resume normal business practices when the pandemic comes to an end. Equally importantly, however, is managing your business’s reputation in light of the current crisis. During times of crisis, a business’s reputation can be easily damaged–and your marketing must take this into account.
1. Make sure you’re showing empathy for the current situation.
Many of your customers are facing substantial impact as a result of the coronavirus. Some are out of work. Others are struggling with anxiety and fears related to the virus. Still others may have been infected or have a loved one currently fighting off the virus. Your advertising needs to show empathy for your customers’ situation. As the crisis continues, you may want to focus your efforts on supporting your community, not on bringing in sales.
2. Inform your customers about the changes you’re making to your business.
Your customers need to know what changes you’ve made to your business in light of the pandemic: different hours, changed services, or cleaning or protective measures designed to help keep customers safe, for example. Create a marketing plan that highlights those changes and keeps customers informed about everything you’re doing.
3. Get creative concerning what you can offer.
What services, products, and support can you continue to offer your customers in light of the pandemic? How can you continue to provide them with the high quality of service they expect from your business while still keeping their health and safety, and that of your employees, under consideration? You may offer curbside pickup or provide delivery options, even if that’s not something your business has ever offered in the past. You may also get creative about the products and services you provide to fit your customers’ needs during the pandemic. For example, many facilities have shifted to the production of masks, hand sanitizer, or personal protective equipment in order to meet the needs of the community.
4. Pause marketing campaigns that aren’t relevant to the current times.
Take a look at your current advertising campaigns, including the ones you had scheduled before this crisis began. You may need to repurpose your ad content or shift the content that you’re offering in light of the pandemic. For example, you may want to stay away from advertisements showcasing large crowds of people, people touching excessively, or images of people who are ill. Pause marketing campaigns that do not reflect the current situation.
5. Avoid any strategies that appear to attempt to capitalize on the pandemic.
Some businesses, and in fact some markets, are thriving in the midst of the pandemic. During this time, however, people are incredibly sensitive to the content of your message. You want to provide the goods and services your customers need without appearing to brag or set yourself above others, either in your industry or in others. Showcase what you’re doing to help in a positive way, rather than cheering your own contributions or trying to turn your business into a cornavirus ‘hero.’
Your brand image is incredibly important to your business as a whole. A decrease in brand image during this time could prove disastrous to your business, both in the midst of the pandemic and when things start to return to normal. By taking careful steps to shift your marketing and continue marketing responsibly in the midst of the pandemic, however, you can create effective messaging that will support your community and ultimately benefit your business.