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marketing during covid-19

Marketing during Covid-19: What you need to know

Posted by Sean Millette on 23 March, 2020

COVID-19 has been wreaking havoc across the globe, with countless people practicing “social distancing” and staying home as much as possible. While we are not yet in a position to predict the full economic consequences of this global pandemic, we know the effects of the virus and the drastic measures undertaken to prevent it from spreading are heavily impacting industries worldwide.

Where possible, most companies across Canada have implemented a work from home policy. We have also seen an increase of people on sick leave and/or unable to work in order to care for a loved one. The overwhelming impact of the stay at home movement is that people are spending more time online. You may think that if people stay at home the organic traffic will grow. And you’re right! But only when it comes to the news industry or financial space. For most businesses, web traffic has gone down. People are investing their time reading clickbait news about coronavirus instead of, for example, learning a skill online, reading about business, or planning trips and as a result, organic traffic is down in most industries.

To say that this is a unique time is an understatement. There is no playbook for times like this, but businesses, we need to know how to properly address this issue within our individual objectives and how to navigate our communications strategies.

Here are some basic guidelines.

Work from home whenever possible

It should go without saying. You and your family’s health is what matters. Nothing else is even remotely as important as the wellbeing of those you love. This includes your family, your friends…and your work family as well. Look, the sooner we all practice social distancing, the sooner we’ll get this virus under control and the sooner we’ll get back to business as usual. There are no shortcuts and it’s not easy. There are a lot of essential workers keeping us alive by providing food and groceries, medicine, services. If you can stay home, do you part and STAY HOME!

Stay relevant to your audience

With everyone panicking, this is not time to be selling. Businesses are using a softer tone, a more considerate approach to their messaging. Look for ways to address the needs and concerns of your audience. Outline the steps your business is taking to ensure the health and safety of your employees, and of your clients. For example, perhaps you’re taking orders online or over the phone, and offering curbside service.

Though the pandemic is global, its impact is local. This is essential thinking in the evaluation of your marketing campaign. As such, ask yourself, what type of news content are you comfortable associating your brand alongside to? Of course, context is always key, but you have the opportunity to become a resource for positivity in your community. Help promote local restaurants who are offering delivery services, or local grocers who are going above and beyond to help the neighbourhood. Promote the positive stories from within your market. In a time where we’re inundated with updates about the virus, your audience will appreciate the context and will look to you as a resource.

Additionally, tone, visual imagery, copy, and keywords all need to be carefully assessed. You may want to hold on some of the funnier slapstick humour campaigns, and perhaps re-evaluate creative that shows personal interactions like handshakes and high fives since social distancing is an important tactic in slowing the spread of the virus. You need to pay careful consideration to your messaging and the pulse of the local marketplace.

And if you follow the news cycle, you already know that things are changing daily. To properly navigate through this uncertainty, you’ll need to constantly evaluate and adjust your priorities.

Optimize your digital strategies

As of right now, in-person events and conferences are off-limits, and we are likely to remain in a state of social distancing for several more weeks. The unprecedented, almost-total disappearance of all channels related to live events and conferences, and the increasing barriers on face-to-face business, pose an enormous challenge.

Being confined to the office, or at home, rather than on sales calls or at events, means that marketers have more time to develop their digital strategies. By researching and understanding where your customers can be found online, you can develop an approach and strategies to deliver your message to them at the right time and place. This could be as simple as giving your website and social pages an update, or a more innovative, targeted, digital campaign.

Furthermore, look for online tools that can help you support your B2B marketing strategies. Consider hosting webinars that your audience can log into from the comfort of their living rooms. Create live videos through Facebook, Twitter or on Instagram and take time to produce regular videos that will benefit your strategy, even after the pandemic dissipates.

A well thought out approach to your digital strategy will not only serve as an emergency fill-in to your marketing endeavours but will carry on providing long-term value to your business once the world gets back to normal.

The Coronavirus will be gone sooner or later. As we proceed with our marketing endeavours over the next few weeks and months, we need to be prepared for what’s coming afterwards. Our economy will have changed, the way we do business will be different, and it will take some time to adjust and to rebuild consumer confidence in the marketplace. Those who take time to remain relevant, to become a resource, and to prepare for what’s next have the best shot of coming out of this with some momentum.

In the meantime, add some perspective to your business endeavours. Yes, we all have the financial concerns tied to the duration of the lockdown, and there’s no doubt that a lengthy closure of non-essential businesses will have an ill effect on our economy and our pocketbooks. But at the same time, we have the opportunity, on a personal level, to reconnect with our loved ones, be it movie nights on the couch with the kids, or FaceTiming friends and family that we may not connect with as often as we would like to. With nothing on our social calendar, it should be easy to take a step back and build relationships. We may never get to spend this much time with our loved ones ever again, take some time to appreciate the break.

But for now, stay home, stay safe, and stay healthy.