Governments and public health officials are communicating with us daily–even hourly–during the coronavirus epidemic.
Should we, as marketers, brand managers, business owners stop communicating with our customers, patients and clients?
Absolutely not. While these are uncertain times for everyone, stopping or just pausing your messaging is the worst possible response. If you do not address the current crisis and the implications to your audience, they will look for answers wherever they can find them . . . and the conversation will continue without you.
No matter who your audience is, they will expect to hear a proactive response from you. They’ll want to hear the basics:
- What are you doing to keep your employees and those who come into contact with your organization safe?
- What impact has the epidemic had on your operations? How will that effect your customers, clients and/or patients?
- How will you communicate changes to your audience going forward?
This is an obligation–and an opportunity–as a business owner.
Now is the time to make strategic adjustments to your messaging: engage in a conversation, offer help, provide timely and relevant information.
The bottom line: be non-transactional. Don’t ask for anything, an email, a review, not even a “Like.”
This will keep the lines of communication open, build trust and help your business stay top of mind. Indeed, after this passes–and it will pass–you will be continuing a conversation, not trying to start one.
As you maneuver through the unknown, remain empathetic and sensitive to the world’s concerns. That includes carefully reviewing social media posts and how they might be perceived during the pandemic.
Mercedes-Benz notes that “the safety systems of our vehicles can’t protect family and friends from the current health situation. To #flattenthecurve, we need to do more. Try to stay at home.
Burger King has changed its tagline from “HOME OF THE WHOPPER” to “STAY HOME OF THE WHOPPER.”
Sadly, Corona beer has its own challenges during this crisis.
Here are several to-do’s you should consider in the next few days, or sooner:
- Review your website and update all pages with the most current information that your audience requires (closings, limited hours, 24/7 contact numbers, separate entrances, shipping availability, etc.).
We’ve seen restaurant websites that offer to-go meals during the mandatory shut-down, however the website still promotes dine-in reservations.
One retail website lists all of their canceled and postponed events. Just below the cancellations is a callout promoting onsite parties.
Another business is literally closed, yet its website and Facebook make no mention.
Adding a pop-up to your website that addresses relevant information and FAQs will make it much easier for your visitors.
- Make sure your content is well-optimized for search. Remember, SEO is a long-term strategy. What you do today with SEO will affect your organic search traffic two, three, six months from now. On the other hand, pausing your SEO campaign now could have an adverse impact on your visitor traffic when the coronavirus falls off our radar.
- Update your Google My Business page with the most accurate, up-to-date information.
- Where appropriate, look for community and state websites to add your listing. There are directories for social services, restaurants, retail stores, etc. where your business or organization should be included and linked.
- Launch engaging–and frequent– email marketing campaigns.
- Consider a Facebook or email survey. People are online, hungry for interaction; we have never craved conversation and connection more. Open rates and click-thru rates are at an all-time high, so there is an opportunity to collect some information, like “Where are you getting your coronavirus news and updates?” Then share the information with everyone: social, website and email list.
- Use video marketing to stand out in customers’ crowded newsfeed. We’ve said it before, YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google, and Google owns YouTube.
- Find alternatives to live events:
- Host a virtual business open house with Facebook Live
- Repurpose the workshop or product introduction as a webinar
- Video your media / press briefings, preferably using the CEO as a spokesperson
- Contact your media representatives and local influencers to help with distribution of your messaging.
If at all possible, don’t take this on yourself. Form a coronavirus communications team to determine your messaging, disseminate communications and handle requests. Remember, the questions can also come from employees, the media, your vendors or your neighbors.
Here at BTA, we are always measuring for effectiveness. Your marketing efforts during this outbreak need to be purposeful. Establish a budget, put a plan into place that includes how and where you will communicate, who you will target and how you will measure success.
Remember, this is a time to really show empathy to others and help out where you can. You have the opportunity to show support for your community, your customers and friends by providing discounts, proceeds, supplies or physical support. Look for ways to partner with another business or organization and double the impact.
If you have questions about how your business can survive Coronavirus, please reach out to us. If you have ideas to add to this blog, again reach out and we’ll do our best to share them.
As business owners, let’s use marketing to boost our immunity where we can and survive this epidemic.
BlaineTurner Advertising Clients
Under the West Virginia Governor’s “stay home” order issued March 23, BTA employees will be working from home beginning March 24. However, you can rest assured that services and production from us will remain the same. We will proactively communicate any changes in operations to our clients and in-person meetings will be held via video conference.
We are a business that relies on collaboration and teamwork. Whether we are 6 feet or 6 miles apart, we are driven and committed to helping every one of our clients, as well as businesses and organizations in our community, thrive during this epidemic.
CFO / Vice President