Marketing during COVID-19 (Part 1)

Marketing during COVID-19

Marketing during a global pandemic and under circumstances we’ve never had the need to adjust to before, is a challenge. We’ve had to, very quickly, adjust physically and mentally in our personal and our professional lives to varying degrees. We are each having to deal with various issues – that could be homeschooling, separation from family – even being stuck abroad or not being able to trade as you normally would.

So, you might be thinking – how can I market my business when things aren’t running normally? Should I even try to market my business?

We say the answer is yes, and the following outlines how you might go about continuing to market your business right now.

A few weeks ago, I was a guest speaker on The Thrive Effect run by Clare Griffiths who asked me to talk about business marketing during COVID-19. This is what I talked about, in a nutshell, with some more recent additions because, as we all know, things are changing quickly. This post will cover the first part and next time, we will share the rest of it.

You must adapt to your customers’ changing needs

It may be time to get personal. I don’t mean you have to start talking about your personal life, although I’ve noticed our clients sharing more personal information about themselves, which is quite nice actually as I’m a real people person and love learning new things about our clients.

Give your personal attention to your customers and clients. Show your love for them by reaching out to them and check how they are doing. A few of our clients needed help with their websites but are waiting for funds or grant money. So, talking to them about what they need and how we can help them right now is really important.

Changes are happening quickly, almost on a daily basis, those changes might be physical in that their shops and offices have closed – or they could be dealing with changes that are affecting them emotionally and mentally. They might be anxious, scared, angry or feeling desperate. They might be fine with it all or have even welcomed the changes. So, find out what they need, where they are at, how they are feeling and what you can do to help them.

Make sure that in addition to talking with your clients, you increase your comms where appropriate, too. Tools such as Bing Places have a dedicated profile spot for a COVID-19 message. There is a similar section on Google My Business. Be mindful that the location of your target audience may be changed, either temporarily or even longer term because you might not be able to serve customers in the same way.

It’s always important to be customer-centric but now is especially important. So, keep your communication with them going. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t assume they are going to struggle financially – they might not be. Don’t assume they are fine because of the sector they work in, for example. They may be facing challenges in other ways.

Now is also the time for empathy as well – people will react differently. Just because you might be feeling a certain way, that doesn’t mean that others will share that same state of mind. And that state of mind might be different tomorrow! A lot of people are talking about being resilient during this time. That’s great and I agree, resilience will help. But some people might not be as resilient as others. Some might be dealing with losses or the stress of caring for others – there are so many possibilities here. So, being empathetic in your marketing is really important.

Here are a couple of examples of local companies who are reaching out, being customer-centric, showing empathy and that they care.

always possible are customer centric in their marketing Carpenter Box are helpful to their customers during COVID-19

Carpenter Box also ran a webinar to help business owners understand how new Government financial help could apply to them and how to go about getting that help.

The digital space is very busy right now, how can you cut through all of the noise?

Speak directly to your target audience through your tailored messaging. If you’re not sure who your target audience is, then perhaps this would be a good time to work on that. You could work on honing your customer avatar – who is your ideal customer – how old they are, where they live, what they do, where they hang out? If you know who your ideal customers are then ensure that your messaging says something like “I (or we) know what your pain points are and we can help solve them”, for example. When you talk directly to your audience you don’t need to worry about being heard and seen by everyone.

Strengthen your brand visually. Make sure your brand stands out by looking great and being visually consistent as well. Do you have a logo that you use regularly? Do you have design assets such as social media graphics or a brand colour scheme that you can utilise better? Re-visit your brand guidelines to ensure you’re staying on track and on brand. This might be a good time to up your game when it comes to how you look and sound. Just like with your target audience, if you don’t have a strong brand with consistent visual communication then you could spend some time working on that – creating graphics and visuals or work on your brand messaging.

Create content that helps first. It doesn’t matter how big or small this is. It doesn’t mean you need to change your website homepage completely or offer everything for free. It might mean sharing helpful tips that you’ve tried and can recommend from your personal experience with it. Perhaps there’s a need for a helpful checklist for your clients because you’re in a niche sector for example. Similar to what we saw with Carpenter Box, but it doesn’t need to be a webinar, it could simply be a bullet point list followed by a call to action. You might find that you’re creating new products and services as a way of adapting or pivoting. That’s fine, just make sure that you are staying true to your business purpose.

Here are some great examples:

Good examples of stand out visual communication
The Frugality – this is a lifestyle blog so pretty much everything she does is online, although she recently started doing in-person talks. This demonstrates a strong and consistent brand visually. She talks directly to her audience and ensures her brand shows through at all times.

Brighton Gin – they are doing a lot of positive things, but here it’s a great example of strong visual branding and consistency in their communication. You can see by the tweet, pictured above, that they have ambassadors who champion their brand and what they are doing.

Wired Sussex – great example of a strong visual brand. They create social media graphics for their sponsors, supporters and collaborators to use to post about them which of course they can re-tweet/re-share too. They also create helpful content for their membership as well, sharing information, participating in webinars and arranging online events.

If you are the brand, then take a look at Simon Sinek – he’s an amazing person to look at anyways, I recommend his TED talk and book ‘Start With Why’ if you haven’t seen it before – he’s also an author and influential leader. He uses the motif from his logo, his brand colours and his message is consistent.

How are you marketing your business now? Can you share something in the comments?

Next time, I’ll be talking about strategy now and for the future. Get it directly into your mailbox by joining our list.

Meg Fenn, Director of Shake It Up Creative