On the cusp of a worldwide pandemic, the recent COVID-19 outbreak is striking fear in the hearts of people everywhere. Even though the virus is still being studied, we know for sure that people’s health, the livelihoods of many, and our national and global economy is being affected.
Many business owners are now asking the big question: “How can my company survive the coronavirus crisis? How should I now market to consumers?”
Unfortunately, no brand is immune to the impact of coronavirus on the economy. That being said, there are plenty of techniques that companies can start employing immediately to minimize the repercussions of the current global crisis.
Here are five ways your brand can outlast the coronavirus crisis:
1. Stay Relevant with Digital Content
A big reason why businesses are seeing a sharp decline is because many consumers are undergoing a self-imposed quarantine. People are avoiding large crowds and populated areas in general, and are opting to stay inside instead. While this may initially slow down sales, there are ways to still interact with consumers and encourage future purchases.
Humans are social creatures, so when we spend less time socializing in the real world, we turn to the next best thing: the internet. Although your regular customers may not be making purchases, they will be consuming a ton of content online.
In general, social media posts, blogs, videos, and any other form of digital content has a much higher chance of reaching both potential and existing customers. This is your chance to promote your brand and its products or services. Your customers are glued to their phones, so there’s higher visibility for your content AND more opportunity for interaction with users via ‘comments,’ ‘likes,’ and ‘shares.’
A periodic decline in sales is inevitable at this point, but it’s still possible to mitigate the economic damage to your business and prepare for the resurgence of sales when regular consumer habits return to normal. Give your customers the content they seek now, and they’ll remember your brand down the line.
2. Don’t Dissuade Consumers with Bad Ads
Sensitivity is important whenever there’s a major crisis. Navigating coronavirus-related messaging is not an exception to the rule. Whatever your thoughts may be on the severity of the outbreak, it’s true that COVID-19 has already taken lives, and may continue to in the weeks to come. Because of this reality, making light of the situation may cast your brand in a poor light.
In today’s culture, prioritizing sensitivity isn’t just a recommendation – it’s essential for your company’s image. This is a good time to perform a health check on your current and planned ads.
Here are some loose do’s and don’ts of advertising during the Coronavirus crisis:
- Ensure that all ads are sensitive to the current crisis.
- Review ads so that they aren’t placed near inappropriate or conflicting content.
- Evaluate the ad’s targeted locations. Be sure to run ads in areas where your product or service will be helpful. Depending on your service type, you may want to target locations that are not as affected by the virus.
- Run irreverent ads relating to the coronavirus crisis.
- Publish misinformation about your company’s safety and health policies.
- Alienate customers with images of crowded environments, people in close proximity, or anything that could be interpreted as increasing the risk of contamination.
In short, keep your advertisements ethical and appropriate for the current climate. Be transparent about steps that your company is taking to mitigate risks for employees and customers.
Most importantly, remember your customer’s current state of mind, and be aware of that during your advertising efforts.
3. Emphasize E-Commerce Strengths and Abilities
Businesses with e-commerce capabilities should emphasize their strengths as much as possible.
Many consumers are self-quarantining, but that doesn’t mean that they’re no longer buying products. Instead, they’re more interested in online delivery services. While this poses its own challenges, it’s also a great opportunity to push your e-commerce and delivery capabilities to maintain steady revenue.
In your social media posts and advertisements, highlight your company’s ability to continue providing its services via delivery. If possible, emphasize speedy distribution times or free shipping, even if it’s something that’s already being offered.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is the supply chain and how it affects your inventory and delivery services. Some professionals recommend focusing on e-commerce advertisements for existing (rather than potential) customers. New patrons may be dismayed if stock is low or if shipping services aren’t as speedy as usual, whereas returning customers are already well-versed in your company’s normal standards of service.
Since acquiring new stock may be difficult due to the repercussions of the coronavirus, be sure to prioritize transparency about the availability of items. Sometimes, “limited availability!” and “only a few left!” messaging will let your customers know that inventory is low and items may not be available for a while.
4. Manage Public Relations
There may be complications as your business transitions to a digital environment – that’s a given with any big operation-wide change. Again, transparency is key. Be upfront about technical issues and about the changes that your company is making in order to adapt to the current situation. Customers understand delays because of new technology or increased safety measures, but they are less forgiving of delays without any explanation.
When it comes to the coronavirus crisis, an honest approach is best. Promising that there’s no risk associated with upcoming events, or stretching the truth about existing company protocols will not do the company (or your customers!) any favors. Instead, provide factual information about the situation and what the company is doing to mitigate any dangers.
Pay attention to changing local and/or federal coronavirus-related regulations. For situations such as determining whether a large event should be permitted to continue, or whether company employees should begin a new work-from-home routine, it’s best to comply with the recommendations of the local officials. Always cite legal recommendations as the basis for the procedures in place!
5. Maintain Team Unity and Culture
One of the biggest ways that brands are affected internally is that many teams are now working remotely. Management and operations teams that aren’t accustomed to this dynamic might have difficulty staying on the same page. Some teams also have a hard time keeping track of all of the new measures put in place to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
Whether working from home or just keeping in-person meetings at a minimum, here are some ways that you can virtually manage your teams, synchronize the company and maintain a cohesive brand:
- Virtual chat rooms: Today’s technology has created apps that far surpass AIM chat. Apps like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Discord allow the team to communicate and collaborate, without the hassle of setting up a virtual meeting.
- Project management apps: Without access to sticky notes and whiteboards, project management apps like Asana, Trello and Quire are great substitutes. You can see each team member’s progress on each project, and be reminded of deadlines, too.
- File-sharing: The team can collaborate on presentations, documents and other projects without the back-and-forth emails asking for updated versions. Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive ensure that projects won’t be stalled waiting on one document.
Even though close physical contact might be discouraged for the time being, your business (and your team) can stay on track. With operations still running smoothly, your company’s reputation and brand will remain intact, keeping your customers feeling reassured and confident.
The Coronavirus Crisis And Your Company
There’s no doubt that most businesses will be affected by the Coronavirus crisis. The impact will vary between companies, ranging from a drop in sales or an adjustment period while teams transition to working remotely. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the damage – and possibly even position your brand as one that reacts and leads well in times of crisis.
The most important takeaway is that it’s best to be proactive in situations like this. Don’t wait until you start feeling the effects of the current climate to begin implementing the above steps.
Worried that your brand will be adversely affected by the current crisis? Don’t wait too long to get a second opinion. Book a meeting with us today, and we’ll help you find the best way to move forward.