The coronavirus pandemic has rocked the U.S. economy, with 51.4% of businesses reporting having been negatively impacted and indicating they expect it will take more than six months for their businesses to return to normal.
So, the big question becomes: how do businesses move forward? Is it possible for them to grow, let alone sustain, amid this unprecedented challenge? If so, how?
The short answer is yes. Because in the face of reduced sales and diminished cash flows,their survival relies on maintaining their existing contacts and securing new business.
But they’ll have to do it carefully. Here are the key do’s and don’ts of marketing in a pandemic.
4 Things You Need to Do to Market Your Business During the Pandemic
One day, students will study how today’s businesses sustained during an unexpected pandemic. But for now, it’s up to businesses to decide how to navigate it all.
While every sector will require a unique approach to marketing, there are some must-do things that apply to almost every industry.
DO: Take Time to Enhance Your Online Presence
As varying degrees of lockdown were implemented across the country, internet hits surged by between 50% and 70%, according to preliminary statistics.
What this shows is that people are spending a lot more time online than they were pre-COVID, presenting an opportunity for businesses to capitalize.
This could include:
- Optimizing your business website for mobile
- Creating valuable content (more to come on this)
- Doing some SEO research and finding ways to incorporate it into your website to gain even more visibility
- Getting proactive with your marketing by participating in online communities and forums
- Improving your website’s user experience by doing research on what your customers want and addressing it more directly as well as making your website more concise and easier to navigate
DO: Communicate Proactively
What your customers need right now is to be nurtured and reassured. Let them know that you’re here for them and that you’re not going away. You can also take the opportunity to show them that you’re sensitive and empathetic to what they’re going through.
Whether it’s email campaigns or blog posts, make sure your communications:
- Acknowledge the pandemic and its impact on their lives
- Keep your customers updated and informed of any changes the pandemic might’ve caused for your business and how it impacts them
- Assure them that they can count on receiving continued quality and outstanding service in working with you, despite the pandemic
If you go radio silent, it’ll only help contribute to your customers’ sense of uncertainty and there’s a good chance that some of them will opt to purchase from your competitors who are still communicating with them.
DO: Review Your Automated Marketing Efforts
One consistent theme throughout all of your marketing efforts should be sensitivity.
So, if you have any automated marketing initiatives, like email messages and ad campaigns, make sure to review them and ensure they convey a sensitive and empathetic tone.
For example, you might want to tweak these efforts to be more focused on people than profits by addressing the challenges your customers are facing and how you can help them rather than being pushy in promoting products or trying to make sales.
DO: Give Your Social Media Presence Some Extra Attention
Social media is the new consumer marketplace — and one of today’s primary marketing channels. Believe it or not, 79% of Americans have social media profiles and, as people spend more time online during the pandemic, this number is increasing. And what’s more, 54% of social browsers use social media to research products and services.
So, whether you have no social media presence and you want to create one or you have a good social media presence and you want to make it great, now is the time to invest heavily into it.
The key is to be active and present. You can:
- Start or join conversations
- Utilize sponsored posts or paid advertisements
- Post more frequently
- Have an online contest
- Keep your customers in the loop with updates
- Promote special or limited-time offerings
The best part is that social media doesn’t have to be expensive, as long as you’re willing to invest the time and effort into creating quality content.
4 Things You Absolutely Must Avoid When Marketing Yourself During COVID-19
Just as important as the things you need to do to market yourself in the midst of this pandemic are the things you absolutely must avoid.
DON’T: Cut Off Content Creation
Creating content that’s both helpful and valuable to your customers is massively important, especially right now.
This can be done in the form of blog posts, webinars, and newsletters among many others. The key is to identify specific pain points that your customers are experiencing and then addressing them directly with solutions-oriented content.
You can find useful information on what your customers want to learn about when you cruise through forums and communities we mentioned earlier.
While this might seem like a good place to cut costs, the stats would state otherwise. Early reports indicated that marketers expected to see a 57% increase in blog content production during the pandemic and that 87% of consumers appreciate brands that go out of their way to deliver timely and relevant information during the coronavirus pandemic.
DON’T: Forego Networking Efforts
Networking might seem incredibly challenging given the fact that large gatherings are, in large part, off the table for the foreseeable future.
But on the contrary, building your network is more important now than ever.
This can be done by:
- Checking in regularly: One of the big misconceptions about networking is that every engagement needs to be tied to a tangible business outcome. It doesn’t. Sometimes you can just say hello, ask what’s new, and see how they’re holding up through the crisis. Relationship building is important, and it doesn’t always have to be profitable.
- Attending virtual networking events: While you might not be able to gather in person, there are still ample opportunities for virtual networking. Just search through platforms like LinkedIn or MeetUp to find relevant virtual networking events.
- Offering value: Rather than a cold and useless outreach, do your research. Find something that might bring value to the person you’re reaching out to. For example, don’t just say you’re hoping to find new business opportunities. Instead, share a relevant article (preferably one you wrote) that you thought they’d be interested in and let them know you’d like to catch up if they’ve got any time.
- Being part of a professional community: Being part of a professional community in a safe environment like Co-Balt Workspace is a great way to stay connected with like-minded professionals during the pandemic. To learn more about our community or to book a tour of our space, get in touch with us today.
DON’T: Use Insensitive Imagery or Language
This may seem small, but it’s important to tweak the language and imagery you use in your content, ads, and all other external communications.
For example, if you’re posting a blog or social media post, avoid including images of people in large groups.
It doesn’t take much to give people a bad impression, and that can be hard to recover from.
DON’T: Try to Capitalize on the Crisis
While this is applicable to any tragedy or crisis, it’s important that you consider the current climate in your marketing efforts.
Remember, sensitivity is key during times like these. So, keep your customers informed of how the pandemic is impacting your business but don’t spread panic. And absolutely do not try to use the crisis as a tool for driving sales.
While it might feel like this pandemic will never end, the reality is that it will eventually. And the steps you take to market yourself right now will help set you up for success both in the immediate term as well as when the pandemic is behind us.
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