Marketing in an emergency: Dos and don’ts to weather a crisis
In a crisis, especially one as far-reaching as the current COVID-19 pandemic, it can be difficult to know how to react. All the plans you’ve worked so hard to implement might seem ineffective, or worse, counterproductive. Just like individuals, businesses might be tempted to halt all activity to save resources and wait things out. But even though it may be counter-intuitive, now’s not the time to cut your marketing budget. In fact, in a crisis, marketing is more important than ever and your continued viability could depend on your ability to adjust—not abandon—your strategy. Here are four dos and don’ts to keep you on track for effective and appropriate crisis communications.
1. Do adjust your tactics
There’s a lot of uncertainty around COVID-19 and the longer-term effects on the economy and your business. Instead of reacting by cutting your marketing budget—a mistake, as it paralyzes lead generation and detracts from the customer experience you are creating—look at ways to adjust your tactics for the current market climate. Customers have new anxieties and buying considerations but they still need products and services (be it now or in the coming months). Consider the purchasing horizon extended and keep generating and nurturing your leads. If you’re not, you can be sure your competitors are.
Marketing also has a role to play in modifying how you deliver to clients. When one of our clients recently closed their showroom, we helped them to devise an alternative: we’re delivering a box of cleaned product samples to buyers. Who knows—when things return to normal, we may continue with some of the new tactics we’re rolled out.
2. Adjust your business development practices
It’s possible buyers are putting the brakes on purchasing decisions, but others are still in full swing and buying per usual. By now, you likely have a sense of your new reality. If you’ve found that buyers are tentative, at this point, your job is to offer guidance while steering away from direct sales tactics. Many of our clients are finding that buyers are receptive to phone or video meetings, and are more responsive than usual to friendly check-ins.
3. Don’t be tone deaf
Open communication is important but a change of tenor is in order. Don’t continue marketing like nothing is happening. Corporate communication to customers should be clear, honest and sensitive to their concerns. Acknowledge the change in status quo and make sure your messaging accounts for people’s fears. Let your contacts know what measures you’re taking to provide them with support should they need it, keep product/service available, and ensure customer and employee safety. Consider sharing some of these updates on your social media profile too.
4. Cement your reputation through tone
More than ever, you have the opportunity to cement your good reputation with customers through marketing. Take this time to establish yourself as a knowledgeable, sensitive, and considered partner. Find the right tone and stick with it.