Marketing Advice for the New Normal: Spread Joy, Not Germs
As COVID-19 spreads and the world changes a little more each day, making marketing decisions can be difficult, to say the least. Uncertainty about next steps—both as humans and as marketers—is rampant. But during this time of adversity, brands can innovate, foster growth and help heal the community.
Here’s how to get started.
Watch for opportunities. Don’t be opportunistic.
The world has changed drastically in a short amount of time. New normals mean new options for connecting with your audience and trying to increase—or just maintain—your customer base.
But be wary—there’s fine line between seizing opportunities and being opportunistic.
Ask yourself (and talk to your team to get their thoughts) how your actions might come off to your clients and customers. Ask questions like “Could this be seen as inappropriate for our current situation?” “Will we alienate our audiences by saying/doing this?” and “Does this shamelessly profit off of others’ suffering?” There are definitely ways companies can benefit during a crisis. Just make sure your decisions are made with ethics and morals in mind.
Give them something (else) to think about.
Some brands are choosing to go dark during this time. Talk of coronavirus is everywhere, and many businesses that don’t directly relate to the issue feel like they should change their communication strategy to Do Not Disturb.
But people are anxious, and brands who can help disrupt that feeling of anxiety will be all the more appreciated for it.
Reevaluating your messaging (as well as where it’s being shared and to whom) is smart. But that doesn’t mean you need to stay quiet and cancel all content. Think of ways your brand can continue providing value to your audience, through advice, reassurance or even good ol’ entertainment. You might make some immediate sales from it, you might not—but your brand love will benefit in the long run.
Be smart about your budget.
In theory it makes sense to buckle down and cut expenses during a global crisis or recession. And in some areas of your budget, that’s smart. But maintaining your marketing budget can help your brand during a rough season.
It’s important to stay in front of your customers and keep your brand top of mind. Like the saying goes, “When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise.”
Other brands—your competitors—will likely be stepping out of advertising spaces to save money. That means lower costs for things like PPC ads on Google and social media platforms. This is one of those opportunities we mentioned earlier, an opportunity for your business to show that you’re a resilient and dependable option for consumers to trust and flock to.
A port Pizza Hut in the storm, if you will.
Yep—take this example from the recession in the early 90s. McDonald’s cut their advertising, and Pizza Hut and Taco Bell took advantage. The result? McDonald’s saw their sales drop by almost a third, while both Pizza Hut and Taco Bell saw sales markedly increase.
If you do need to slash your marketing budget, there are plenty of free marketing tactics you can still implement that cost nothing but some time and energy.
Dream for the future.
If business is down, or looks like it’s headed that way, now is the time to think about the future. How can your brand end up on the other side of this pandemic better than ever before?
We’ve all heard that “Necessity is the mother of invention.” New necessities are popping up every day. It’s time to innovate.
Brands across the world are coming up with new ways to serve their customers, through digital channels, drive-thru and delivery services, and brand new tactics that have never been done before. Reconsider what new pain points your target audience has, and brainstorm new ways to address those pain points.
It might be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now, but eventually this will be over. Do you have a list of rainy day to-dos? Think of this time as the rainy season. Write the gated content. Develop the landing pages. Build the drip campaigns. Tackle all of those projects you’ve been meaning to do so they’re ready for launch when the crisis is over.
And finally: spread joy, not germs.
This one goes for everyone, but especially marketers. It’s time to infuse good emotions into your marketing. Consider adding some (appropriate) humor to your social posts. Include some optimism in your emails. Be kind to others not to help your business, but to help the world. We will get through this eventually, and if we focus on spreading joy where we can, it might feel sooner than later.