Assess. Adapt. Connect. Marketing Amidst the Coronavirus
There are a variety of marketing tactics for businesses to promote their products and services. But in the wake of coronavirus, we believe there are two that are more relevant than ever.
Two of the biggest trends we’re seeing in marketing right now is a renewed focus on content and digital marketing. Content marketing is the act of building and sharing valuable content as a way to engage audiences. Digital marketing is the use of online platforms and channels to promote products and services.
Why focus on these two? Content marketing taps into the very essence of branding, which is to connect with people. We need connection now more than ever. Just because brands have a bottom line doesn’t mean they can be a source of inspiration, comfort, or value. Content allows brands to build and maintain relationships with their dedicated followers. And with people quarantined to their homes, digital marketing is a given. It’s the most reliable channel to reach your audiences right now.
Create a Content Calendar for Coronavirus-Related Content
With the coronavirus shaking up business operations, organizations are suddenly having to break their normal stream of content to publish important updates. There might be a million things your organization needs to say, or the cat might have your tongue. In either case, navigating what to say and then saying it consistently is a lot easier if you develop a content strategy.
Content strategies can be as simple or complex as your organization needs them to be. But they all answer these questions:
- What do you need to communicate right now? What are the most important messages we need to prioritize?
- Where and when do you plan on sharing your content? For each of your channels, how frequently do you plan on sharing content?
- Who is responsible for developing, approving, or publishing content?
- How effective is our content? Do we need to adjust our messaging?
We know that during times of crisis, brands that communicate early, often, and directly with customers are better able to maintain trust with their audiences and the general public. A coronavirus-related content strategy can keep your messaging organized, clear, and consistent.
Offer Connected Audiences Timely, Relevant Content
Of course, your organization needs to communicate business or operations updates to your connected audience (i.e. the people who are loyal to your brand, or at very least, have purchased something from you before). But your content can be more than strictly business.
All brands have an opportunity to use the content as a way to really help and support loyal customers and connected audiences.
- Heartland Payroll is offering its customers access to a free webinar that will address human resource questions and best practices amid COVID-19.
- LinkedIn is offering free online courses to help workers adapt and adjust to working from home.
- The New York Times has developed a robust FAQ page to help readers navigate not just health, but also money, daily life, politics, science, and travel in the wake of coronavirus.
- The consulting firm McKinsey & Company is publicly sharing results from a recent consumer survey to help business understand changing consumer expectations and behaviors throughout the coronavirus crisis.
Brands that use content to empower customers prove that they are more than a corporation. They’re a team of people with ethics and beliefs. This is a unique time to show your true company colors. Flexing your values will have a lasting impact, considering that 89% of consumers are loyal to a brand that shares their values.
Explore Creative Ways to Connect
Another way to show the humanness of your brand is to use your content as a vehicle of kindness, inspiration, and comfort.
- Although the Metropolitan Opera canceled its 2019-20 season, the organization felt the world needed music to brighten a dark and difficult time. The company is live streaming full-length performances that it has recorded over the years.
- On Instagram, audiences can watch the Shedd Aquarium penguins explore all the other exhibits for the first time. The mini-series offers some comic relief and is another way audiences can connect and learn about the animals, even while at home.
- The team at Decocrated has launched a new daily series, Coffee Break with Decocrated, where their team goes live on Facebook everyday to share decorating tips, organizing tricks, and giveaways with customers.
In the face of social distancing, it feels like the whole world is trying to adapt to a new environment. Through these creative and unconventional content opportunities, brands are helping people still feel connected to each other and the community.
Move Services Online (If You Can)
This tip is obvious, but there are some organizations who’ve never utilized an online platform to sell or deliver services. Even if you aren’t set up to operate as an online store, an online presence can complement your existing business model and temporarily help keep orders flowing.
Contact your marketing agency or web developer to set up the right web features to get your business online.
Some options include:
- Integrate an eCommerce platform onto your site
- Update the layout of your homepage to direct users to new online services
- Create gated content accessible to only to customers
- Integrate your email with your website to deliver purchased content
- Build new landing pages or a video library
- Create pop-ups or fly-ins to direct traffic to a new page
- Integrate an online calendar for booking and scheduling
- Generate more robust contact forms to better direct customers
After the Charlotte YMCA closed its facilities, it launched its Virtual Y where members can access YMCA classes and resources online. When you visit the YMCA’s website, you’ll notice their homepage layout has been redesigned to better direct traffic to their available services. Another great example is SkillPop. Within only a few days, the company launched SkillPop Anywhere, a website where audiences can access the same fun classes but online.
Businesses can also utilize third-party partners to help digitize operations. Libro.fm, for example, is a website where users purchase audiobooks. The sales are split 50/50 with local bookstores, but right now, Libro.fm is giving 100% of payments to bookstores.
If you already have a successful eCommerce platform, you can continue to reach new audiences with special offers, discounts, or promos. A lot of consumers stuck at home are looking to kill some time, and companies like Corepower Yoga are offering them free online classes. In addition to introducing people to the Corepower brand, the yoga company is also introducing users to their brick and mortar experience, encouraging them to take studio classes when they’re available again.
If going online is just simply not an option, make sure that you’re at least updating your Google My Business profile with store hours, FAQs, or content updates. Also, keep updating customers on your social channels with any changes to your services. These are two popular digital sources consumers will check with to connect with your business.
Pull Out All the Social Media Stops
Many of us have posted to our Facebook feed, but how many of us have used the Live feature? How about the Add to Story feature? The COVID-19 outbreak has caused surges in social media activity. Now is the time to experiment with different types of social content to ensure you’re maximizing the tool’s potential to connect with audiences.
Social is a great place to share not just your latest blog post, but also content that humanizes your brand. People love to see behind the scenes images or videos taken with a cell phone. Take a picture of your home office to show people you’re still working (but with slippers on). Or maybe share a screenshot of a team Zoom meeting. These opportunities make your brand feel relatable.
Consider Paid Digital Strategies
With paid digital strategies like search engine optimization, search engine marketing, social media advertising, and retargeting, communication with your audience can remain uninterrupted. Before COVID-19, these were already effective marketing tools and they’ll become even more important as businesses and consumers are working from home.
These strategies help tell your story to a larger digital audience, increasing brand awareness and engagement. One of their greatest benefits is that they’re highly trackable. You can tell if they’re driving conversations, sales, leads, or phone calls based on real-time metrics.
These strategies do however require a large budget to make them effective. They are also long-term strategies, meaning they must continuously run over months to work. If you have the budget to explore a paid digital strategy, talk with your agency partner to pick the right one for your business.
Explore Online Partner Marketing
Local online publications, like Charlotte Agenda and CharlotteFive, are pumping out content about how our greater Charlotte area is dealing with the coronavirus. There’s plenty of reporting on the latest statistics and policies, but there are also a lot of personal essays, advice on how consumers can help the economy, lists of restaurants that are still open, and more close-to-home narratives. Consider plugging yourself and your business into any one of these narratives.
If you have a personal story to tell as a business owner or employee, these are great outlets to tell them. Pitch it to the editor! It doesn’t hurt to give your business some limelight, but more importantly, your story can help others in similar situations feel less alone. It can also be a powerful source of best-practice sharing.
Support Local Or Else is another awesome digital resource. Founded by the owners of Black Wednesday and Hygge, the website aims to highlight local businesses and showcase deals and offers as a way to attract and engage consumers. Businesses are welcome to submit an offer.
A Final Note
These past weeks, all of us have had to adapt to new social and business environments. Mental health professionals tell us that one way to stop ourselves from panicking is to focus on what we can control. Tactics like content and digital marketing are examples of actions we take to move ourselves and our businesses forward in this uncertain time. They’re opportunities to get back to work, and, more importantly, to connect with and support our audiences.
Looking for more tips? Stay tuned to our blog for the full 4-part series to get more marketing ideas amid the coronavirus.
Need help marketing your business? Give us a shout!
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