Sorry were closed sign COVID19

This a very unique time for all of us. Understanding how to properly navigate a global pandemic as a human, but also as a business owner, can oftentimes lead to more questions than answers. There is no exact playbook for this type of crisis but we are hoping to help provide some advice and clarity on how you can get your business’s message across during this time.

Below are a few things you need to consider when employing or continuing your current marketing strategy during a crisis:

1. Be Aware and Sensitive

COVID-19 has had a personal impact on everyone and the risk of being/looking insensitive or inconsiderate is at an all-time high. Social media usage is at its peak levels, everyone has their eye on each other. This is a time where your business could easily come off as insincere or insensitive when your social media is typically funny or sarcastic. Now would be the time to adjust your posts to be more serious in nature versus funny/sarcastic. Serious doesn’t mean unengaging, it just means that you will need to find a new way to catch the consumer’s eye. For example, we have seen many firms such as Wendy’s put a more serious tone in their social media posts.

Wendy's tweets about Burger King pre COVID-19
Wendy's tweets about McDonald's pre COVID-19

Before the pandemic, they were very sarcastic, carefree, and they took risks with their social media posts, but now they have dialed that back.

Wendy's tweets about free frosty. During COVID-19
Wendy's tweets about painting on Twitch. During COVID-19

Their posts now focus on spreading positive, uplifting, and inspirational messages. Their posts are focused on trying to engage the consumer without talking about the competition. These types of posts are really resonating with consumers during this time when they are feeling uncertain. These posts make consumers feel better and they remember that feeling when they think of your brand.

2. Keep Consumers Informed 

As your business is affected by COVID-19 you will want to set expectations with your customers on how you are handling this situation and how it will impact them. When you come up with the proper messaging to your customers you will want to ensure it is consistent across all your platforms online. You will want this message to be serious, reassuring, and help them understand how you are still keeping their interest in mind. A great example of a firm doing this would be GAP Inc (owners of Banana Republic).

Banana Republic email to customers about COVID-19 impact.
Banana Republic email to customers about COVID-19 impact.

They have been sending their customers updates on how their business has been affected and how they plan to overcome this obstacle to provide their customers with the best service possible. They set the expectation in their messaging that orders will take longer to fulfill and ship. They explained why things are taking longer and how they plan to work at max capacity with the resources they have available. If you own a company like GAP Inc. and you are having capacity issues due to COVID-19 you will want to address this immediately. You will need to reassure your customers that you are thinking about them and how you can provide them the safest and best service. Many consumers are very understanding of the situation at hand. They tend to have a positive response when the company brings it to their attention and resets expectations versus not saying anything and not meeting their expectations.

3. Sales and Offerings

Many firms during this time have been offering their products and services at discounts. If you are one of those firms you need to ensure the wording of your offering is not perceived as urgent and/or irrelevant. For example, if you are a shoe store owner and you are putting your shoes on sale you would not want to say “COVID-19 Shoe Sale” or “Don’t miss out!” These phrases are deemed insensitive and scarcity-driven. This type of phrasing will not resonate with consumers right now. There is nothing more important than COVID-19 and by using those phrases you are coming off as insensitive and unaware. Instead, you might rephrase your offerings to say “Affordable Work From Home Shoes Available” or “Shoe Sale! Help Support Local Businesses!” These new phrases will resonate with consumers during this time. When it comes to your offerings you will want to ensure that they are relevant and that they align with the COVID-19 safety guidelines. Offering contactless deliveries, online capabilities, remote connect, at home videos, and more will be extremely relevant to your consumers. You will want to be sure that you highlight your COVID-19 safety offerings to your customers so they can still interact and engage with you.

As you think about the changes you will need to make to your business and your marketing remember that you are not alone. All businesses are adjusting to this new environment and trying to find their footing. To help you get through these changes you will want to prioritize them, keep track of what changes you’ve made, and don’t get rid of any of the ideas you had before this pandemic. As we all get through this global pandemic we will begin to normalize again. Keeping ideas that could be relevant during a different environment is necessary and helpful as things change quickly. Just know that as long as you continue to engage your customers, listen to their feedback, and add value you will show consumers that you are still focused on them and their needs. This is what matters to them during this crisis.