There are no two ways about it, Coronavirus and the subsequent quarantined environment of many societies globally will be the defining event of 2020, and likely years to come. Social-distancing is the hottest buzz word on the globe right now, and the way we live our lives on a day-to-day basis has changed for the foreseeable future. Almost overnight, we, as individuals and consumers, have pivoted in our spending priorities, the way we work and the way we can and want to consume marketing messages. So, how do businesses plan their digital marketing strategy in the wake of a global crisis such as COVID-19?
- Pause everything and reassess.
The key here is to act quickly to ensure you aren’t pushing communications that are no longer relevant or insensitive. Don’t be that business that is still promoting community events or social gatherings, just because it was scheduled a month ago. Things have changed, and so should you. Pause, and reassess what the most important messages are that you should be communicating to your audience and prioritise these. You know that old digital marketing rule: Be flexible? Now is the time to put it to the test.
2. Connect with your audiences from the heart and not with the bottom line in mind.
Businesses are facing economic pressures and the temptation to do all you can to push a sale might be a difficult one to resist. With much uncertainty on the horizon, consumers are looking to trusted brands as a voice of reason and for personal support more than ever. With sensitivities high, pushing sales pitches is a sure way to present as shallow and insensitive to the more significant global issues. As Jim Nail, from Forrester, explains “The last thing you want to do now appears tone-deaf or opportunistic or otherwise taking advantage of the situation in any way.”
3. Stay positive and share good news stories.
People are stuck at home and searching for positive messages to distract themselves from the overload of ominous stories. What are some acts of community care that have warmed your heart that you can share? How can you engage your audience to enrich a positive community sentiment? Not only is this good for morale, but this will help you create trust with your audience and set the tone for more open and honest conversations in the future.
4. Understand how your audiences function as a result of the crisis and how they will function in the future.
Never have people relied on technology to stay connected to this extent before. Disposable income could shortly be a rarity for many people. Shared spaces and the opportunities for physical interactions are of short supply. Many supply chains are strained, and access to daily commodities may not be a given. People have more time and are looking for mental stimulation. Given this, if you were your audience, what would you be the most receptive to now? Think about ways to modify your offerings to cater to the changes faced by your audience, now and in the future.
1. DON’T set and forget.
We understand that the existing digital marketing plan was set and ready to go for a reason. However, crisis’ such as COVID-19 means constant turbulence, with new news every day. What was relevant and marketing gold before may not be relevant now. Refer to DO #1 here.
2. DON’T panic.
The whirlwind of ‘What if…?’s, conspiracy theories and blame game politics might be conversations you can’t resist in your personal lives, but from a business perspective this is a big NO. Consumers expect you to act with reason and have faith that you function to output good rather than hysteria. Entering into polarising debates is never a good look, but especially when sensitivities are high. Lead with positivity, understanding and resilience.
3. DON’T slow down your communications.
We need YOU! Going quiet when people are clawing for information stimulation is a bad tactic. Lots of businesses will be capitalising on the opportunities to connect with idle consumers, so don’t let them tap into your share of those eager eyes. According to Nielsen, when people are residing at home, it can lead to a 60% increase in digital content consumption. If anything, this is a time to increase your communications. Ensure the messages you are sending are sincere and well-intentioned for your community.
In a time when the human race must band together, it is vital that businesses are looking out for the best interest of their communities at large. Be smart, play your part and hold in there. Things will get better, and the experiences we have today will help to establish a more resilient consumer base and market place, so play the long game.
Written by Anna Jenkins, resident ED copywriter.