Marketing in a Time of Crisis

Smart businesses know that the current Covid-19 crisis will pass and that by laying the groundwork now to communicate effectively to customers and employees, it will pay big dividends at some point down the road.  But how can we do this efficiently and effectively? 

The first step is to create a plan.  As a marketer, you need to focus on four things:

  • Make sure that all your programs, people and technology are working well.  If you don’t have a handle on that, now is the time.  Even without the coronavirus, we’d still be heading into a new marketing environment at the end of this year when Google and others end their support of third-party cookie tracking and fundamentally changing online advertising.
  • Next, agility and flexibility are not enough.  You must also add creativity and innovation to your marketing mix.  If possible, bring together a diverse group of marketing, sales and service personnel.  Review your business and marketing objectives and assess how well you can achieve them without the set of programs you’ve been forced to eliminate.  Now look into the void and start brainstorming with your team on new ways to fill the gap.
  • During your brainstorming session, look for sparks that may trigger ideas.  Create a list of possibilities to explore.  You may need to conduct some customer interviews to flesh out the information you are working with.  Hopefully after finishing these exercises, you’ll come up with some ideas for new programs that will perhaps drive a better performance. 
  • And last, embrace this challenge with enthusiasm!  Nothing feels better than achieving and exceeding objectives.

Once you have your plan in place, begin to prioritize.

Look at what is currently running or in the pipeline.  Consider what to pivot or prioritize.  Shift dollars if necessary.

Our next step is to evaluate the language and imagery that you plan on using. There’s no question that visual communication is a powerful tool along with the words that are used.  It’s crucial to think about what type of message your brand is conveying.

Some things to look at and consider changing are:

  • removing or avoid using visuals where people or crowds are touching.
  • reframe your marketing language that may describe a close interaction with others.

Take some time to see what changes you can make that would be beneficial to the crisis at hand.  When considering your messaging to the consumer, be calm and confident.

Don’t try to capitalize on the crisis where the existing top-of-mind climate is fear and worry.  While it’s a good idea to keep people informed about how the crisis is affecting your business without spreading panic.  Your customers will see your efforts during this difficult time and thank you in the long run.  Right now, consumers are craving comfort and security.  No matter your business, you have the ability to provide this to them.

You should also take a hard look at your target audience.  With the crisis, your audience may have changed.  Are they still seeking the same benefits as pre-crisis?  Probably not.  And don’t forget to review your competitive landscape and their positioning statements.

And finally, no one knows what lies around the corner, but we can improve our chances of weathering this crisis, whether it’s created internally or externally, by having a plan in place.

Here at CPM, we are recommending dividing your plan into 3 phases:

  • The First Phase should last for the first 3 months or so. 
    In this phase, look how you might be able to adapt your products or services to ease consumers back into your company.  Concentrate on your current customers – this is an excellent time to thank them for supporting you.
  • In months 4 to 6, Phase Two would go into effect by adding elements into the first phase.  Broaden your customer base.  
  • And finally, in time for the holidays, implement a complete re-start plan for Phase Three.

In each phase, please always remember to have a clearly defined communications strategy and encourage innovation. 

Recapping this article, the key takeaways are:

  • Create a plan or audit of your current marketing efforts
  • Prioritize those marketing efforts – pause or pivot
  • Evaluate your content and visuals
  • Re-think your messaging
  • Communicate to your customers in a calm, confident manner
  • And finally, plan for now, 4 months from now and next year.

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