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Hackernoon logoHow to Do Marketing in the Age of Coronavirus by@janstepnov

How to Do Marketing in the Age of Coronavirus

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@janstepnovJan Stepnov

Digital Marketing & Consulting

The outbreak of covid-19 is rapidly hitting supply and demand and it’s becoming clearer and clearer that no business will remain unaffected. Only those that make smart choices and take timely action will be able to stay ahead of the game and avoid potentially threatening losses.

So, how is marketing going to adapt over the coming months and what can you, as a business owner, do to protect (or even boost) your brand image when fear and stress are at an all-time high?

The main challenges your business will face

Both the private and public sectors are struggling to keep COVID-19 contained. While the social consequences are easy for everyone to see, the full extent of the economic impact that the outbreak will have is still unclear. However, it’s not impossible to predict a few patterns of behavior and anticipate the major challenges that will come up as a result.

With concerned consumers stuck indoors, companies canceling events and even giants like McDonald’s and Apple closing their stores overseas, here are the main issues that should hold your attention moving forward:

  • The global economy is taking a big hit
  • Consumers are anxious, paranoid, and active mostly online
  • There is limited shopping and traveling
  • There is an almost instant crash when it comes to in-person services due to social distancing
  • There is a significant decline in performance metrics on socials
  • The media is oversaturated with information on the virus which puts your brand completely out of the spotlight

It is important that your voice is heard and your stance is made clear to your audience regarding the immediate steps you’re going to take to deal with this crisis.

With this in mind, how can brands still connect with consumers in these uncertain times to not only maintain strong relationships but also actively build trust with their customer base?

You must not stop selling but rather do it responsibly, in the right way, at the right time, and in the right place.

Focus on the right marketing channels

What might have been the right marketing channel a couple of weeks ago, might be the totally wrong channel today. Let’s go through some of the main marketing channels, see how they have changed and which might be the relevant ones for you during these times.

  • Offline marketing

Almost all offline events have been canceled, and the ones that haven’t already just show a lack of care for the participants. Running offline events or associating yourself with one only causes more harm than good.

What is increasingly happening, instead, is that most offline events have moved online, meaning that there’s still an opportunity for the ones who can adapt to this change. Billboards that were seen by thousands or tens of thousands of people a few times a day, barely get a few glances. Physical locations are shutting down or have massively reduced foot traffic.

Direct Mail, though a possible solution for some, might also backfire when it lands in the postbox of someone who is not even engaging in online shopping due to coronavirus health concerns.

Shift your offline marketing tactics and dollars online.

  • Organic Social Media

Social media was a major part of our day-to-day life even before. As people are practicing social-distancing, they try to replace some of the offline social connections with online ones, and in turn, spend even more time on social media.

Now is important to show empathy and care in your organic social posts.

  • Paid Social Media

Consider auditing on your ad spend, copy and creative for the time being. Since there might be a considerable decline in conversion metrics over the following period, it might be wise to take an even closer look at all your advertising dollars.

Aside from supply chain shocks that might lead to products going out of stock, a slowdown of ad spending or simply being more selective with where you choose to spend your ad dollars can help you cut down on your economic losses if needed.

  • Paid Search

Paid search is still one of the best marketing channels, as it captures demand at the moment it happens. The problem is that all good marketers know that.

As more of the advertising dollars get shifted online, the cost of any paid advertising will go up, while the conversion rates might go down due to the uncertainty of our current times.

So keep a close eye on the change in customer lifetime value (LTV), and customer acquisition cost (CAC).

  • Email Marketing

Though some people have been talking about the demise of email marketing for years now, it’s still one of the best conversion channels that drive results.

As marketers will turn to the online medium, the email noise will increase and the effectiveness of all the online marketing channels will decrease. This will also happen to email marketing. It’s just the reality that we’ll all have to face.

But if you have an established email list that you’ve built over time which allows you to enjoy the trust and attention of your audience, this will prove to be an invaluable asset in these hard times.

  • Content Marketing & SEO

Content Marketing and SEO are few of the marketing strategies that don’t stop working when you stop working on them but rather they compound and grow over time.

Now is a good time to show thought leadership, educate, and create valuable content for your audience.

Be mindful of the current situation but have an eye out on the (hopefully not too distant) future when consumer habits will shift again, and we’ll see new growth on demand.

  • TV & Radio

Virtually everybody is online during this crisis. But they are not only online. Many of us use our mobile phones as our 2nd (or for some even as the 1st) screen while keeping the TV or Radio running in the foreground or background.

TV audiences are growing, but many TV stations are faced with a conundrum. They have large audiences but a sensitive topic that many brands don’t want to risk to advertise against.

Now is the time for the bold and empathic marketer to create a marketing campaign that can sit well in between Coronavirus-related news. It’s not an easy task to do, and it really depends on your business, but when done right, it can bring good results with smaller than normal costs.

  • Video Marketing

The same goes for your video marketing — which nowadays means mostly Influencer Marketing.

In the US and Europe usage of video streaming platforms increased by 60%. Views on YouTube are at their highest ever with influencer content peaking the charts, conversions to paying users are at an all-time high!

Now, is the perfect time to leverage influencer marketing and drive online sales. 

  • Affiliates and Partnerships

Stay close to your partners and support them however you can in these challenging times. Besides strengthening that relationship, they might also prove to be a good marketing channel.

  • Sales

All sales will be moving online and over the phone. Sales cycles will be longer. Some prospects that you might have thought are a “sure thing” will back down on you.

Things will look dark in the upcoming days and weeks, but don’t despair. Keep building those relationships and keep the communication open. Educate your customers. Offer deals, where possible. Offer assurances. Sell the future. Sales will continue, it’s just the pace and details that will change.

But it’s not only about the channel. Today, even more than ever, it’s about the message and positioning. It’s about showing you care and that you’re on board the long-term view.

How to position your brand during this economic downturn

Here are some of the main ways that you can make sure this crisis works in your favor instead of against you:

  • Maximize social listening and be prepared to put out important brand statements

You should aim to be in the know regarding what your customers and your community are talking about and interested in sharing during the outbreak. You can use different tools like BrandMentions to do this or simply become involved with multiple online channels and connect with your audience directly to find out their wants, needs, and expectations.

  • Provide clear information on how your brand is managing the impact of the virus

What procedures do you have in place for handling this crisis? If you were caught off-guard, what measures are you taking to ensure that both your customers and your employees are taken care of?

Transparency is key if your goal is to build trust instead of losing it at a time like this.

  • Stay proactive and make sure your customer service is flawless

Customer service is more important than ever. This is not the time for being lax with your client interactions. On the contrary, you want to make sure that your team is going the extra mile to provide a fully streamlined and engaging customer experience.

In fact, every interaction between your brand and a prospect in this time of heightened sensitivity is a chance for you to build trust, communicate openly, and showcase ethical leadership. Your clients want to be reassured that you are not only making them your highest priority but also that you are making the right choices during dire times.

  • Be mindful of the content you share

Don’t use Coronavirus as a sleazy marketing tactic. Consumers will see right through it.

If you’re just riding the coattail because other brands are doing it, you’ll not only alienate your target audience but you’ll also lose credibility within your industry and, most importantly, you won’t get a chance to positively contribute and help find solutions for the very real and potentially debilitating crisis that we’re all facing.

With that being said, make sure you only cite leading authorities or public health agencies when referencing the virus. Avoid sensationalism and panic-inducing headlines and focus on raising awareness and promoting a cautious attitude instead.

  • Walk the talk

Provide resources and ongoing support both for your employees and your customers.

Don’t just go boasting on social media about how you care about your customers. Instead, actually show them that you do: offer them discounts, free trials or loyalty programs that you know will come in handy for them and bring them financial reassurance during a high-stress period.

  • Think long-term and prepare for an ongoing crisis

Whether we like it or not (or whether we came prepared for the crisis or we were taken aback), it’s important to understand that this socioeconomic change is not going away anytime soon. This means that only those who can adapt will thrive in the new market.

Keep yourself in the loop

In the coming months, you’ll need to act quickly. But you’ll also need to make difficult decisions that can either put you at greater risk of losing revenue or encourage growth. In order to make high-value decisions, knowledge is indispensable.

You have to become aware of marketing trends, industry news, and consumer behavior shifts as they are unfolding, as well as anticipate potential changes that are yet to come. So make sure that you’re constantly keeping your finger on the pulse of this crisis until it dies down.

Until then, focus on yourselves, on your partners (employees, customers), and your community. And if you want to see if we can help your business on the Influencer or Performance marketing side in these challenging times, just reach us at Zorka.Mobi

Think smart and keep yourself safe!

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