This article was written by Clavis team member Jeff Dunk.
Let’s state the obvious right up front: the Coronavirus has disrupted businesses in every way imaginable. And there has never been a better time to boost your marketing efforts. Really? Yes. Here’s why:
Consumers have traded shopping trips for e-commerce clicks. Schools and post-secondary institutions are transitioning to e-learning classes. Many restaurants, bars and other gathering places, despite easing of restrictions in some areas, remain closed or have re-opened with drastically reduced capacity. Supply chains continue to face challenges.
In short, COVID-19’s dramatic impact on the economy has created uncertainty in almost every sector.
With companies “going dark” and closing their doors (some permanently), does it follow that small-medium sized businesses should be shuttering their social media marketing efforts until some kind of normalcy returns?
Quite the opposite. With the massive shift to online occurring in just about every aspect of our lives—from education to entertainment—there are opportunities to boost your marketing efforts for housebound or work-from-home audiences. It’s all about working to #MakeSocialSimple during unusual times.
Pivot or perish
Marketing and retail analyst Brynn Winegard says the pandemic is triggering a “pivot or perish” instinct as businesses look to manage costs.
“We haven’t seen anything like this before—no one has in any industry,” Ms. Winegard explains. “But if you’re not flexible and nimble in the way that you do business, you’re not likely to survive.”
In such an unsettled environment, general rules of marketing will likely not be effective—and may create the impression your company and brand are tone-deaf to what your audience is experiencing.
“Engage your audience in a conversation about looking and feeling your best in a world where dress-up occasions occur much less often.”
Mae Karwowski, chief executive of influencer agency Obviously, tells the New York Times that businesses should ask themselves one thing: “How is (our company’s marketing) going to make my audience feel, what emotions will it bring out in them?” The goal is to focus on positive and calming messages, rather than reinforcing the stress and anxiety many people are experiencing right now.
For example, if your business includes beauty products or clothing, engage your audience in a conversation about looking and feeling your best in a world where dress-up occasions occur much less often.
Share stories in your social media marketing about your own struggles and challenges with life during a pandemic, or work with influencers to bring a more personal, empathetic, and authentic tone to Instagram and other social media platforms.
Pull, not push
Remember: your customers are actively seeking out relevant information to get them through this crisis. As a business, your challenge is to help meet those information needs at a time when “push” advertising and boosting your marketing efforts may seem out of tune with the current environment.
Top Rank Marketing follows a simple rule to keep “content and context relevant”: Discover, Engage, Action.
Your customers are likely turning to a source of authentic content that is “firing hot” right now: search engines. Rather than missing the mark or appearing opportunistic through push marketing, companies should double their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts to position themselves as the best source of solutions and information for their customers.
There are many ways to do this. For example, a fresh technical SEO audit or on-page optimizations. But the bottom line is companies should make it easy for customers to become empowered consumers through SEO. By searching for information on their own, you will likely stand a better chance right now that customers will pull themselves toward your branded content (rather than being turned off by business-as-usual marketing).
Some tips from SEO experts cited by Top Rank:
- Create content with an SEO focus on topics rather than keywords.
- What’s your story? Brand stories will grow in significance; make sure yours stands out.
- Close the gap between SEO and brand. Be sure your marketing strategy is fully integrated with your business for the optimal product/market fit.
Go counterintuitive: increase your social media spend
For companies that directly serve the needs of largely home-based consumers—for example, food/beverage delivery, phone/internet/cable services, building/yard maintenance services, home improvement businesses, beauty and hygiene products—now might be the right time to actually boost your marketing and social media exposure.
This approach won’t work for every business, especially those with tight advertising/marketing budgets. But the same principles that are driving giants like Dial Soap and Amazon Prime Video to ramp up advertising on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube could apply to small and medium-sized businesses.
Have a special offer in mind, or just want to increase awareness of your business for when conditions improve? With consumers constantly on their phones these days, there will probably never be a better time to tell your story and boost your marketing.
So, stay safe, stay strong—and stay social.
This article was written by Clavis team member Jeff Dunk. Jeff is a Cambridge (Ontario)-based writer/copy editor whose clients range from educational organizations and financial advisors to architectural firms and fitness clubs. Formerly a producer and communications specialist with TVO, Jeff’s work has appeared in Investor’s Digest of Canada, Broadcast Dialogue, and Commonwealth Broadcaster magazine. You can find him on LinkedIn.