Life has certainly gotten complicated over the past few weeks, hasn’t it? We’re living through a global pandemic. For many of us, it’s the first time we’ve dealt with this sort of thing. There are a lot of unknowns, a lot of questions and a lot of concerns…but not many answers.
In particular, things have gotten particularly challenging for business owners and marketers. What do you do when your whole country is effectively (or literally) on lockdown? How do you engage with the Coronavirus discussion? Should you engage with the discussion?
Clearly, it’s not “business as usual”. Even if your business runs entirely online, COVID-19 is affecting you. It’s a critical time, and you need to make the right decisions if you want to get through the next few weeks and months.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at what’s going on with COVID-19, how it affects you and your customers and what you can do to come out on top in the coming months.
The Widespread Effects of Coronavirus
Even if catching the Coronavirus doesn’t meaningfully affect your life, this pandemic has far-reaching consequences. The stock market is in a free-fall. Millions are out of work. This virus is easy to catch and transmit, and governments are putting entire countries on lockdown in an effort to get the disease under control.
As a result, businesses are closing their doors to the public—some permanently. Grocery shelves are empty. People are attacking each other—digitally and physically—as everyone desperately tries to figure out what to do in this difficult situation.
At this point, Coronavirus could magically disappear tomorrow and the ripple effects of what’s happened so far would still endure for months. That’s just a reality we have to deal with.
COVID-19 will affect you. It will affect your job and your business. The question is, how?
A lot of this situation is out of your control, but one thing you do have control over is how you will respond to this pandemic. You’ll need to make a lot of decisions in the coming months and some of the most important ones will have to do with how you market your business online.
Can you control the global spread of Coronavirus? No. But, you can control how you respond. If you make the right choices, you just might be able to not only survive the current crisis…but actually thrive.
How to Market in the Middle of Pandemic
A lot has changed over the past few months. Who are we kidding? A lot has changed over the past few days.
The Coronavirus situation is constantly evolving. Predictions for the future seem to change every few hours and people’s feelings about the situation change with them.
If you want to successfully market in this sort of situation, you can’t leave your campaigns on autopilot. If you had months of social media content queued up, it’s time to put all of it on pause. The world has changed, and your marketing needs to change, too.
Adjusting Your Online Marketing Strategy
When it comes to marketing in the middle of this pandemic, one thing is obvious: your target audience has changed. For some businesses, that’s literally true—their products are appealing to new, broader audiences.
But for most businesses, this situation hasn’t changed their basic audience. What it has changed, however, is their audience’s pain points and what they care about.
For example, if you’re Costco, purchases of non-essentials like TVs have probably plummeted, while purchases of toilet paper and other essential items have skyrocketed. Right now would be a terrible time for Costco to run ads for their vacation packages.
Has Costco’s target audience changed? Not really. Their customers, however, have changed.
This same principle applies to your business, too. Your customers are worried about new things. They’re motivated by different emotions. Their hopes and dreams and fears have shifted.
As a result, you need to rethink your marketing approach. If your ads aren’t relevant to your audience, they won’t deliver results. That’s true under any circumstance, but usually, once you figure out your advertising strategy, you can count on it to perform. Now that your audience has changed, though, your ads will need to change as well.
Hopefully, this is a temporary fix. Once things calm down, you should be able to go back to your old tried-and-true campaigns.
For now, though, you need to re-evaluate everything. Go back to the same basic principles you used when you got your marketing up and running. Look for problems and new opportunities, and then adjust your strategy accordingly.
Businesses that ignore the effects of COVID-19 on their marketing will soon discover that their campaign performance is plummeting. Don’t let that be you. Rethink your strategy, take a look at the current needs and goals of your audience and come up with a plan of attack that makes sense.
How to Handle COVID-19
As you’re rethinking your strategy, it’s important to keep a few principles in mind. If you mishandle your marketing in this emotionally charged situation, you can damage your brand for years to come.
The first thing to keep in mind is that COVID-19 is not a marketing opportunity. It creates opportunities for savvy marketers, but if you piggyback off of the Coronavirus in an effort to get people to pay attention to your business, it will almost certainly blow up in your face.
Using COVID-19 as a marketing ploy cheapens your business. Your customers can tell when you’re just jumping on the bandwagon, and when that bandwagon is killing people and causing widespread fear, all you’ll do is offend your potential (and existing) customers.
If you don’t have something meaningful to contribute, it’s best to keep quiet. Treating Coronavirus like a marketing gimmick is a good way to get burned.
Instead, focus on how COVID-19 is affecting your customers.
If you’re selling life insurance, an ad that says something along the lines of, “Scared of Coronavirus? Check out our new life insurance policy” is irritating and vaguely offensive. It’s clearly a cheap ploy because even if people are scared of Coronavirus, a life insurance policy won’t protect them.
On the other hand, an ad more like “Make sure your family is taken care of…no matter what the future brings.” addresses the same underlying fear in a much more natural way. Thanks to Coronavirus, the fear is already there, you just have to provide a solution. You don’t even have to mention COVID-19 for your marketing to be effective.
Making the Most of a Tricky Situation
In addition to carefully rethinking how you market in the present, the current situation also offers many business owners a rare opportunity: the peace and quiet they need to really double down on their marketing.
Normal life is crazy and hectic—especially when you’re trying to market your business. If you’ve been forced to stay at home or business is down because everyone else is at home, you can use that time to make headway on those deep-dive projects you’ve been meaning to get to.
If you don’t have a laundry list of online marketing tasks, here are a few ways to double down on your marketing and get ready to take things to the next level once things start to get back to normal.
- Take an in-depth look at your paid search keyword strategy
- Brainstorm and write out a few video ads scripts
- Map out your content strategy
- Update or redesign your website
- Review your site analytics and identify trends and opportunities
- Revise your PR materials
- Flesh out your retargeting campaigns
- Review your paid social media strategy and come up with new ideas
- Set up A/B tests for ads and/or landing pages
- Overhaul your marketing strategy
- Create a social media calendar
- Do a deep dive into your buyer personas
- Get an agency to audit your ad accounts
Many of these tasks are vitally important to the long-term success of your business, but they tend to get put on the backburner. So, pick a few and take advantage of this unique opportunity to really dive in and get your marketing working right.
If you don’t, there’s a good chance that your competition will—and you’ll get left behind.
Amidst all of the stress and challenges of the current situation, it’s tempting to take things easy. However, this is the best time to double down, perfect what you can and up your game. That way, once things settle down, you’ll be ready to take things to the next level.
The fact of the matter is, if COVID-19 hasn’t significantly affected your business yet…it will. This pandemic is impacting all of us, but we do have the ability to decide how we will respond.
Fortunately, there is some good news. Every challenge brings new opportunities. If you’re willing to rethink your campaigns, figure out how to work with and around Coronavirus and make the most of a tricky situation, your business can emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever.