In the last few weeks, COVID-19 has become the center of almost every conversation around the world. If you are a business owner, entrepreneur, or CEO, you are most likely still trying to determine the right strategy for your company’s brand. Do you talk about coronavirus? How much should you update your customers on precautionary measures? Is it best to stay silent? And when is it safe to reschedule that event?
Our team has spent the last couple of months diving in with our strategic partners, clients, and community on answering these questions. These are three things we encourage you to focus on for your brand during this challenging time, and to help you prepare for the next crisis.
1. Create value-based messaging.
First and foremost, if you are a leader in an industry impacted by COVID-19, from healthcare to insurance to legal and beyond, your community and industry is looking for expertise and guidance. There is so much value you can give by sharing mission-driven thought leadership through blog posts, podcasts, and social media content and in the press. This kind of content creation doesn’t require you to travel or even leave the house—it just requires a willingness to provide value. Stepping up to provide value will build tremendous goodwill with your audience.
On the other hand, if you do not feel you can speak directly to COVID-19, it is not the time to carry on with your pre-scheduled marketing campaigns. All brands should be hitting the pause button and reassessing their strategies. For some, it might be strategically shifting messaging to allow customers to prioritize real-time information from health and government officials. If you fall into this category, use this time strategically to ramp up all marketing needs on the back end (blog posts, website features, funnel strategies, video campaigns, etc.) so you can jump back in when the timing is right.
2. Go all-in on everything digital.
Now is the time to double down on all digital efforts. This challenge is forcing many businesses to go completely digital to serve their customers and stakeholders. If you had to cancel a scheduled event, rethink it: What could it look like going completely digital, via livestream? Some conferences who made this switch are seeing a higher number of registrations pre-conference than ever before. The key strategy is to think about how you can engage your audience in a way that continues to foster community and relationship-building virtually. That could mean ramping up your email marketing communications, facilitating Facebook or LinkedIn groups, or creating a Slack channel your customers can subscribe to.
3. Take care of your team and customers.
In a crisis situation, internal communications for a brand is just as important as external communications. You must have a plan to educate and take care of your team through multiple forms of communication. In verbal and written form, share with your team the procedures and policies you have put in place to protect their well-being, and let them know how you will assess the situation moving forward.
If you are in an industry that is experiencing high call volume or customer service inquiries, work through how you can reallocate resources to enhance your customer service presence on email and social media. Put into effect a streamlined customer service tree to train up any new additions to your response team. I also recommend creating a timely FAQ on your website to increase SEO for those who are searching for answers to specific questions or concerns affiliated with your brand or industry.
A business with high foot traffic should also assess their communication plan for in-house customers. Is there a virtual option you could show your customers how to use? Focus on giving them the same personalized customer experience with personal notes, Zoom video meetings, phone calls, and email marketing.
If you are currently struggling with the right next steps for your brand and need a sounding board, please reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been impacted.