These are uncharted times — in healthcare, in economics, and, yes, in marketing. As the world reacts and responds to coronavirus, brands don’t have a pandemic marketing playbook to draw from. But those paying attention have learned this much: Market with an eye on business resilience.
What does it mean to be resilient? It’s the idea of weathering the storm and coming back better than ever. Here are three strategies for integrating business resilience into your marketing:
Support your existing clients and customers
Now isn’t the time for self-centered marketing. Instead, think about what your clients and customers need most and how you can help them obtain it. They’ll remember this (and thank you for it) at a later date.
If you’re in a relevant industry — say, healthcare — craft marketing materials that keep people safe, healthy, and calm. WebMD, the health publication, is sharing helpful dos and don’ts for its readers. “Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself right now,” reads a recent blog post, which features information on everything from hand washing (“Do wash your hands for at least 20 seconds”) to masks (“Don’t wear a mask unless you’re sick”). Similarly, the insurance giant Aetna recently sent members an email that quickly and clearly outlined the steps their taking to help customers, like reducing fees and copays.
If you’re in an industry without health expertise, you can still support your clients and customers. Search out high-quality information from reliable sources and share it with your email lists, your social media followers, and other audiences. For example: In a letter on the Patagonia homepage, the CEO of the outdoor clothing retailer reminds readers that “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your local health authorities are the best resources for updates and answers to questions.”
Another way to support your clients and customers? Don’t be insensitive or irrelevant. Now isn’t the time to schedule social media posts for the next month and then walk away from your desk. More than ever, marketing campaigns should not be on auto-pilot. You need to adapt and adjust in real time, especially when things are volatile. Why? Look to Planters peanuts, which was still sending glib tweets about the death of its mascot as news of Kobe Bryant’s death was breaking. “After Bryant’s death, Twitter users complained that the campaign, as well as the hashtag #RIPeanut, was insensitive,” reports PR Week.
Play the long game
We’re in crisis mode right now, but there is light at the end of the tunnel; coronavirus will be dealt with and life will return to normal. As a result, it’s critical not to lose focus on retention marketing — that is, “a school of marketing to create engaged customers that return to your [brand] again,” in the words of HubSpot.
Despite what’s unfolding, you don’t want to go radio silent. As mentioned earlier, you can share relevant information. You can also give people something to look forward to when the waters calm. The letter from Patagonia’s CEO ends on a note of optimism: “Over the years, as our Patagonia community has been faced with challenges, I have always been inspired by how we emerge stronger and with an even deeper sense of purpose,” she writes. “We will persevere through this challenge, too.”
In a recent email from the president and CEO of AAA, the transit nonprofit executive urges readers to stay connected online: “You can also connect with us on social media for the latest information and updates, or to just let us know how you’re doing,” he writes. Messages like this grow an audience for here and now — but also for later.
Use any downtime
Your marketing shouldn’t stop, but it likely will slow. It’s unavoidable. So, make sure you’re using this time efficiently, and working on things you’ve always wanted to tackle but couldn’t fit in.
Maybe this entails formulating a long-term marketing strategy: What channels, what messages, and what goals you’ll focus on in 2020 and beyond. Maybe this entails a thorough self-audit: A careful look at all your existing web properties and past engagement metrics, to determine which channels need more attention, which need less, and which need to be wound down. Or, maybe this entails a landscape analysis of your competitors: Which marketing strategies and tactics you might emulate, and which you should avoid. These are all critical components for building strong marketing muscles, but can be difficult to find time when juggling an array of short-term projects. Now is the time to dig in.
Smart, strong marketing is never a cakewalk — especially in unprecedented times like these. But it is necessary. At a moment when brands and consumers alike yearn for business resiliency, make sure your marketing efforts support just that.