Like most companies in America, Divining Point is closely monitoring the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on the economy. We encourage companies to take the necessary steps to protect the general public, their employees, and the stability of their businesses. The spread of this global pandemic threatens not only the health of Americans in every state, but also jeopardizes businesses as we all navigate this new disruption to everyday life.
The following tips offer marketing guidance to businesses responding to the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in their communities.
Coronavirus Will Spread, Be Smart
Let’s start with the facts. The Coronavirus is real. It is highly contagious. It quickly and furtively infects others while the host victim is unaware of infection.
Although younger populations appear to suffer the least symptoms and consequences, it is potentially lethal to older populations. For this reason, everyone must practice safe prevention methods, temporarily engage in “social distancing”, and seek medical attention as soon as you suspect you might be sick. With these three steps, we can all protect the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.
All businesses must assist employees and customers to stop the spread of the virus. Where possible, you can do this by temporarily moving to a remote working model or splitting your company’s shifts to decrease contact with one another and your customers.
For businesses with brick and mortar locations, roll out protocols to regularly disinfect the surfaces in your business location. Offer delivery or pickup options to your customers to reduce total time of engagement in your storefront. Provide hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of 60%. And although it may hinder your short-term sales, reduce your store hours to manage the potential spread of the coronavirus while also serving customers who need your products.
More Time at Home Means More Media Consumption
People will stay home in the short term and opt to self-quarantine from most social engagements or unnecessary personal affairs. This time spent at home will result in a spike in media consumption as Americans struggle to fight off cabin fever. We already see an increase in the usage of online and traditional news, streaming videos, and online games and entertainment. This trend will grow for the next two to six weeks as the country attempts to control the spread of Coronavirus.
With idle time on their hands, Americans are still shopping online, researching potential purchases, and exploring future travel plans. The American consumer, in general, sees this as a short-term disruption to their more immediate plans, but the future still exists. The down time gives them the opportunity to deliberately and conscientiously educate themselves on brands, products and services. Your online messaging will have its greatest impact over the next few months.
Be Calm, Be Safe, Do Not Duck and Cover
It’s rather cavalier to say “Panic is not a strategy!”, and we vigorously push back the suggestions that the Coronavirus is an overblown creation of the media. Instead, we recommend grounding yourself with the knowledge that life must go on and you owe it to your customers to continue marketing to them.
Consumers naturally gravitate to those brands who espouse and employ responsible business ethics. They also need reassurance that the calamity of a global pandemic will not upend the economic foundation of their lives.
Leadership, hope, and inspiration are now more important than ever.
Right now, the most critical information you can share with your customers is:
- The steps your company is taking to mitigate the spread of the virus. This is especially important for healthcare, service industries, and any company that engages directly with the public.
- Any changes or disruptions in your operating hours, services, or product offerings. Give the public more information about product shortages, alternative products or services, or methods to contact you with questions and inquiries.
- Ways your customers can buy with you, either in person or online, without risking their health. People still want to buy products and services. Supply them with a safe means to do it.
- For small business, move to a cashless model. It limits exposure to the virus on the surfaces of coins, dollars and the hand-to-hand exchange. It also speeds up the transaction time to process your customers and get them safely back to their homes.
- Promote the long-term plans, programs, and specials your business is offering to restart the economy once the worst of the virus has passed. Again, people still want to buy products and services. Americans still want to travel. The messaging you employ today can inspire them to buy now or save for a purchase in the future.
Use critical thinking here. Americans are ambitious, resilient, and hungry for experiences. They’re also responding instinctively to a once-in-a-lifetime event that has fatal repercussions for members of our community. Overselling during a global crisis is both tone deaf and unnecessary.
Instead, we recommend that all businesses rethink their strategy so that it equally supports the American consumer, keeps them safe, and motivates them for a better tomorrow.
This is not the time to stop marketing. Instead, it is time to double down on your marketing in a way that helps alleviate the long-term damage to our community and our economy. As a responsible business, it is your obligation to educate the public, allay their concerns, and keep them focused on a brighter tomorrow.
COVID-19 Business Strategy Tips
How to Survive a Pandemic
Minimize the economic impact of the pandemic and hold on to your market share by planning ahead for an inevitable decline in your business. Prevent extreme losses with intelligent digital marketing strategies, good messaging and pivot to take advantage of new platforms and technologies.
Be Ready for an Outbreak
From all appearances, the current COVID-19 outbreak is following the trajectory of a typical flu season, which typically lasts until late April or May. There’s also a chance we could experience a resurgence of the Coronavirus in the fall when flu season normally returns.
Ideally, your business should have enough capital to help you survive a 2-3-month business cycle. If you’re short on funds, or if quarantine measures last longer, you should consider reducing operating hours or move to a remote working model. With the potential for reduced hours and less revenue, you should also make plans to deal with the financial setback and recover quickly.
Be Smart with Your Marketing
Given the circumstances, we recommend reducing any unnecessary overhead expenses and seek more ways to generate revenue. You need your business to survive this event and prevent long-term damage to your brand and your customer base. In essence, be strategic.
Review current ad campaigns, suspend old or pre-pandemic messaging, and adjust, as necessary, to support your company’s goals. We have moved quickly to rework all targeting, messaging, and methods to “lean into” the pandemic and still drive results.
For example, you may want to increase targeted ad spending to highlight online information or new delivery services.
For companies that expect to reduce operating hours or who may experience supply shortages, you may want to adjust your ad spending to a slower pace.
This is also a good time to increase your content and SEO strategies, since people are spending more time online. An onsite SEO overhaul, new website content, or website refresh can help you continue to stay relevant in search engine results without overtly pushing for direct sales with advertising.
Also keep in mind, some businesses will struggle and others will fail. By staying active with your marketing, you can weather the storm and gain market share at the same time.
Engaging Content Is Now More Valuable Than Ever
Companies that embrace the new business reality should switch to engaging customers at home both through engaging content, well-crafted copy, and original material. Expect for people to be online for far longer than they do during their normal, busy lives. With hours and hours of idle time, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and Pinterest will experience an overwhelming flood of bored and anxious consumers.
Informative or entertaining video, articles, blogs, and photos can help promote your Coronavirus action plan and provide a much-needed relief to the boredom of quarantine. This is the opportunity to extend your online reach and even monetize your digital marketing efforts.
With a digital marketing company, you can make the most of your budget by combining content, SEO and well targeted ads to drive more people to your site.
Respond to media inquiries seeking information about your company’s operations during the Coronavirus pandemic. Pursue opportunities for guest-posting, thought leadership and necessary insight about your industry.
New Challenges, New Markets
Much ado has been made about digital disruption over the last 10 years, but no one talks about the effects of pandemics or global disaster. Companies that quickly pivot to new models, new offers, or new methods of delivery can expect to thrive and survive during an event like the Coronavirus pandemic. Companies that capitalize on the high demand for convenience and online experiences can expect to see significant growth right now.
During this process, you must continue to inform the public and educate them on the benefits and values of your services. Additionally, as explained above, you must continue to share your Coronavirus action plans with them so they feel safe and inspired to do business with you.
Need a team to set your new strategy? Give us a call. We’re here to help.