The impact of COVID-19 has led to strange times for marketers. We’re seeing new paradigm shifts every day, and at thunder::tech, we are working hard to help you navigate its impact on your business. This content is one of many resources we are creating for marketing and management in the midst of the coronavirus.
As things continue to change, we’re helping by providing marketing advice, fresh perspectives and strategic planning for companies during and after the pandemic. For a full list of our COVID-19 resources, click here.
In this current period of growing uncertainty, many marketers may be entering a quiet or a slower business period. It’s unclear whether the coronavirus (COVID-19) is a bump in the economic road or the beginning of a recession.
Every astute marketer should know the recommendations and warnings about cutting marketing budgets during a downturn. It is your opportunity to get the jump on competition while staying top of mind with prospective customers and helping to retain existing business. However, don't be tone deaf to the situation at hand and the market conditions in which you operate.
Below is a list of recommendations and ideas on what marketers can start doing right now in order to achieve these goals in a period of economic downturn. These ideas are driven specifically by the conditions brought on by attempts to contain the coronavirus. You may have more time on your hands, customers may have more time to fill (shoutout social distancing!) and customer habits will change based on the current global landscape.
Before we get started
First and foremost, once you have completed any internal steps to manage the safety of employees and customers, you need to determine your brand’s message during this pandemic period. Don’t be generic, don’t be short on details and do work to get it right.
Get out the word to everyone: employees, clients, partners and the communities you operate in. Use email, social media and even make a few phone calls.
Second, understand where to spend your time - on short or long term opportunities based on your industry and how your customers are reacting to the pandemic. You probably won’t be able to accomplish all of these ideas, but you need to determine whether you will tackle a laundry list of these ideas or put effort into a handful of them.
Consider your company’s available time, resources and message before strategically deciding how you will come out successful during this time.
How to stay active with your marketing during the coronavirus
Presenting thunder::tech’s ideas big and small, suitable for both B2B and B2C brands.
- If you offer delivery, make sure it is promoted! Can you offer free delivery, or other models such as membership driven delivery?
- Revisit that long-term planning and strategy work you’re always too busy to work on.
- Clean up your client database and add new information.
- Pair purchase data.
- Append mail data.
- Use already collected data to build or refresh customer personas.
- Explore the benefits of Amazon and other e-commerce platforms.
- Update your internal digital systems. No time like the present to tackle this one!
- Look into online delivery partnerships.
- Establish gift card systems.
- Set up online reservation systems.
- Investigate social media and streaming trends. Due to increased remote work and social distancing, odds are high that users will spend more time on these platforms.
- Stock your content! Develop blog posts, podcasts and social media posts for your business. Post with care based on the changing sentiment during the crisis or better yet, save the content for when it's appropriate.
- Review your scheduled posts for the next month to ensure they’re appropriate to post during a pandemic.
- Trial OTT and internet radio advertising (if you aren’t already).
- Pay to promote timely content.
- If you’re seeing a surge rather than a downturn in this uncertain time, determine how you can take advantage of this attention and build your audience.
- Draw new customers to your email lists.
- Entice social followers by ramping up organic efforts for audience building.
- Bring in new customers to your loyalty program.
- Tune up your social channels - both company pages and personal profiles.
- Expand your LinkedIn network with meaningful connections.
- Curate your personal social media feeds, especially LinkedIn. Research and follow good industry sources.
- In the same vein, clean out the clutter on your feeds by going on an unfollow spree to remove distracting content.
- If your conference or trade shows have been canceled, brainstorm what you can now do with that budget to reach similar audiences.
- Brainstorm (and fund) new lead generation activities.
- Come up with other methods to retain your best customers.
- Put you and your team through online marketing training and certification courses you’ve been putting off.
- Work on an SEO tuneup by developing a strategy and content to gain traction in the coming weeks and months.
- If you aren’t already using video marketing, test basic video messages first to staff, then to your social channels.
- If video is a serious part of your marketing, organize your video marketing efforts around the Hero, Hub, Help model for better mid and long term planning.
- Overhaul your brand entirely. A brand refresh can be time consuming, so now is the perfect time to tackle it!
- Alternatively, focus on refreshing only one brand element, like your visual identity. You have plenty of time to think thoughtfully around it rather than rushing to the market.
- Tighten up your internal messaging and positioning work.
- Renew and expand your brand standards.
- Update your media relations outreach list. (JUST update! Now is not likely the time to insert your brand into the news cycle.)
- If you see a slowdown for your product, can you ramp up promotion on any of the following:
- Bulk purchasing.
- Discount and coupon strategies.
- New models like subscription or product-as-a-service offerings.
- Pull forward bookings, reservations or other purchases that may occur later in the year but can be promoted to create more cash flow now.
- Make up a new holiday to run promotions or better yet, grab onto a "national day of" that already exists.
- Lend a hand to your HR department. They need marketing, too! Help build your employer brand to improve:
- Your approach to job postings.
- The careers page of your website.
- Your corporate LinkedIn job postings and page.
- Run an online survey to get your customers’ opinions. Odds are good they’ll be online more often in the days to come. Take the opportunity to learn more about their changing habits or desires for your offerings.
- Research brand-friendly hashtags (or create your own, just be careful!) you can be a part of that deal with sharing information or inspiration with downtime such as:
- For marketing and sales teams, a quiet period is an excellent time to do outreach paired with:
- Educational content that nurtures relationships.
- Marketing automation to reach and track digitally.
- Livestream or host webinars
- Does your service translate to being paid for via a live stream?
- Can you educate customers or run training sessions over live streaming or webinars?
- Build brand goodwill. Is this crisis a chance to offer your product or service for free or deeply discounted for public safety?
- For example, Cisco is offering their Webex for free.
- Same with Comcast's Xfinity internet service. They’ve also turned up speeds for all low income customers.
- Develop new website page/landing page promotions specifically for the coronavirus crisis.
- How are you taking care of employees, customers and partners?
- If there is any effect on your products or services (i.e. supply chain disruptions)
- How can your brand support customers at this time?
- Showing support to your community
- Is a segment of your employees affected? Can you communicate internally and externally how you're supporting them?
- Is part of your supply chain being affected and your efforts or financial contributions would create goodwill?
- Are there nonprofits that you associate with that would benefit from your financial support or marketing help during the coronavirus pandemic?
This list should help you get started, but we welcome your own ideas, thoughts and stories in the comments! We’ll keep adding to our list.
Feel free to share this post or graphic with other marketers, especially small business owners!