The standard joke, “Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that we’re living in unprecedented times in recent history,” just doesn’t work in our current situation. These unprecedented times are causing us all to have to live under a rock. Businesses are shuttering, events are canceling, and everyone is retreating into their homes.
In this climate of isolation, with dwindling receivables and a sheltering workforce, it can be tempting for businesses to scale back on their marketing efforts. The logic seems reasonable. Marketing to a populace that is itself trying to scale back on expenses and interactions seems an imprudent use of limited resources.
But it’s a mistake.
“But,” you say, “I don’t want to be perceived as trying to take advantage of a terrible situation for personal gain.” That’s a reasonable concern. But ask yourself if that’s what you’re doing. It’s almost certainly not true.
Promoting your business is a continual process that should continue regardless of external circumstances. Self-promotion is how businesses stay in business. Do we ask plants to stop photosynthesizing during a crisis? Do we require stars to quit fusing hydrogen? Do we ask the Kardashians to cease being the Kardashians?
When your business is suffering under the strain of unpredictable circumstances, the last thing you want to do is shut down the processes that sustain it. In the short term, you might improve your situation, but the long term effects on your market share could be significantly worse.
During a crisis, it’s wise to pull the plug on all unnecessary spending. Just don’t lump marketing into that category. Not only should you continue with your current marketing plan, with possible revisions, but you might also want to consider increasing your presence. Right now, the crisis is COVID-19. But whatever the crisis might be, it will eventually end, and when it does, you want to be ready to reclaim your place in the market.
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Marketing Builds on Momentum
Once you’ve established your brand and successfully built recognition among your target audience, you can parlay that momentum into growth. But like a car rocketing down the highway, if you take your foot off the gas, even for a brief period, your momentum will fade. The other cars on the road will begin passing you, and the distance they put between themselves and you will be challenging to make up, even once you resume acceleration.
Crisis or not, you need to keep yourself in front of your prospects and customers. You need to keep the momentum you’ve built so that when life returns to normal, you can pick up where you left off without a hiccup. You may even find that you’re doing better than you were if you continue marketing through the crisis while your competitors don’t.
Choose Your Messages Wisely
This isn’t the time to scale back your marketing spend, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t change your strategy. During a crisis, people are scared. They’re sensitive. You need to be sure that you aren’t saying things that might upset people. And as we so aptly pretended you said earlier, you don’t want to come off as trying to capitalize on a bad situation.
You certainly don’t want to play the crisis card too heavily in your messaging, or you could be perceived as trying to cash in. At the same time, you don’t want to pretend nothing’s changed, lest you be judged as cold and indifferent.
Couch your use of the crisis in humanitarian terms. Talk about giving back to the community. You care about your customers’ wellbeing, so let them know. Always be mindful of how the crisis is affecting the community and be sensitive to the part you can play. It’s smart to talk about the good you’re doing, but make sure it doesn’t come off as bragging. The crisis isn’t about you.
Empathy and compassion will go a long way toward ingratiating the public to your message. When they understand that, just like them, you’re merely doing what you need to to survive in difficult times, and that you’re interested in helping them survive as well, they’ll welcome your efforts.
Because there’s nothing wrong with getting your message out and keeping yourself at the top of your audience’s attention as long as you keep in mind what they’re going through. You’re going through it, too, so use that shared experience to create an emotional connection.
Don’t Stop Marketing. Just Reevaluate Your Priorities.
It’s essential to be frugal during a crisis. You don’t want to overextend yourself and risk tipping into financial instability. Look at your overall marketing plan and decide where best to place your available resources.
It may be worth pulling back on expensive advertisements to focus on building your social media presence. You can take a grassroots approach and build awareness from the bottom up. Particularly since people tend to rely heavily on social media to stay connected during tumultuous times, shifting to a social-heavy strategy may help you meet your customers where they are.
The revisions you make to your marketing plan will be unique to you, based on what you’re currently focusing on. The most important thing to remember is that, whatever you do, you don’t want to lose ground. Keep your momentum up, even if it means shifting your priorities. Even if it means spending a little more than you might otherwise be comfortable with. During a crisis, fortunes favor the bold. Not the foolish, mind you. How you strike that balance is where you need to put your focus.
If you’d like some help rejiggering your marketing plan in light of the current crisis we’re all facing, give us a call. We know how to navigate the thorny path you find yourself stuck with. We can help chart a course that’s frugal with your spend while keeping your public informed and aware of what you have to offer.
Above all, be safe out there. And make sure everyone you love knows it. This will all end eventually. We need to keep our wits about us, do the things we need to do, and head in the proper direction.