Marketing during the spread of coronavirus, COVID-19 for small businesses…what should we do?
- Business as usual?
- Use it in your messaging?
- Get respectful and quiet down?
I don’t claim to be an expert on this, but I did recently tap my network on Linkedin to see what some of the smart marketers I’m connected to thought about this.
I don’t want to say I agree with every one of these ideas, but rather share them here – and hopefully, some of these are useful to you!
My friend Steve Slater shared this great example Guinness recently put out of respectful, great marketing – as the Coronavirus swept through the country around St. Patrick’s day.
Zoom Networking Meetings
Alison Cromie, Cromie Consultants – “I’m putting together some zoom networking meetings because networking is SO important to my business! Most of the actual work I do can be done remotely, but since I rely so heavily on connecting with people, it was important to keep those opportunities happening. I also think it’s really important to think outside of the box and come up with ways to work with clients and your market given the circumstances. Get creative! We all have to figure this out, and it’s probably time to find some new ways to interact. For example, I’m thinking about coming up with a templated build for small crafters who won’t be able to attend craft fairs over the next month or so. Giving them an online presence at least gives them an opportunity to get sales even if they can’t get out to those events.”
Ensure your clients and partners know you care about safety
Donella (Frein) Olson, Edgework Design-Build – “I believe times of crisis are an opportunity to courageously lead and foster personal responsibility. Addressing the situation in a calm, clear, and factual way while avoiding hyperbole, is necessary. Keeping business operations moving forward in the safest possible environment is imperative. Reassuring our existing clients and industry partners of the measures we’re taking toward safety is obligatory. Decisions about messaging should be ethical and free from exploitation of the circumstance.”
Don’t take advantage of people’s fear
Michael Gumbert, Paid Media Specialist at Perrill “The best thing a business can do is to project calm. Don’t take advantage of people’s fear …they’ll remember that and how you treat people now is going to echo for a long time.”
Help people feel dignified
Mike Reid, Marketing Consultant at Encore Business Solutions “Companies should look for opportunities to help people feel dignified despite shortages and isolation. Think of the floral print flour sacks manufacturers made in the Great Depression (when they discovered that women were making clothing out of flour packaging). Companies that find a way to do the equivalent this time will gain massive customer loyalty.”
Add value, don’t just be a push marketer
Clay Oglesby, UX Coordinator at 3M – “If you are adding value then it’s appreciated. If there is no value add it’s annoying. Here’s an example from my phone service provider. Showing they care by adding value. Something that wasn’t expected or necessary by any means but makes me value their service more even though I won’t be taking advantage of their gesture.”
Rethink your targeting strategies
Mike Reid, Marketing Consultant at Encore Business Solutions “Before You Dial Ad Spend Down (or Up): Rethink your targeting settings (like industries & job titles on LinkedIn). Check your data. And look all gift horses in the mouth. There will be a flood of extra traffic on social and streaming sites very soon. And that might look wonderful at first glance, driving down your CPC and CPM — but it might not actually be the right traffic for you. Ad targeting settings that hit your ideal customer last week may end up hitting some totally irrelevant group tomorrow. So keep an eye on demographics and measures of intent (actual conversions, time on site, and pages viewed, not just bounce rate). And search traffic is going to change too, though it’s less clear how. So keep an eye on those search terms!”
Steer clear of exploitation
Ryan Ruud, Founder of LakeOne Digital “If you’re adding value, go ahead and share your content and insight. But I’ve been seeing some really bizarre things like blatent self-promotion, no value-added and contextually irrelevant use of the Covid hashtags just to get eyeballs. 🤷♂️”
Drilling down into data and how it’s changing
Trevor Stolber, Digital Marketer/Founder of STOLBER.com My perspective is it is absolutely not a marketing opportunity to be capitalized on but I think there are lots of potential options for small businesses to use that are cost-effective. Drilling down into data to find what is and isn’t working is probably the most valuable. Increased social media use and remarketing are also very good options for businesses not already employing an in-depth digital marketing strategy.
Find a balance – don’t feed the fear, but don’t disregard
Adam Tafoya, Founder of Educated Wallet – “It is pretty difficult: do we go on and just promote what we do, trying maybe to keep life as normal as we can in the midst of a pandemic? Or we acknowledge the fact that we are in state of crisis right now and prioritize what is happening? I believe that finding a balance is fundamental in these type of situation. I do not want to feed into the fear, but I also do not want to complete disregard such a situation. “
More aggressive SEO campaigns (more long-term thinking)
Gregory Elfrink, Director of Marketing at Empire Flippers “I think things like paid media will be just harder, especially to a cold audience, then it was in 2019 until things calm down. An interesting approach in these times is to focus on the marketing that takes longer to produce real results. Specifically, be thinking of more aggressive SEO campaigns. All those buyer guides, how-tos, informational style posts will still be ranking long after this crisis is over (unless Google has another algorithm crisis I guess). That kind of marketing can still generate ROI during the crisis since it is search intent, but post-crisis all that search volume should be shooting back up to normal levels which you’ll get paid for nicely when times turn back to normal in a year to year and a half from now. Outside of cold audience, I think doing marketing that helps keep building the relationship between you and your subscribers is a good approach – video, deeply researched valuable content, podcasts, etc. – that can build a personal relationship between the consumer and the brand will do well right now. Paid funnels to the cold audience will still work, but as I said, just think it’ll be harder cause people’s minds are pretty occupied right now so more difficult to stand out and make someone care.”
Tell people how exactly they can help
Susan Isebrand, Branding & Content at Advent Creative Group– “I personally like to see those clear messages of “here’s exactly how we can help you right now if you need it” and I plan to do something similar for our organization. I’m feeling like there is a lot of news about the actual virus and how people/orgs are reacting to it in terms of policy and process. And, there’s content pointing us to other resources – most of which is really great. I’d just like to see more out there about how people/orgs are helping others in really tangible and specific ways.”
Overall – have compassion and use the golden rule
Treating people with respect is to me – the most important part of this experience.
“The customer is not a moron. She’syour wife” – David Ogilvy
- Push into being helpful.
- Keep customer success and experience at the center of your efforts.
- Keep your people as safe as possible, if that means social distancing for now, do it.
Thanks for reading! I would love to hear how you’re handling this in the comments below.