Marketing in the Time of Coronavirus

marketing uncertainty

Many companies that are still operating are hesitant to do marketing now, while we are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. With most employees working from home, they don’t have access to the same marketing resources. They are also worried about looking like they are only interested in making money while people are suffering. The good news is, yes, you can continue marketing now; you just need to do things differently.

Get Creative

You may not have access to professional photographers and videographers, but all is not lost. Create an event or contest that encourages user-generated content. You can also use stock images and video footage to flesh out short videos for your website and social media. Videos of owners and employees from home talking about the products, coronavirus precautions or community involvement are an authentic and touching way to connect with customers and prospects.

Shift to Meet Current Needs

Say your business relies on in-person interaction with customers. Since that is not going to happen for some time, look at how you can use your company’s products, processes or knowledge to fulfill a need. In addition to keeping your business afloat, it will keep you top-of-mind for when things go back toward normal.

For example, Firmenich, the fragrance house that creates fine perfumes, has shifted to producing hand sanitizer. Rum maker Bacardi has followed suit. A baseball uniform manufacturer is using the iconic striped fabric to make face masks and scrubs. Product retailers can shift to selling online and yoga instructors are doing classes on Zoom. Include your new offerings in all of your digital marketing.

Hold Online Events

People staying home are bored and there’s only so much Netflix they can watch. Create fun and educational online events to entertain and inform them. A liquor store can create a bi-monthly cocktail-making or wine webinar. Fashion stores can run a contest asking customers who have previously purchased to send videos of them modeling the clothes they bought. Feature the videos in your social marketing posts and on your website.

Pair it with the ability to order online, and you can make sales, maintain awareness and strengthen your brand.

Make People Happy

Use humor to alleviate the tension people are feeling right now. Everyone can use a smile or laugh. Or, surprise people with something amazing, as John Krasinski did with this episode of his YouTube series Some Good News. That’s why, as of the time of writing, his video has gotten over 11 million views. Of course, most small business owners don’t have the kind of access to celebrities that Krasinski has, but if you can tap into some engaging talent, then do it!

For more ideas about smart marketing in the time of coronavirus, contact Pro Creative.

Getting People to Change Their Behavior

convince them to change their behavior

The goal of all marketers is to convince people to change their behavior. Try this product. Fill out a form. Don’t take a taxi; take an Uber. And, most recently, stay home, wash your hands, wear a mask.

As we’ve seen lately, even with a very compelling reason for people to change their behavior, getting them to do so, especially for any length of time, is hard. In fact, when you tell someone, “do this,” it is likely that the answer will be no, as anyone who is the parent of a teenager can attest. It’s human nature to push back against directives from other people. The most effective strategies involve convincing people it is their own idea to change their behavior.

Point Out Inconsistencies

Have you ever heard anyone say, “Do as I say, not as I do”? We often have double standards, where we judge other people for behavior we do ourselves.

For a healthy habit, for example, instead of trying to convince someone to do them it because “it’s good for you,” substitute a loved one and then enlarge the idea.

In a groundbreaking stop smoking campaign in Thailand, health officials had young children go up to an adult who was smoking and ask for a light. The adult would explain that the child shouldn’t smoke because it is unhealthy. Before the child walked away, he would give the smoker a flier that said “You worry about me … But why not about yourself?” with a toll-free quit line number. Calls to the number jumped 60% during this campaign.

Turn It Around

Rather than telling, try asking. People do not like feeling like they are being lectured, but a thoughtful question can get them thinking in a different way. For example, an agent selling life insurance can talk for an hour about how important it is to be covered. Or she could pose the question, “How would you support your family financially if the main wage earner suddenly passed away?” Now, the prospect is making internal calculations that are likely to shift the conversation from “if” to “how much coverage is needed.”

Break It Down

Sometimes, recommendations can seem too overwhelming. For example, financial planners typically recommend that everyone have at least 3-6 months worth of cash set aside in an emergency fund. But for people living paycheck to paycheck, that can seem like an impossible task. Instead, ask them to save all of their $1 bills each week and put that money in a separate account. Wells Fargo has a program that does just that called Way2Save. Every time an account holder uses her debit card for a purchase, $1 is transferred into her savings account. Over time, the small deposits will eventually build up into an adequate emergency fund.

Pro Creative crafts persuasive communication that can get prospects to change their behavior to fill out a form, set an appointment or make a purchase. Find out how we can help you increase leads and sales.

Here are some more tips from the Harvard Business Review.

Effective Crisis Communication

Your communication in times of crisis makes all the difference

When things are falling apart, clear crisis communication can make customers, employees, investors and other stakeholders feel much better. During a crisis, such as a pandemic, natural disaster, civil unrest or financial depression, people are overwhelmed. The situation itself is difficult to deal with; they may also be inundated with information, not all of it true. Effective crisis communication can make all the difference in the literal and underlying messages they receive from your company.

Be Brief

To communicate effectively, use short, impactful words. People will understand you and will view you as a decisive, trustworthy leader. Don’t use jargon or too many multi-syllable words in crisis communication. Get to the point quickly.

As an example, during the coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo sent this tweet, “Stay Home. Stop the Spread. Save Lives.” The great communicator Winston Churchill, was also a fan of brevity. In fact, he wrote a memo to members of Parliament urging them to be brief when communicating.

Use Analogies

The most efficient way to explain a new situation, which is usually the case in crisis communication, is to use an analogy to something your audience already understands. For example, say you have an essential business that is still operating during the pandemic and you want to explain how your employees are wearing protective gear. Instead of talking about N95 masks and PPE, say that each employee is suited up in full protective gear, just as firefighters wear specially designed clothing and equipment to protect them.

Tell a Story

We are hardwired to listen to and appreciate stories. Stories are a highly effective way to communicate, not just information but also feelings and lessons.

In Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address, he immediately talking about the founding of the country. At first, this subject seems off-topic for the times. However, he wanted to remind people of North and South that they had a shared origin and were and should remain one country.

If your company has helped people (employees, customers or community members) during crisis, tell the story with names and details. It will get across your message better than just telling people you care.

Times of crisis do not lend themselves to dense language, in writing or spoken communication. This includes legalese, flowery or technical jargon. Make sure you communicate with stakeholders regularly, but pare back to the essentials in your communication. Here are some additional tips from Purdue University.

Talk to Pro Creative about find out how we can help you improve your crisis communication.