It is hard to write about Coronavirus without feeling like you are jumping on the bandwagon, but I really wanted to give some guidance to businesses out there that aren’t sure where to position themselves in the market during this turbulent time.
You may have seen my recent LinkedIn post about how some of the top brands are being selfless and putting the needs of others first. Pret were the first food outlet to offer NHS workers free hot drinks and a 50% discount on food, but then others soon followed suit. This is why it is important to be innovative, and stay ahead of your competition.
Building brand advocates
Brand advocacy is a much more traditional way of looking at marketing, and is something I took a real interest in throughout my CIM course. If you position your business in a positive way during this crisis, and show your customers that you are there to help, you will reap the rewards further down the line when this has all blown over.
A phrase I heard recently that really stuck with me was “People Over Profit”. Don’t look at Coronavirus as a way to look for profit as this will give you extremely negative PR (think about how you personally view those who have increased their prices on antibacterial products, for example). The businesses that will do well once this emergency is over are those who gave up their time to help others in need, or donated supplies that were surplus to requirements.
It all comes down to Corporate Social Responsibility – removing the commercial message, coming together and putting the needs of others before your business.
Changes in online advertising
I also recently wrote a post on LinkedIn about how Google Ads have been a lot stricter on the keywords that people are allowed to bid on. Brands are being restricted on terms related to sensitive events, including disease, to prevent businesses capitalising on Coronavirus. This also means that vital news articles on the topic are being displayed higher up on the search engine results pages.
The real thing to think about when it comes to marketing your business during this time is your how to position your brand. Take the time to go through any of your pre-scheduled social media posts and make sure they are still relevant and not insensitive given the change in circumstances. If you are in the healthcare sector, and are unable to think of any positive campaigns, you are best to pause your marketing for now. Let the public health messages reach your audience instead at this time.
Think long term, not short term
It is very easy to get sucked into the here and now, but you really must remember that this is only temporary and with all the support being given by the Government, businesses will bounce back.
If your marketing budget has been slashed, although it can feel like the end of the world, you just have to be smarter with your campaigns. Don’t pump the money into shorter-term sales promotions – remember people are locked inside their homes and unsure of how things are going to pan out. They are not going to want to spend their money in this current climate.
By working on the longer-term building of your brand, you will retain your customers and they will return to you once all of this is over. It is about creating value for your customers, as opposed to making money from this crisis. Let your customers know how you are supporting them during the Coronavirus, and the measures you are taking to keep them safe. Social media and short videos are a great way to get these quick, short messages across to your target audience.
This will pass
At some point, we will all be allowed out of lock-down and people will start filling the streets and shops again. You have to keep your brand going during this difficult time – remember that retaining customers is always easier than acquiring new ones.
The businesses that are standing out for me at this time are those who are showing their true brand values in the face of this crisis. Taking care of their staff and customers, and forgoing short-term profits in favour of looking after people.
Please all take care of yourself and your families during this tough time, and nurture your brand. We will get through this together, contact me if you need any help.