Innovative and creative solutions to challenges are born out of necessity. In the world we’re living in right now, it’s no different. As customers’ priorities continue to change, smart marketers need to adapt their strategies to accommodate them.
Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs and best-selling author of Everybody Writes and Content Rules, gave a keynote speech at this year’s virtual Content Marketing Conference. The Sagefrog content team was among the attendees, and was inspired by her quote, “Crisis fertilizes creativity,” as we continue to help our clients navigate and adjust their messaging and marketing strategy right now.
Here, we’re reviewing Ann Handley’s 7 ways to market in a COVID world, so you can continue executing smart marketing during a pandemic and sustaining traction throughout 2020 and beyond.
1. Build Community + Camaraderie
During this time, it’s especially important to focus on building a sense of community and camaraderie with your customer base. People, including your customers, need to know they’re supported, and that their concerns are heard. Express that you support your customers and the community as a whole—and do so in a tangible way. Don’t just tell them that you’re there for them, demonstrate it by:
- Going above and beyond to be human with your marketing efforts
- Express empathy through your words and actions
- Providing them with helpful resources that make navigating this time easier
- Telling a meaningful story
It’s also crucial to think about voice and how your company may be perceived in its communications. Now is a time to be sensitive to the mindset of your customers by being extra human, appealing to emotions, and marketing from a peer-to-peer, not brand-to-target perspective.
2. Deepen Relationships with Existing Customers
Marketing during a crisis provides an opportunity to work on deepening relations with your existing customers.
If you don’t have a newsletter already, this is a great time to launch one, even if it’s only a temporary form of communication. Email newsletters are delivered via a human channel, not an algorithm-driven one, so they’re an easy, accessible way to connect with customers and help deepen existing relationships.
The Instagram Stories feature provides another way to engage your customers and community. You can:
- Do polls to gauge feelings and needs
- Share behind-the-scenes videos of your people
- Go live with timely information
3. Focus on Short-Term Actions That Reflect the New Reality
No one wants to make a long-term commitment right now, including your customers. Focusing on short-term actions, promotions, and offers is crucial right now for this exact reason.
If you typically offer long-term contracts only, think about what short-term promotional marketing you can offer customers that will still meet their needs. It might take some ingenuity, but it will benefit your company in the end, because your customers will see that you can adapt to their needs.
4. But Don’t Neglect Long-Term Leadership
When this is all over, (and it will be eventually!), the actions, campaigns, and initiatives your brand or company focused its resources on during this time will remain in the minds of customers’, for better or worse. You want to be there to help them in the short-term, and in doing so, customers will see your value as a long-term leader.
Use this time as an opportunity to give back to customers, donate to your local community or charities, and raise awareness about hardships and challenges of others.
5. Add an Element of the Unexpected
Adding an element of the unexpected helps keep things interesting and keeps your customers and prospects engaged. Think about how your brand and company fit into people’s lives right now.
- What’s the best way for us to engage right now?
- What are some creative ways I can communicate with and appeal to my audience?
- How can I meet them where they are?
6. Cultivate Meaningful, Manageable Relevancy
Another important guideline for marketing amid a crisis like COVID-19 is to focus on cultivating meaningful, yet manageable relevancy. Start by thinking about what products and services your company or brand sells and how you can help customers in a meaningful way. It doesn’t need to be a big, grand gesture, you simply need to offer tangible, relevant, and helpful advice.
For example, some companies and brands have taken it upon themselves to rewrite the new CDC guidelines for personal hygiene during this pandemic. These rewritten guidelines make the CDC’s original direction more accessible, easier to understand, and actionable for every day.
7. Highlight Your People
One of the most important ways to market right now is to highlight your people. Put yourself and your employees front and center right now, so people can see them. Get in front of the camera and let people see the real you, the people who make up your company, and what you’re all about.
Your goal during this time (and beyond) should be to build trust and affinity—and showing customers who you are allows you to do just that.
One great way to highlight your people is to create posts on social media or in your email newsletters thanking your employees for their hard work and dedication during this time. And remember, your company would not be where it is today without them.
Marketing During a Crisis Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult
Now that you have an idea of how you can better market during a pandemic like COVID-19, it’s time to put it into practice. Follow the guidelines we’ve outlined here, and you will ensure that your customers and community see you as a leader during this crisis, and one they can rely on long-term, at that.
Finally, understand that it’s OK to still sell and market during this time. In fact, you shouldn’t feel guilty about continuing to help those you serve and for contributing to the economy.
At Sagefrog, our fully operational team continues to work remotely, helping our clients communicate with their customers and stakeholders through strategy, website updates, blogs, content, emails, social media, digital marketing, and everything in between. We’re here to help you execute smart marketing during this time and sustain traction for your company throughout 2020 and beyond.
To ensure that you communicate the right message to your customers and stakeholders on the right channels, download this helpful guide, Adjusting Your B2B Marketing Strategy in a Crisis.