It’s no secret that the current climate is a strange and uncertain one – all thanks to the coronavirus. One minute we’re social distancing and the next, preparing for a national shutdown. Everything is changing daily – lives have been disrupted, we’re forced to do things differently, and we’re now embracing a new way of working in the virtual world.
We had our last face-to-face team meeting this morning (at a safe 1.5-metre distance from each other) as we prepare to embrace working from home indefinitely. We discussed what this is going to look like, how we’re going to manage and, naturally, the coronavirus was the main topic – particularly for our clients. It made me think, what should businesses be doing during these uncertain times when it comes to their content marketing? It might seem tempting to panic: cut the spend, batten down the hatches and disappear into the dark, but there’s a genuine opportunity here for business leaders to rise to the occasion, live their values, and support their clients. One thing’s for sure – the NBN is getting a workout – people might not be going to gyms, but they’re spending plenty of time exercising their keyboard online. They’re working from home, streaming content, engaging with each other and brands on social media and shopping through e-commerce platforms. If you’re not ‘online’ right now, then you’re not being seen. And, during this crisis, this isn’t the time to lose visibility or your voice. Let me tell you why.
Clear communication equates to trust
I cannot stress to you enough: first and foremost, keep your communication lines open whether it be social media, websites and landing pages, email marketing or article writing or all of the above. Don’t be that business that goes radio silent. In times of crisis, people need to be reassured – they appreciate knowledge, tangible advice and factual information.
As new government announcements are made that can affect your business, customers are going to have questions, lots and lots of questions. For example, now that changes are in place, how is your business choosing to operate? If you’re a professional service, are you providing virtual consultations and video conferencing? If you’re an e-commerce store, has shipping and delivery times been affected? If you’re a food service and have to offer takeaway, where can people find your updated menus? Use your digital marketing channels to communicate clearly and effectively – preempt the questions, as you know they’re coming.
Maintain those relationships
You may be distant from your clients and customers physically, but this is your chance to be closer digitally. Now is your opportunity to keep telling your brand story, live your brand values, and keep your clients and customers engaged. And how do you do that? By creating relevant or humorous social media posts, sharing authentic Instagram stories, encouraging conversations and keeping up your blogging. This is the time to drive advocacy and brand loyalty – it’s important to remember when we’re all back to normal and the virus is a distant memory you’ll be fighting competitors for market share. And, it’s the businesses that have kept up the trust that customers will always go back to. It’s advantageous to be building that loyalty now.
Focus on practical tactics
With everything that’s happening, your business needs to be on the pulse. Coronavirus announcements are coming thick and fast – so when the government makes a new announcement, how will you react? For example, there’s a good chance that these changes implemented by the government could impact your business hours, so have you updated your website, social channels and Google My Business page? What’s your internal communications strategy looking like? Maybe you need to send regular emails to employees with updates to keep them up to speed. Do you need new policy documents or factsheets to share with your client base showing them new procedures due to the virus? And, given the complexity of everything, your service offering might change – so do you need to update any advertising that you’re currently doing? Smart business owners are proactive, not reactive, when faced with a crisis.
Are you prepared for your comeback?
Your hours might be looking a little lighter and your calendar a little less full due to the coronavirus, so use this extra time as an opportunity-maker, rather than a time-waster. Review your marketing plan, overall business goals and adjust accordingly – whether you like it or not, things are different now and it’ll certainly be different in the next few months. You might want to engage a marketing agency or consultant to do this with you and use this time to reflect on what has and hasn’t worked in the past, workshop new marketing ideas and clever content strategies. Could you be working on a rebrand at the moment? Does your website need refreshing? Is it time to tell your business story through a fresh suite of press releases? There’s always something – and you finally might have a bit of extra time to work out what that might be.
Don’t turn your back on your marketing
The beauty of marketing is that it’s perpetual and constantly evolving and should be part of your business fabric. And, consistency is key – it’s not something that you should stop and start or turn on and off. It’s constant communication with your current and prospective customers, it’s maintaining engagement and providing a voice, it’s positioning yourself as an industry leader and being a brand people can turn to. It’s information sharing and providing top-notch customer service that looks to help and support.
Given these precarious times and whilst the coronavirus is still looming, we need to be doing everything in our power to ensure our businesses survive. What I can tell you is the businesses that do emerge the other side unscathed, will have almost certainly invested in and maintained their marketing and communications strategy from the start.