Customers of a large company recently received an email with the subject “Message from the CEO about COVID-19.” It offered an inspiring message and a list of benefits and services the company is offering to help its customers during this national crisis.
Good, right? Definitely. However, it was followed a few days later by a message encouraging customers to check their payment due balances and pay their bills online or via phone to ensure continued services. Not so good, and too soon. While the company clearly needs to have payments coming in, reminding customers about payments so soon after a hopeful, inspiring message likely wiped out some of the goodwill many customers were feeling about the organization.
Yes, you still can and should market during a crisis, but it’s important to do it ways that inspires and comforts customers/clients and supports your brand in a positive way. Consider a few steps:
- Suspend all non-essential press releases, email blasts, and launches. The harsh reality is that unless it’s going to help them in their COVID-19 response, no one wants to read about your new product now. People only have the time to focus on the current situation. At best, your company news will be missed or ignored. At worst, it will make your company appear insensitive and/or out of touch.
- Work on “back burner” projects. Now is the time to jump on those projects and good ideas that you’ve been holding for when you have more time. This could mean finishing a book or writing blogs or articles, starting a podcast, or working on your website. Consider those most activities likely to resonate with clients/customers and generate ROI after the crisis passes.
- Focus on online services. Give people something productive and useful to do while they’re in isolation. Create educational webinars or videos targeting topics that will support your strategies and help your clients/customers and employees moving forward.
- Attend to social media. Update your information and seek new connections. Post relevant comments that support your role as an expert, promote your brand, and speak to the needs of your audience.
- Optimize digital spaces. Refine your SEO and business-to-business marketing strategies. Look for ways to make sure your current content is as visible as possible. Identify what isn’t working and revise tactics accordingly.
- Support others. Look for ways to help your community and others in your industry. Seek ways to help employees and customers affected by COVID-19. Conduct these efforts with compassion and a genuine desire to do good. Your efforts are likely to be appreciated and remembered.
All of these efforts should focus on a few goals:
- Ensuring that clients/customers, employees, and others know that you care about them.
- Not taking advantage of people’s fears or contributing to their anxiety.
- Helping people feel dignified.
- Adding value.
- Avoiding exploitation.
- Telling people exactly how they can help.
- Working with compassion and empathy.
The time will come when you can resume normal marketing activities. In the meantime, there is much you can do to be part of the solution and much you can learn about how to move forward.