How to Handle Marketing During a Pandemic

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One might think that at Epidemic Marketing, we have been preparing our entire careers for a catastrophe such as COVID-19, but in reality, we are caught off guard just like any other company and organization.

Truthfully, when an unexpected situation arises, it is natural to feel frustrated, stressed, or anxious. The current coronavirus outbreak is an unprecedented event in modern history. However, what matters most for all marketing agencies is knowing what is within their control, and taking the necessary steps to preserve their marketing strategies and clients.

With worldwide travel bans established, daily life coming to a halt, and governments recommending their citizens to stay at home, it may seem difficult if not impossible to continue current marketing operations. But here at Epidemic Marketing, we believe in taking the bull by horns. Marketing is a vital part of forming relationships, gaining more clients, and advertising your business’s assets, even during times of a pandemic. In this article, we’ll go over the key steps to keeping your marketing productive during these strange and trying times.

A graphic of an N95 respirator mask

  1. Hammer Home the SEO and Content Marketing Strategies

There is no doubt that SEO and digital content marketing is crucial to your brand’s visibility. It’s no surprise—at least several hundred million people a day access the Internet. With shelter-in-place policies and more and more households entering quarantine every day, we expect the number of daily Internet users to rise tremendously during the outbreak.

If you haven’t started focusing on your business’s SEO strategies or developing digital content, we suggest beginning now. With more online users and the need for digital content soaring, marketing agencies need to be ready to produce content to capture their audience’s attention.

While you can, take time to check the design and copy of your social media channels and websites. See if any keywords related to COVID-19 and your business are applicable. Don’t hesitate to change the wording of your copy as you see fit. Even fine-tuning the smaller details will help your agency during the short and long term.

  1. Tie Your Services to Current and Local Events

Understandably, marketing during a pandemic is unexpected and new for many. The first step you want to take before pushing any marketing is evaluating your business’s connection with the current epidemic. What kind of services can your business offer during this unusual and unpredictable time? Can your organization support an essential service that aids quarantined citizens and medical professionals? If you’re a smaller business, are there ways you can create a local impact?

We suggest “newsjacking” situations and/or local events that are relevant to your business. Think about the different angles you can take on each news item and how your business can be a solution or offer a community service.

That being said, it’s important to stay relevant but also try not to be tone-deaf. Clients and customers are only human, and many individuals have had their lives radically altered due to COVID-19. It makes sense for a company to find the connection between their services and the effects of COVID-19; however, we suggest not to make every update from your business about COVID-19. Considering how every online news source is generating tons of digital content about COVID-19, clients and consumers are most likely flooded with information on the outbreak so keep it concise and straightforward.

  1. Check-In and Offer a Helping Hand

Everyone can agree that COVID-19 has caused much stress and anxiety in the world. If you ever wanted to show a human side to your business, now is the time to do it. For smaller businesses or B2B businesses, we suggest calling and checking in on your clients and partners. If it is within your business’s scope, see if you can offer any assistance. Online engagement and interaction are especially crucial when social isolation is necessary to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Keep your customers and clients engaged, informed, and as satisfied as possible. What many businesses need to keep in mind is not their performance during the COVID-19 pandemic, but rather how they handle the situation. People are more likely to trust and invest in a business that adapts flexibly to current events. Don’t be reluctant to design new marketing strategies or policies, and keep your eyes on your long-term business goals.

  1. Review Automated Messages and Text

A woman looking at an Iphone with a laptop on top of her table

For businesses that use automated messaging and text services to engage with potential customers, you might want to take a minute to review them. Make sure to reflect your business’s important new updates. If you’re only doing takeout or delivery, make sure to notify your customers. If you have different hours, switch out the relevant information. If your physical office location is going to be closed, be sure to modify the office’s voicemail message.

It’s also worth investing in a business phone number or a multi-line system app. Coming up with a way to stay organized while handling customer inquiries and concerns is essential because most of your customers will have questions regarding your service. Though this may be everyone’s first epidemic, we have the technological means and measures to keep business operations going.

  1. Provide Special Deals and Packages

Deals, sales, and packages are excellent ways to draw in new clients and keep loyal customers. Because many people are laid off or furloughed from work, they might not be able to afford your company’s usual services at full cost. Consider providing a special promotion that offers financial leeway for your customers but still allows for profit.

Think about what makes up the cost of your products or services and what deals may attract new customers to your business. Some companies are simply marking down their prices or providing certain services for free. Others are including add-ons such as free face masks, hand sanitizers, and wet wipes for every purchase. Flexibility and adaptability are the most important traits during a crisis. Making sure that your business can do both is important for your clients, your partners, and your business’s overall image.

  1. Shift Your Expectations for Testing

Certain aspects of marketing require time and data to make a decision. For example, when testing a new product, you need ample feedback to adjust before officially releasing it. Or if you want to see if a new SEO strategy will help in gaining more conversions on your business’s website, you need a good amount of website traffic to determine that.

Collecting data is a task that requires time and energy. Furthermore, good data must be analyzed—data is useless if it’s not incorporated or used to achieve organizational goals. However, given the current events in the world, we suggest holding off on testing. If you have to conduct testing, we recommend going over expectations and deadlines with your staff. Make sure to keep deadlines flexible, especially if remote work will extend the amount of time needed for testing.

  1. Emphasize New Protocols

Another way to show how your business responds in this uncertain period is by highlighting the steps that your business takes to keep employees safe and to follow government regulations for COVID-19. For example, in some states, restaurants have employed 6-feet social distancing dine-in. In China, businesses even go as far as recording and showing how they disinfect their workspaces as a PR tactic.

Regardless of the measures that you take to protect your employees and your business, emphasizing your company’s new safety protocols provides relief and earns trust from clients. By showing that your business is taking the novel coronavirus seriously, customers will know they’re dealing with a professional organization.

  1. Show Your Support for Your Employees

a man wearing a face mask while having a video call

Your employees play an essential role in maintaining business operations during a stressful time. Showing your support can come in different ways. You can provide paid time off if your employee becomes ill or shift immediately to remote work. Regardless of the new working policies you want to implement, as a business leader, it’s your job to maintain morale among your employees and make sure business runs as smoothly as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak.

When showing your support for your employees, be sure to incorporate that into your business’s PR strategy. The COVID-19 outbreak is a moment in our modern history to show which companies put people first and treat their employees fairly and ethically. You can take advantage of this opportunity to build a great impression for your business while assisting your employees in this trying time. It’s a win-win for everyone, so don’t balk at the logistics yet, and think of creative ways of showcasing your business’s human-oriented side.

  1. Watch and Learn from Your Competition

This is a golden rule when it comes to marketing. Always keep an eye on your competitors. In these volatile times, your competition will be caught off-guard. Though it’s not possible to predict your competitors’ next steps, it might be wise to keep an eye on their movements and marketing campaigns while navigating your business through the uncertainty. Your competition may either develop a winning or floundering marketing strategy, and it’s always good to learn from them or to avoid a similar mistake.

  1. Get Started NOW

No matter how your business is doing, this is a tough time for everyone. A global pandemic on this scale has never taken place before in the 21st century. While there are many skilled talents with extraordinary marketing experience, nobody is an expert on marketing strategies specifically during a pandemic.

If you’ve been waiting for a sign to speed up your marketing efforts, the time is now. If your competitors are pulling back on marketing due to COVID-19, you need to be pushing digital content and online marketing. When other players slow down, that is your window of opportunity to be innovative, timely and creative with your communications. That way, you have a higher chance of coming out on the top of the market after COVID-19 subsides. It’s good to think about ways to keep your business afloat now, but never forget to think about the future and your business’s big-picture goals.

Conclusion

Frankly speaking, we are walking uncharted territory; there is no guidebook for how to market during a pandemic. However, Epidemic Marketing has always sought to provide the most effective and useful marketing advice and services. From a practical standpoint, the purpose of marketing is to sell products and services and accomplish a business’s short-term and long-term goals.

However, marketing also serves as a form of communication. Through marketing, we can engage with our clients, fulfill their needs, and showcase our social responsibility. During this unique moment in human history, the ability to find opportunities in challenges and come up with strategic solutions will determine the future of your business.

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