In the last 48 hours COVID-19 has become the center of almost every conversation around the world. Every article you come across online and every channel you flip to is giving updates and news surrounding the impact of this pandemic.
If you are a business owner, entrepreneur, speaker, thought leader or marketer, you are most likely trying to determine what the right strategy is for your brand. Do you jump in and talk about Coronavirus? Should you update your customers on precautionary measures? Is it best to stay silent? Are you scrambling to create an internal communications plan that keeps your team safe? Do you need to cancel your upcoming event?
Our team has spent the last few weeks diving in with our strategic partners, clients and community on answering these questions of what to do when preparing for a crisis and we wanted to share three things we encourage you to focus on for your brand during this challenging time:
1. Create value-based messaging.
First and foremost if you are a leader in an industry impacted by COVID-19, from healthcare to insurance to legal and beyond, your community and industry is looking for expertise and guidance during this time. There is so much value you can give by sharing mission-driven thought leadership through blog posts, podcasts, social media content and in the press. This kind of content creation doesn’t require you to travel or even leave the house – just requires a willingness to provide value. Stepping up to provide value will build tremendous goodwill with your audience.
On the other hand if you do not feel you can speak directly to COVID-19, it is not the time to carry on with your pre-scheduled marketing campaigns. All brands should be hitting the pause button and reassessing their strategies. For some, it might be strategically shifting messaging to allow customers to prioritize real-time information from health and government officials. If you fall into this category, use this time strategically to ramp up on the back end all marketing needs (blog posts, website features, funnel strategies, video campaign, etc.) you have put off so you can jump back in when the timing is right.
2. Go all in on everything digital.
Now is the time to double down on all digital efforts. This challenge is forcing many businesses to go completely digital to serve their customers and stakeholders. If you had an event scheduled and you are trying to determine best next steps – focus on a contingency plan of what it could look like going completely digital via livestream. Some conferences who have already made this announcement are seeing a higher number of registrations pre-conference than they have ever seen before. The key strategy is to think about how you can engage your audience in a way that continues to foster community and relationship-building virtually. That could mean ramping up your email marketing communications, facilitating Facebook or LinkedIn groups or creating a Slack channel your customers can subscribe to.
3. Take care of your team and customers.
In a crisis situation, internal communications for a brand is just as important as external communications. You must have a plan to educate and take care of your team through multiple forms of communication. Ensure you have shared with your team through verbal and written form what procedures and policies you have put into place to protect their well being and how you will assess the situation moving forward.
If you are in an industry that is experiencing high call volume or customer service inquiries, work through how you can reallocate resources to enhance your customer service presence on email and social media. Put into effect a streamlined customer service tree to train up any new additions to your response team. I also recommend creating a timely FAQ on your website to increase SEO for those who are searching for answers to specific questions or concerns affiliated with your brand or industry.
A business with high foot traffic should also assess their communication plan for in-house customers. Is there a virtual option you could educate your customers to utilize? Focus on giving them the same personalized customer experience with personal notes, Zoom video meetings, phone calls and email marketing.
If you are currently struggling with the right next steps for your brand and need a sounding board, please reach out and let us know by hitting reply or emailing me directly at email@example.com. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been impacted – we will be updating our community frequently on recommended next steps for brands as we monitor updates.