The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world in numerous ways and is still presenting new challenges every now and then, some of which are pretty hard to cope with. Business owners and marketers are dealing with a drastically changed market and many are clueless how to navigate their businesses effectively. Physical offices have been shut down, there is a dearth of resources, and engaging and acquiring customers is becoming increasingly troublesome. Marketing teams are particularly struggling to reach their targets.
In the times of crisis, the businesses that can adapt itself quickly to the changing scenarios are the ones that not only survive but also flourish. COVID-19 pandemic is still far from over and it’s high time businesses rethink their marketing strategies, evaluating the sensitivity of the situation and the needs of their target audience.
Here are 6 important areas to focus on for making effective changes to your marketing strategies during COVID-19 or any other crisis.
- Get Your Crisis Management Team Working
Having a crisis management team is essential because a crisis can hit a business anytime, whether they are prepared or not. The team should ideally have a few executive members and some marketing people. If you interact with the media on a regular basis, you also need to have in-house spokespersons that can handle various queries from people. A crisis management team, in addition to swiftly developing strategies to cope with the situation, also takes care of the communication that goes out to the public.
- Analyze Situations and Possibilities
Evaluate the market and the possibilities that may have opened up in times of crisis. Understand how the crisis is impacting the businesses and the stakeholders. Communicating with your stakeholders, including your investors, vendors, suppliers, etc, is extremely important. Also, to keep your marketing efforts fruitful, prepare statements and response modules for multiple possible situations so you can communicate in a timely manner. Your company statements should include the crisis scenarios and the measures your brand is taking to deal with them. Being action oriented and compassionate is the key.
- Take Care of Your Employees
In a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic where the operations are highly disrupted and there is panic and misinformation among people, especially in the initial stages, it’s important to protect your employees. This can be done by making commute to the office optional and using technology to support work and communication virtually. Reducing working hours is also an option. Create a company portal where your employees can find relevant information and updated work policies. To keep up the business efforts in times of crisis, it’s important to take care of your employees and help them carry out their work in a safe and convenient manner.
- Create Contingency Plans for Marketing
Having a good communication policy isn’t enough in times of crisis when the consumer behavior is unpredictable and the market is volatile. Assessing the market behavior and making short and long-term predictions based on it can help you strategize your marketing during a crisis and beyond. Also, work with your suppliers and vendors to keep your supply chain unharmed. Developing such contingency plans may require reallocation of budgets based on the priorities of marketing activities.
- Choose Effective Communication Channels
Selecting the right channel for communication is crucial. Delivering information to customers as well as your employees regarding crisis and how your organization is managing it must be done in an effective way. It’s important to let people know you care. Connect with publications and media houses to communicate your plans and address the rumors, if there are any. Make a good use of social media platforms and emails to stay connected with your stakeholders. Focus more on social listening and reach out to your customers to address their complaints, queries and feedbacks. Also, encourage them to voice their needs in times of crisis and let them know how you’re trying to resolve their issues.
- Focus on Alternate Means to Serve Your Customers
The worst hit industries amid the COVID-19 pandemic are hospitality, retail and SMBs. Many businesses are facing severe restrictions on their operations. It’s important to generate new marketing ideas during crisis. Many businesses now have adapted to alternate ways of working which are even getting them good ROI. For instance, many events have been cancelled and the organizers are now conducting virtual events using technology. Even retails are focussing more on e-commerce. There are always alternate ways in which a business can operate and in times of crisis it’s vital to look for and embrace them without wasting time.
It’s also important to note that every business is unique in its own way and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, focusing on these 6 areas can help you make the right changes to your marketing efforts before you lose resources and time.
What changes have you made to your marketing strategies? Please share your ideas in the comment section below.