Change Your Marketing Message in a Time of Crisis to Survive
‘Einstein said doing something over and over again expecting a different result, is the definition of insanity.’
It is surely insanity to think your old marketing messages and advertising can remain unchanged at this time. If you shake your head when you watch the ads reflecting business as usual, consider how your customers may react to your stale or unrealistic messaging or ads.
During the COVID-19 global pandemic crisis businesses are being thrown monumental marketing challenges they have never faced. As a knee-jerk reaction company, you may opt to cut marketing all together as a cost and expense control measures which will cripple their business further. Worst yet, are those companies that keep ads running, and don’t make the necessary changes to their messaging to reflect the current times. Both options are certain to doom companies because neither strategy deals with the current situation in a proactive way. These companies, in panic mode, are cutting off their business pipelines for future sales.
All businesses, during these extraordinary times, should consider radically different marketing and sales approaches for their business. Even with localized lockdowns or government mandates for temporary business shutdowns, most businesses can find ways to continue to serve their customers even if it is just through consistent and transparent communications, including the proper shifts in their messaging.
Businesses shouldn’t be resigned to simply cutting all ties with customers and prospects and hope that when the crisis is over, they can magically resurrect their business from the void. If customers have found alternative options, or have found ways to survive without a company’s product or services, those businesses are likely to vanish, forever.
Even if business as usual, has been dramatically altered for a company, maintaining ties with their customers and focusing messaging appropriately will go a long way in curbing the effects of the impending economic downturn. Customers may not be searching for or be unable to get your products at this time, but it is still critical to remain visible and relevant.
Here are some marketing activities to consider investing or continuing during this crisis.
- Keep a strong SEO strategy to enhance site visibility.
Maintaining a strong SEO strategy will help keep your business visible and accessible during a crisis. Even if you can no longer deliver products or services in the same way, an operating and useful website can be your lifeline to consumers. SEO enhancements can be simple plug-ins or simple changes like updating descriptions and tagging images to help your content be more readily accessible.
- Create new content to increase your brand’s trustworthiness.
FAQs and tips sheets add value for your customers and potential consumers. Now is the time to increase not only the quantity of the new content you produce but focusing on the quality of the content. Being transparent about how the crisis is affecting your business and how you are caring for your employees helps build the value of your organization. Be regular and consistent with your audience so they come to expect updates and news. Social Media live sessions, recorded video segments, and daily blogging will keep your audience engaged and involved.
- Add quality backlinks to connect your organization to other authoritative sources.
Within the content, you create, include backlinks to authoritative sources.
“Content is undoubtedly king, and in the current digital marketing climate, unique and value-centered content is perhaps the best tool for anyone doing SEO. If you are both putting forth solid content that drives value for the user and you are including relevant and well-aged backlinks throughout your content, you’re on the right track.” (Schubert, 19) (https://www.simpletiger.com/blog/what-are-high-quality-backlinks)
- Shift marketing spends from traditional channels to digital options.
If traditional radio, TV, and print have been your go-to advertising and marketing methods, consider shifting budgets instead of suspending all marketing altogether. Moving resources and budget to a digital display, social media, and online pay-per-click channels may be a better way to keep your business relevant to current and potential customers. Google AdWords, Facebook Ads and Posts and Digital displays can keep your business visible. Increasing Direct mail and email marketing efforts should be considered to augment marketing during this time.
- Adjust your message and CTAs (calls-to-action) to fit the times and circumstances.
If your ad messaging doesn’t reflect the changes in the marketplace environment your business will feel inauthentic and out of touch. If your message doesn’t shift in tone, acknowledging the current shift in real-life situations, the company’s trustworthiness can be negatively impacted. Your message should shift to provide consumer information that will help them through the crisis and what you are doing differently to serve your constituencies.
In this visual age, ensuring your images match the tone and content of your marketing is also critical. Using old and outdated imagery or imagery that doesn’t fit the times, leads audiences to dismiss and ignore your messaging.
“In crises, you have a unique opportunity to be relevant and original with your content. Take the time and devote the resources to create timely and informed content. Ramp up your writers and challenge them to create content with unique perspectives and emails that are craved by your uncertain and fearful customers” (Rice, 2020) https://kaleidico.com/cmo-crisis-guide/.
Back in 2009, as the world faced the effects of the great recession, The Harvard Business Review, John Quelch and Katherine E. Jocz crafted a great road map How to Market in a Downturn https://hbr.org/2009/04/how-to-market-in-a-downturn-2 for businesses facing an unprecedented economic time. While circumstances are different and the COVID 19 crisis could be even more devastating that the recession, the principals put forth are sound and still apply.
Understanding consumer psychology and making adjustments now is critical. “Marketers should prepare now for a possible long-term shift in consumers’ values and attitudes” (Qulech & Jocz, 2009). This includes considering the following;
- Tailor advertising and Marketing tactics to match the current conditions
- Budget allocations and shifts to utilize new channels for our messaging
- Focus on the long-term outcome by altering short-term marketing adjustments
- Look for unexpected opportunities to deliver products and services differently
- Consider streamlining your product/service portfolio to maximize efficiencies and deliver what customer need now
- Investigate ways to improve affordability for your consumers
- Bolster trust by altering your communication cadence and messaging
Ultimately, changing the way you market your business isn’t an option at this point. Now is the time to position your organization as a compassionate, thoughtful, and value-based organization. Providing your customers and prospect added education, news, and information to make their lives easier or more secure will position your organization in a better light. Even if your traditional methods aren’t realistic, by being candid and transparent of how you are dealing with the new circumstances will show your consumers that you care and are working on solutions.
Shifts and pivots have to happen now. It is time to take the blinders off and prepare to change how and when you market to keep as much of your business alive as you can until this crisis subsides.