The Dos and Don’ts of Marketing During a Global Crisis

You probably didn’t realize the amount of emails you had to unsubscribe from until you saw the COVID-19 statements come in from every business you’ve ever interacted with. It seems like every company put out a message regarding safety and health in relation to COVID-19 and their business processes. This poses a few questions for a lot of businesses:

  1. Do I need to put out a coronavirus statement?
  2. What do I say?
  3. How do I avoid making it sound like I’m trying to enhance my online sales during this scary and uncertain time?

The answer is that there isn’t a perfect example or template to follow during an unprecedented emergency crisis like this. However, it is clear what you should do and not do during a pandemic and how your actions will potentially affect your business.

The DOs & DON’Ts

DO release a statement if your business and customers are going to be directly affected by the coronavirus, especially if there are government orders or precautions put in place by the national government.

DON’T send a statement when it’s not needed. If it does not affect your business directly, don’t address it. Creating additional noise on social media may leave a negative impression.

DO provide information that reassures your customers that your business is taking measures to ensure the safety and health of anyone who walks through your doors. This is especially important for grocery stores and restaurants. People want to know that if they come to your business, it is being properly sanitized and cleaned on a regular basis, that there won’t be crowds of people putting them at high risk for exposure, and overall that you are taking preventative measures to ensure that you are thinking of their safety.

DON’T offer reassurances about processes or steps your business is taking due to the effects of coronavirus if you aren’t sure what those are. Make sure you take the time to craft your message, as this is a very sensitive situation. Think about how your audience will react to your message to avoid any negative feedback (especially if you are posting this on social media), and make sure you are clear and that the actions you plan to take are concrete and feasible.

DO be aware that this is a serious global crisis—even if your opinions on the crisis are different from others. You should treat this as a serious outbreak that could cost the lives of hundreds of thousands to millions of people. As a business, you should address the situation full on and don’t brush over it as if it will all blow over soon. You cannot be certain of the future.

DON’T use this as a marketing opportunity. Don’t try to run new campaigns and jump on the bandwagon. Consider what your audience will say if you try to run a new campaign in relation to the crisis. It could potentially give your business a bad image.

DO send updates in regards to important information about your business, for example, if you are an online retailer and are running low on products and don’t know when they will be restocked, or if one of your locations or branches may be closing.

An excellent example of an organization handling updates well is KC Pet Project. They are a non-profit organization operating the Kansas City animal shelters. Since the outbreak, they have been giving regular daily updates on the precautions they’re taking and information about their animals and shelters on a separate landing page. This is one of the best ways to make sure your customers know the most updated information.

DON’T send unnecessary updates. If your message hasn’t changed since the last time you sent an update, there’s no need to send another. Focus on quality over quantity! You are only creating more noise, and it could potentially cause your customers to ignore your important messages in the future.

DO be patient and stay calm if the coronavirus pandemic has affected your store traffic. As has happened with past crises, businesses will struggle for a while, even if the virus slows down. Your business may struggle for a time to make up losses, but that’s OK! You’re in good company; most businesses have been affected, too.

For example, thus far:

  • In China, the virus caused retail sales to drop by 20.5%, and the unemployment rate jumped up to 6.2 in February. (Bloomberg)
  • The travel industry is expected to lose 820 billion dollars. Virgin Atlantic just asked their staff to take an eight-week unpaid leave to make up for it. (CNBC/Axios)
  • It’s estimated that in total, COVID-19 will cost the global economy $2.7 trillion.

The most important takeaway from this is that communication is more important than ever. iFocus Marketing is here to help you create those personal statements to your audience and guide you through an updated or brand-new marketing strategy for the time being. Our team is ready to assist you in any way that we can and would be honored to do it, too.

Stay safe and healthy!

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