Seems like every update on the pandemic brings another “don’t” into our lives, and it all began with don’t touch your face. We’re now more aware than ever of the strong need to touch our face the instant we step out of the door.
By this point, we’re all familiar with our new daily don’ts—don’t forget to wash your hands for 20 seconds, don’t stand too close to the person in front of you in the checkout line, don’t bother trying to find hand sanitizer on the shelves—but what are you NOT supposed to be doing as a marketer during this time?
Let’s get into that, because knowing what not to do during a pandemic, can bring awareness to what you need to do.
The worst thing you can do at a time like this is respond out of fear or distress. It will lead to emotional decisions that could have a detrimental impact on your business.
The actions taken now will impact how things look when you’re on the other side of this pandemic.
As an initial step, educate yourself on the current environment and identify your company’s current stance within that environment. Are you accepting new business? Pivoting to offer a new product or service? Determining this will help drive your strategy and overall approach.
Work with your team to discuss solutions and communicate key messages. It’s imperative that all departments are in alignment with the messaging during this time. Ensure your team has strong communication with platforms such as Slack and Zoom.
Once your marketing message is established, brainstorm strategies for effectively communicating it to your consumers despite social distancing, shelter-in-place and quarantine situations.
During times like these you can look at it as a limitation or as an opportunity. History has shown us businesses that approach times of market uncertainty in a positive, and maybe even slightly aggressive manner, will reap huge benefits. Stay levelheaded and make prudent decisions.
Don’t think that because it worked B.C. (before COVID-19) it will work now.
It’s important for marketers to adapt and evolve with today’s climate.
Examples of items that might need a fresh look:
- How to get in front of referral sources
- How to nurture prospects and what they need to learn from you to take that next step in their buyer’s journey
- Your brand’s message
Dropping by a referral source’s place of business is no longer an option leaving many marketers scrambling to find new ways of touching base and building their relationships. With the emergence of groups and private chat conversations through social media platforms, many healthcare and eldercare professionals are turning to these as a way to stay connected and make referrals back and forth to one another.
Without in-person events and face-to-face opportunities, consider doing things virtually. Hosting an online event or sending a pre-recorded video message can be powerful ways to nurture prospects. Other items to explore in an online format could be consultations, walkthroughs/tours, assessments, online trainings and meetings.
Getting creative is one of the most essential aspects of adapting.
A good case in point, ordering a meal from a local restaurant to be delivered to a caregiver or a professional that may have been exposed or impacted by the virus. This is an excellent twist to “lunch is on you” and a thoughtful gesture to help maintain that relationship.
With social media being flooded by people posting about their #boredom, they’re looking for brands to provide them with something out of the ordinary. How can you get creative and tie a contest or giveaway into their current daily life? What can you do to entertain them while providing future value for your business? If you’re considered an essential business what can you do to comfort and help those that need your product or service? How can you go the extra mile to convenience them?
We’re being forced into a different way of doing business. It’s important to step back, take a fresh look and explore what alternatives are available to help you continue to work toward 2020 sales and marketing goals. Who knows, some of the alternative solutions might surprise you and continue in your marketing plans post COVID-19.
Times are changing and “the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new,” says Socrates.
Don’t keep your messaging the same.
If you continue to push out messaging that is not relevant in today’s world, it will fall on deaf ears.
It’s critical to let your consumers know what you’re doing as an organization and as a brand during this crisis. People want to know how you’re handling the virus with staff/residents/families. This message should be consistent across the board and applies to not only what your team is actively communicating but also your website, ads, e-newsletters and social media.
This is not a time for heavy selling. Instead, shift to a sensitive and supportive voice, for instance, “we’re all in this together” or “we’re here for you.” Ask questions such as, “Tell us how this is impacting you?” or “Is there anything we can help you with?”
This could open the door to connecting with your prospects on a level that you haven’t been able to before.
Don’t miss out on collecting and analyzing the responses you receive. The answers in this data can help formulate your future messaging and drive blog content.
In addition to your message’s tone, your method of engaging and delivering that tone is also important. For example, many brands, including the Senior Resource Guide, are putting a pause on previously scheduled social media posts to prevent from coming across as insensitive or having mixed messaging.
You want to convey an authentic and empathetic approach along with thoughtful engagement so your followers will see you as a resource and a trusted brand they can turn to.
Don’t put a hold on advertising efforts and wait until this passes.
When referrals slow down or uncertainties arise, it’s a common reaction for business owners to want to stop all advertising efforts.
On the flip side, the noise level in a brand’s market category can drop when businesses—including competitors—cut back on their ad spend.
This is the time to capitalize on there being fewer options in front of your prospects and project your business as a stable option during challenging times.
In the healthcare and eldercare industries, there are individuals who are ready now and actively searching—whether it be for themselves or a loved one—and you want your business to be ready and in front of them.
For those who have temporarily slowed down their searching, the need hasn’t gone away. They’re understandably worried or fearful. When the time is right, who will they be most likely to consider purchasing from? A business who they spent all of the pandemic learning about, familiarizing themselves with and developing trust with or a company they didn’t see or hear about at all?
Additionally, consider using this period to focus on an area you might not typically have an opportunity to fit into your marketing plan, such as branding. Focus on success stories and what makes you different from your competition. This is the time to educate the consumer on what sets you apart.
Although the natural inclination for businesses is to cut back on advertising during a downturn, brands that change their messaging and maintain a strong presence can get a long-lasting boost in sales and market share.
Now that we’ve shed some light on what not to do as a marketer during a pandemic, don’t forget it. In summary, here’s what you should be implementing: constantly educating yourself on the current environment, being open to alternative ways of meeting goals, shifting your marketing voice and taking advantage of a less crowded marketing space. Above all else, provide value…and don’t touch your face.