In the midst of the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic, many companies may be facing uncertainty around their advertising and public relations strategies. With changing budgets, staffing and environments, it is essential to foster appropriate communication between your business and your customers. Below are the five steps to crafting a suitable marketing approach during a pandemic:
- Reflect: Before creating or adjusting your marketing strategy, you first need to look at your company as a whole. Take a second to sit down with trusted leaders and colleagues to discuss the mounting situation. The coronavirus outbreak will likely affect your business in several ways and at different times, and planning for each of those is important. This may also be a good time to assess the needs of your customers and community, considering ways to give back; this could involve donating money or your services.
- Reinvent: Now that you have identified your problem and opportunity areas, you can begin the planning process. Depending on your product or service, this may not be the right time to continue your regularly scheduled advertisements. In fact, doing so may position your company negatively. Creating a new communication format takes time and care, so do not rush. Additionally, knowing when to communicate is vital. Consumers do not want to be bombarded with information, but they do want to hear from their trusted companies.
- Reassure: More than anything, consumers want to know that your company is here for them. Take the time to connect with your customers and address their concerns. Tread carefully, however, to avoid spreading any misinformation. There is no need to add to any preexisting panic. One way to comfort your audience is to shift focus from the prestige of your services to their quality and safety.
- Relay: Once you have reassured your audience, you can lay out your plan of action. Inform consumers of all the necessary steps you are taking to stop the spread: limited hours of availability, sanitization efforts, reduced staffing, any donations/volunteer actions you decided to make, etc. Transparency is key, so do not leave out any critical information.
- Repeat: Finally, after publicizing initial statements, you should evaluate and repeat this process. Due to the rapidly changing nature of a pandemic, remaining communicative and adaptive is important to your marketing procedure. Review which steps of the process did and did not work, learn from that data, and continue creating content that helps position your company as a calm, confident and collaborative partner in this unprecedented time. In the end, flexibility and resilience is what your company will be remembered for.