Organizations of all sizes are assessing and processing the social and economic impact of COVID-19. Marketing and advertising plans are coming to a screeching halt in some ways and pivoting rapidly in others. Sales and marketing teams are innovating on the fly and looking for new and different ways to communicate and engage with their customers and communities.
So how do we as business owners, marketers, thought leaders, and digital strategists lead through the uncertainty? What contingency plans should be put in place to offset or recoup revenue losses? How do we bounce back? Just like I say to my staff: “how are we going to get there?” That’s the question.
It’s a question that’s been on my mind. Here are a few thoughts:
- Identify internal stakeholders across the organization to lead the company through the crisis. Don’t focus on title when selecting your team. Focus on your digital thought leaders, your innovators, your creative thinkers. We’re in a transformational time, lean into your talent (from a safe distance of course).
- Centralize your communication strategy. Consistency in message and approach is critical, both internally and externally. Align your PR, Digital, Social, and HR teams. Together, map out your message, your frequency of content, and the owners and leaders.
- Focus on empathy and authenticity instead of creating selling opportunities. Think about how to connect with your audience on a more personalized level. We will bounce back – now is the time to establish long lasting relationships with your customers. Win their hearts and minds.
- Communicate with your customers regularly and often. Let them know what to expect from your organization, how to engage with you, and check in on them. Remember, we’re human. Just because we’re behind a screen, it doesn’t mean we aren’t all interconnected and navigating together.
And don’t aim for perfection. Aim for connection. While doing that, prioritize new technology and digital platforms. A few examples:
- If you were planning to launch a new product at an event, double down on digital distribution, i.e. display, search, and video content to demo your product and educate your audience on new capabilities.
- If you’re looking to drive brand engagement, think about new organic opportunities for folks to interact with your brand. Parents are at home logging in to work, carrying a full workload, and also finding ways to keep their children busy 9-5. Hashtag challenges? Crowd-sourced content of other types? Encourage the entire family to participate.
- Build your online community. Engage on all social media platforms and focus on a two-way dialogue with your audience. Get their feedback. Now is a great opportunity to listen, enhance, and evolve your go to market strategy.
- Launch an email marketing campaign to communicate to your existing customers regularly and often. Do make sure every piece of content adds value. There’s a saying in advertising: “act like a butler not a stalker.”
Re-calibrate your KPIs, OKRs, benchmarks or whatever mile marker you’re using. What metrics are most important to your business right now, and how do they inform what you should do in the next 30-60 days? What is the data telling you about your customers? It’s okay to admit that it’s different now. Innovate your metrics.
Remember, we’re in this together. We will come out better and stronger. Now is the time to explore new possibilities, to take a step back and get creative. Yes, we must all wash our hands – but we must also consider how we adapt to the future. The Coronavirus is showing us that connectivity and outreach in the digital space will continue becoming central to smart brands.