Under unusual circumstances like a global pandemic, it can seem like business growth is somewhat out of our hands. Those businesses that are internet-based or are already contact-free may be booming; but other “non-essential” businesses that rely on face-to-face interaction or having customers come to a physical storefront have had to press pause. They face losing income, and they may already be hurting, even facing closure in some cases. But take heart. There are some things you can do now to set yourself up for growth once things start to return to “normal.” As regular day-to-day operations are on hold, many business owners have taken the time to double down on marketing efforts and reevaluate their brand stories. The only trouble is that marketing to any audience right now can feel a bit like walking on eggshells.
We’re all aware of what’s going on in the world. We’re bombarded by news, data, and opinions on an hourly basis. So, bringing up COVID-19 and social distancing can feel a little like beating a dead horse. On the other hand, you don’t want to appear tone deaf by going about your marketing as usual. Spring ad campaigns you were planning a few months ago, for example, could be totally inappropriate or irrelevant for the time being.
The key is to set yourself up now so you can see growth post-quarantine. New opportunities often arise through times of hardship, especially when you’re forced to get creative. Take a look at what’s changed in the world and ask yourself how you can get ahead of the curve.
Adapt to the “New Normal.”
This is the time to be proactive, not reactive. Don’t sit around waiting to see what will happen once your business is allowed to return to normal operations and regular hours. You have to keep marketing yourself through the hard times to see growth in the good times. How can you market your business if you can’t provide the product or service you offer right away? For one, you can push gift cards. Offer incentives for people to buy gift cards now that they can use when you reopen. For example, you might offer customers who buy a $50 gift card an additional $10.
Spend some time now getting your marketing plan hyper-organized. Create a content calendar and start a database of preplanned content you can use later when things are busy. Plan your ad campaigns in advance (leaving room for adjustment in case things change again). Organizing your marketing efforts and ideas now will make things easier and faster when it’s time to act.
Don’t be tone deaf.
We mentioned this above, but it’s worth diving into further. Remember that this is actually a traumatic thing we’re going through. No one wants to see aggressive selling. They want compassion, an understanding that while we may not all be in the same boat, we’re at least in our own little boats on the same ocean, facing the same squall. At the same time, there are others who have grown disenchanted with the whole “we’re all in this together” sentiment. Be mindful of how you present your brand to your audience. Be respectful of how people are feeling. Just don’t be cliché.
Stay relevant through interaction and entertainment.
Some brands are doing an amazing job of keeping themselves in the public’s eye through fun interactions and entertainment. People are bored. They’re spending more time than ever on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok… Get creative and stay top of mind by helping to entertain them. You might post some fun games, create some memes that are relevant to your brand, film a demo (or do a Live video), host a virtual trivia night, or conduct a virtual class. There are so many ways you can still interact with your audience and remind them about your brand without being too aggressive.
Find out how you can help.
This is a time of need for a lot of people. Some have lost their jobs. Some are completely shut in due to underlying medical conditions and have no one to help them out. Some just can’t find simple items like toilet paper, household cleaners, and face masks to wear when they have to go out. How can you help your audience? Do you have a surplus or an untapped source of something you can donate? Do you have extra time to do some grocery shopping or errands for the elderly or immunocompromised? Can you manufacture something to help healthcare workers or the public in general? Find a way to help. It feels wonderful to give and do for others. And it doesn’t hurt that your audience will remember who was there for them when it mattered.
Look for white space in your industry.
This is the perfect time to evaluate your industry. Look for white space in what your brand and other similar businesses provide, and find a way to fill them. Is there a market that’s underserved? Is there a certain pain point no other brand has been able to ease yet? Perhaps technology that hasn’t yet been developed? Take some time to dig deep and find ways to disrupt, fulfill unmet needs, and make a real difference in your industry.
Be creative and innovative in your marketing efforts now, and you’re sure to reap the benefits once the current quarantine is in our collective rearview mirror.