Coronavirus Economic Impact: How the Current Crisis Is Changing the World of Marketing
And why a smart digital marketing strategy is more important than ever
We’ve yet to fully grasp the long-term economic impact and consequences of the Coronavirus outbreak.
With reductions in workforce, many small businesses temporarily shuttering their doors and consumers (mostly) hunkered down in their homes, the cuts are sure to be deep – though how deep, and how lasting that damage will ultimately be, is anyone’s guess.
But one thing is for certain: to make it through this crisis intact, local businesses must not only face some difficult choices, but must also be willing to adapt, particularly when it comes to protecting their brands and building a marketing strategy that resonates through and beyond such trying times.
Coronavirus economic impact: Forever changing how we connect with consumers
With people’s lives upended, and companies and industries under duress, Coronavirus’ impact on the economy is undeniable, leaving many business owners wondering what it’ll take to make it to the other side.
And as conferences, trade shows and other public outreach events are being postponed or cancelled at a staggering rate across the country, one question many managers and marketers are scrambling to answer is how to stay relevant and in touch with customers – how to remain in people’s minds without displaying insensitivity or creating unwanted controversy.
So, what IS the answer? Are there marketing best practices to follow during such difficulty? How exactly does your company and marketing team pivot during the Coronavirus crisis to ensure your brand stays visible – and to do so without seeming insensitive, opportunistic or both?
1. First, don’t roll over
As the financial crisis of 2008 neared its peak, so did the panic of many companies and business leaders across the country. The result was a nearly across-the-board reduction in marketing budgets and outreach efforts by businesses big and small, a reaction producing an oversized impact on firms with already limited resources and recovery power.
And while the 2008 crisis and its effect on businesses aren’t nearly the same as the coronavirus outbreak and its economic impact, they can help illustrate why automatic budget cuts may not, in fact, offer the right solution to the current situation.
Though it may seem the best thing to do (and, admittedly, it isn’t always avoidable), a major trim to your marketing budget may actually work against your brand, scaling back the outreach you need to maintain brand awareness and recognition through and long after the crisis is over.
Refocusing your marketing strategy rather than pulling everything back is key to keeping your brand name in the public sphere, ensuring you’re not completely submerged in the wake of the COVID-19 calamity. Finding new ways to stay relevant and visible helps buoy your business during such crises and prevent the need for a complete marketing rebuild once things return to normal (think long-term).
2. Take time to review your approach
The cancellation of most public events in March, April and beyond eliminates numerous traditional and experiential marketing channels for businesses across the U.S., removing what were potentially invaluable opportunities to cultivate interaction and engagement with your brand.
On the other hand, it’s also likely freed up a bit of time and money to revisit other elements of your outreach efforts, not the least of which is your digital marketing strategy.
With many traditional marketing efforts on hiatus, shifting that excess energy and budget to improving your online brand may offer the best solution for keeping your business fresh, relevant and in plain sight, regardless of the coronavirus economic impact.
Now may be the perfect time to review and refine what defines your brand on the web, including:
- Your website. Using the extra time to correct messaging inconsistencies, loading speeds, and user experience (UX) hiccups helps strengthen your online foundation and better position your site across local search results.
- Your content strategy. Having your team brainstorm and research ideas for building new blog posts, newsletters and guest articles can be a constructive way to sharpen your content marketing and optimize your digital footprint.
- Your SEO. Search engine optimization is what drives organic growth and gets your brand noticed in search. Reevaluating your approach to SEO may help identify opportunities you’re missing and beef up your presence for important industry queries.
- Your PPC. Putting more effort into reviewing your paid advertising strategy may be exactly what you need to root out channels that aren’t working and reinforce the PPCs already delivering results.
- Your social presence. Isolation and self-quarantining have made social media the central hub for people to communicate, share info and stay connected through the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, now may be the right time to re-analyze your social strategy and put more resources into creating a more social-ready brand.
The fear and uncertainty resulting from the current crisis has brought many business leaders to a crossroads in terms of how or even if they should keep outreach efforts moving forward. While circumstances and need vary by company, we believe adapting to a more digital-based approach and revitalizing your existing digital framework can be an effective way to keep your marketing team focused, your brand above water and your business better prepared for the post-coronavirus economy.
3. Tread carefully, and be empathetic
In a time when direct public interaction is virtually impossible, shifting to a stronger web-based marketing strategy can help protect your brand, your employees and your customers while making the best of a bad situation.
But as you migrate more of your efforts to digital and build your message online, it’s critical to tread carefully.
While you want to keep your brand afloat and stay in the conversation, laying it on too strong, too salesy or completely off-pitch during a global pandemic may not only come across as tone deaf, but could potentially do more harm than good – creating serious or even irreparable damage that only compounds the coronavirus economic impact on your company.
Remember: consumers, businesses and entire industries are all feeling the strain of the COVID-19 epidemic, the aftereffects of which may be felt for quite some time.
People are losing their jobs, businesses are struggling and many if not most are solely focused on the health and safety of their loved ones. Failing to appreciate the gravity of that impact or demonstrate any understanding or empathy in your outreach – particularly in a pressurized economic environment – could backfire in a big way for your brand and reputation.
Here are some digital marketing don’ts and dos to keep in mind during the coronavirus pandemic:
- Disappear. People are spending more time online right now than ever. Scaling back your marketing efforts altogether equals a missed opportunity to engage your audience, maintain brand relevance and insert your brand into the conversation.
- Conduct business as usual. While it’s hard to imagine anyone carrying on like normal right now, companies attempting to do business as usual – and without a sense of what’s going on around them – are likely to get an online earful, if not worse.
- Ignore the crisis. Failure to address COVIC-19 on any digital marketing platform sends a strange signal to consumers struggling to deal with its wide-ranging consequences.
- Frame yourself as the solution. It may seem obvious, but positioning your brand as an answer to the current crisis reeks of opportunism and will likely reflect poorly on your brand.
- Go heavy on push marketing. Too much “Buy Now!” messaging may start to ring hollow at a time when many are lacking the confidence to make nonessential purchases.
- Be social. Finding creative ways to connect on social helps personalize your brand and stay engaged with your local community – and provides a potential pipeline to your sales funnel.
- Be genuine. Your messaging should reflect your understanding of the situation, its severity and how (to some extent) the coronavirus economic impact has affected your business.
- Provide information. Posting a press release or webpage that outlines how you’re protecting employees, consumers and the community provides reassurance while demonstrating where your priorities lie.
- Offer help. Tips-based newsletters and blog posts for coping with COVID-19 challenges offer real-time value to people adjusting to life in lockdown.
- Stay the course. It can be hard sometimes, but maintaining your focus and finding ways to keep your brand on people’s minds during such turbulent times can make the transition back to ‘normalcy’ just a little bit smoother.
Careful planning and a nuanced message strategy are digital marketing musts in a period of unprecedented crisis.
Repositioning your business from service provider to a resource of support can help endear your brand to an online audience seeking respite in a challenging time. It helps ensure you’re cultivating the awareness and recognition your business will need once things start to settle.
4. Seek help when needed
The social, economic and societal impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be felt across the country and around the world. And while the true size and scope are yet to be known, this crisis looks to be a factor in how we live, do business, communicate and engage with our local communities for the foreseeable future.
But even with self-isolation and social distancing becoming the new normal, maintaining brand visibility doesn’t have to be something you take on by yourself.
At Reputation Sciences™, we remain committed to providing the same high-level ORM and digital marketing services, solutions and support you need to protect your brand and control the online conversation. We leverage compelling data to customize the digital strategy you need to be your best on the web – and build the trust and brand awareness needed to stand out from the competition.