Marketing during COVID-19

As a global pandemic sweeps large parts of our world, one could be forgiven for not having their new marketing strategy or business pivot plan at the top of their agenda. We are collectively experiencing some form of anxiety to one degree or another, with our systems on constant, low-level 'limbic alert'.

That being said, this extreme situation provides an excellent re-framing challenge for entrepreneurs out there. Talk about business agility and quickly adapting; we've seen offline D2C brands take their offering online and created virtual education programme. And whilst most startups have been hit hard recently, there are still opportunities in certain categories that are flourishing during this time - like healthcare, DIY / interiors, home entertainment, and software companies.

If your business doesn’t fall into any of these categories and an online pivot just isn’t viable for you, we’ve seen firsthand how many entrepreneurs are taking this opportunity to re-group, re-strategise, go back to the drawing board, and use this time to work on core areas of the business - tasks that have been pushed to the bottom of the to-do list where, in the past, the urgent has always taken over the important. This means spending time looking at the tech, making improvements, doing bug fixes, deeper competitor analysis… All the things you simply wouldn’t have the luxury of doing during usual working life.

The other area that the most strategic of entrepreneurs are raising up the to-do list is their marketing. A vital business function that’s had more of a spotlight shone in the past few weeks, as business owners know this is a priority decision if they want to see their business not only weather this storm, but come out the other end stronger and better than before.

Read on for your ultimate marketing guide for navigating and succeeding during COVID-19 for your startup business, or even your own personal brand:

Express your empathy and sensitivity to the matter at hand

Offer help and show people that you are part of the solution, rather than the problem. There are a myriad of ways you can go about this, for example:

Share valuable resources

Like financial support available for freelancers or employees, best practices for working from home, how to balance homeschooling and remote working, guides on how to create a successful webinar, or even charities/funds for donations. Think about what your customers are experiencing, and there will be relevant help available to support them during this time.

Be there for the community

Honestly demonstrate what you’re going through, too. Whether it’s the real struggles of having the kids at home, what it emotionally feels like to be furloughed, or the simple lighthearted confusion over what day of the week it is now all time feels the same!

Comic Relief

On the lighthearted note, boldly consider providing people with the much-needed comic relief they need during these strange times. Apps like TikTok and HouseParty have exploded, not to mention the onslaught of virtual parties and weirdly viral Tiger King (?) People are social creatures by nature, and it’s wonderful to see the ways that humans have still managed to find ways to have fun and enjoy themselves (together but apart) during our quarantine. Share fun videos, relatable memes, or simply silly content to bring a smile to people’s faces.

(Of course, this is heavily caveatted by firstly proceeding with caution - this is still a delicate matter and comedy at the best of times can be tricky to navigate - and only consider this route if it fits with your brand. At my agency, Bloom, some of our clients are in the luxury brand positioning, where this sort of tact simply wouldn’t work).

Involve your customers!

We all know engagement is everything, but this metric is so much more than that during this time; engagement levels are a byproduct of the opportunity you have to directly converse and interact with your community. According to influencer platform, Fohr nearly 80% of influencers have reported higher engagement from their followers over the past couple of weeks. People are online more now, with average screen time up by 18%, so your captive audience is there for you - as long as you are hitting the right notes and striking the correct tone in all your output.

Get creative

We’ve seen some fantastic examples of brand marketing from the most unexpected places. Take, for example, US-based athletic fashion brand, Gymshark, who have temporarily re-branded to Homeshark, as a reminder to all their followers and customers to stay at home during this virus outbreak. The narrative for all their content now is around home workouts and humour around gyms finally re-opening.

A few final takeaways for you to remember, above all else:

  • Knowing your audience is vital in marketing at the best of times - now is your opportunity to rise to the challenge and foster deeper, more authentic connections with your community during the crisis.
  • As we spend more time on our phones and the online space gets even noisier, it’s important to offer value with your content. Bear in mind your brand essence and get creative in order to stand out from the crowd.
  • Adjust your tone of voice. Speak about the current climate in a way that shows your audience you are engaged and dedicated to being part of the solution, rather than the problem.

The resilient and agile among us will come out the other side stronger than before. See you there ;)