Continue marketing under #lockdown
by Sue Parker-Smith. It seems absurd to continue to market your business when customers cannot access your goods and services, but there is long term value in continuing elements of your marketing communications during the COVID-19 lockdown.Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020
by Sue Parker-Smith. It seems absurd to continue to market your business when customers cannot access your goods and services, but there is long term value in continuing elements of your marketing communications during the COVID-19 lockdown. Amongst other things, a brand is built on awareness, trust, relationships and communities.
This is an opportunity to reach out to your customers, build your relationship with them and most importantly, to stay top of mind, so that when things return to normal, you have a headstart. Here are five tips for strategic marketing and PR during the lockdown:
1. Communicate your situation: In a crisis, it is crucial to inform your stakeholders about what is happening, how it affects you, how you are dealing with it and what they should expect. Depending on your business, consider what you need to tell your customers, and how you should be updating them as the lockdown progresses. Send out newsletters to your databases and update your communities through your social media channels and don’t forget to include the media channels by sending out media releases. Video messages are a powerful means of talking to your stakeholders. Show empathy, convey a sense of, “we are in this together and we care”.
2. Be helpful: What can you offer your customers now to help them deal with the crisis? You can use your communication channels (social media, media publicity, website, email, sms, etc) to give your customers helpful advice or tips to stay safe, healthy, deal with the challenges of lockdown, or educate them about other aspects of the crisis. Arrange to be interviewed on radio and television or submit an informative article to the media for publication. If it is appropriate you can offer free classes, business webinars or educational information sessions (live sessions/prerecorded videos). Use tools such as Facebook Live, Zoom, You Tube, Skype or Webex.
3. Give back to the community: Consumers like brands that clearly care for the community and environment. What can your business do to help the less fortunate in this crisis. Donate to a relevant cause or give product to alleviate hardship. Share your gestures through your communication channels and even call on your customers and clients to join you in contributing.
4. Be sociable: You may not be able to see your customers and clients, but you can maintain a virtual relationship with them. Use your social media channels and send out emailers to stay in touch. Use the ongoing media channels to share valuable content – they will also be short of stories and will value pertinent, useful content. Consider what you can share with them – they will be hearing an awful lot about the lockdown and COVID-19. What about communicating interesting, educational or entertaining content to them. You could share your experiences and insights during the lockdown, but aim to keep the content positive and hopeful. As a brand you can play a key role in inspiring people to be community minded, strong and to pull together as a nation.
5. Talk to the future: Focus on what is coming after lockdown – long term industry trends, new products, new seasons, offer discounts for long term bookings or purchases. You can inspire your customers now, so they start to plan for the post lockdown recovery.
Communicating with your stakeholders now keeps you top of mind, but moreover, it makes your customers feel that you are stable, and supportive through a crisis.
Susan Parker-Smith owns Catalyst Communications, a boutique marketing & PR agency. With postgraduate qualifications in communications, PR and marketing, Parker-Smith has over 25 years of experience across all aspects of PR / communications, in the sports, retail, financial, education, health, tourism and environmental sectors. Prior to starting Catalyst, she worked in marketing & PR in government, media and corporate environments; and is also a part-time lecturer in PR, social media and brand communications, in the Film & Media Studies Department at UCT. An avid traveller, writer and photographer, Parker-Smith also has her own travel and environmental blogs.
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