The short answer to this question is yes. But, if you feel uncomfortable marketing during a pandemic, you might be wondering why marketing is still important in the current climate.
Before I continue, it’s important to remember that right now, the world sucks for everyone. We’re all in challenging places and situations and we may be anxious about the direction the world is heading in. There’s nothing wrong with feeling that way.
But those feelings shouldn’t damage your business.
Businesses provide crucial jobs. They also provide people with income. That income gives them money they can spend on necessities and nice to haves, both of which help to keep economies afloat.
Those businesses will only make money if they keep marketing, though.
They should most definitely take a different approach than they used to—which we’ll look at in a moment—but they shouldn’t forget to market completely.
Pipelines simply don’t fill themselves. If you stop marketing, you stop reaching your audience. That means a smaller pipeline, fewer sales, and less revenue. It puts your business—and therefore your future—in jeopardy.
Of course, there’s a right and a wrong way to market your business right now.
One thing the pandemic has done it demonstrate the businesses (and entrepreneurs) that are out for themselves, and those that genuinely care about the communities that they’re a part of.
How can you demonstrate that in your business? Let’s take a look…
How to market effectively in a pandemic
Stop talking about yourself
Frankly this is a bad way to market in any situation, but it’s even more insensitive right now.
Your marketing shouldn’t focus on you or your business. It should focus on how you can help your customer.
What advice can you share that’s related to your product, service, or industry? How can your customer adapt their own practices during a pandemic? How can you reassure them about your business and its reliability during this time?
Always focus on how they perceive the world (and how they perceive you), and not how you think you’re perceived.
If you’re not sure, ask them! Send a survey and ask your audience how they feel about your brand. It helps to do this anonymously as people are far more likely to be honest. You can’t do follow-up questions this way, so make sure the questions you ask are in-depth and get you the answers you need, not the answers you want.
There’s nothing worse than tone-deaf comments. All they do is isolate potential customers and make current customers less likely to come back.
For instance, Joss Stone–while talking from her house in the Bahamas—recently remarked that she thought the UK government had done loads to help the arts during the pandemic. Excuse me while I choke on my own laughter. (For context, they’ve mostly ignored the arts. Even now they’ve offered very little support. Several smaller theatres have had to close permanently due to lack of support and revenue.)
Her appearance on GMB was supposed to promote her new podcast all about happiness, but her lack of understanding of what was going on in most people’s lives totally backfired.
Yes, perspective is important, as she said. But no, it isn’t always as simple as ‘just be happy’. That’s insensitive, over simplistic, and inaccurate.
The actual problem was her perspective and lack of understanding. She had no idea what life was actually like for her target audience back home in the UK. All it would’ve taken was a little bit of research on social media to show her, but she was too happy in her bubble to bother.
No matter how great your bubble is, if you’re selling something to someone, you need to know what their life is like right now. Not only that, but truly understand it. Then you can create content that continues to resonate with them.
I know you’re probably in business to help people already. But this is being helpful on a whole new level. It’s textiles factories pivoting to make face masks for the NHS; it’s plastics manufacturers pivoting to create perspex screens or visors. It’s anything you can do to help your target audience (and maybe beyond them depending on the direction you pivot in). And if it’s a new source of income? Well, that’s even better!
The companies that pivoted in any way they could not only saved the government money because they didn’t need to furlough people (or as many people), but they also fulfilled vital services and generated money. This kind of approach is a win for everyone.
Too many businesses underestimate the value of being entertaining. There’s nothing else more likely to put a smile on someone’s face, though. And that’s something we all need more of right now.
If it fits your brand, share a funny meme, crack a joke, or make fun of yourself. People love it when brands make fun of themselves as it makes them feel more human. Just so long as you’re not making fun of yourself to the point of being mean. There’s a fine line between a joke and a dig.
People are bored and want entertainment. If your brand can provide that on its blog, on social media, in emails, or even on all three, people are more likely to keep coming back regardless of what your product or service is.
Don’t mention the coronavirus!
We all know it’s here. We all know it isn’t going anywhere. Most of us are fed up of hearing about it. So don’t belabour the point.
Mention it if it’s relevant, and adapt your business practices to suit it, but don’t mention it just because it’s there.
It’s no more important to mention at this point than the full stop at the end of a sentence. It’s a fact. We’re stuck with it. People want to be distracted from it. Bringing it up constantly in your marketing materials doesn’t help anyone.
If anything, it will just mean that people associate your business with the negative feelings the coronavirus gives them. And those negative feelings are definitely not what you want if you’re trying to get people to spend money with you.
Marketing will always be an important aspect of any business. Content marketing will become increasingly important as consumers do more and more of their own research before contacting brands to make a purchase.
Having content that nurtures prospects in the same way that a salesperson can is therefore vital to keeping your pipeline filled.
Adapting your marketing tactics to fit the current climate is more important than ever, too. This is what will help you to continue to connect with your prospects, increase your audience, and show society that you really are in it for more than just the money (even if your decisions end up generating you more money).
Being in business to make money is great, but in the current climate, it’s businesses with clear missions and values that are going to stand out to customers, job candidates, and the media.