How do you handle marketing in times of crisis? This is a question we really haven’t thought a lot about beyond natural disasters. Traditionally, the American market deals with crises that are more focused, either in a shorter time frame or a specific part of the market receiving the impact. This year has changed that precedent. From pandemics elections, mass protests to the unfortunate riots that have emerged from peaceful demonstrations, the norm of the market for small business owners now seems to be crisis.
But what do we do in times like these? There aren’t a lot of great resources or historical precedents to follow when it comes to marketing in times of longer-term crises. Our team has been helping small business owners this entire time, and we’ve learned a few lessons that we wanted to share with you here.
Do You Have Anything to Say?
We often counsel our children to think before they speak. The same is true with your marketing. When approaching marketing during a time of crisis, consider if you have anything that needs to be said. Your messaging, as a business owner, should always be designed to provide value to your customers. You very well may have valuable information to help customers during a crisis. We often talk about setting up communication plans during storm season, because it’s something we have a lot of experience with. If you have something similarly valuable during a crisis, share it, and create that value.
If, on the other hand, you’re just chasing a trend, we recommend you stick to your more traditional messaging and keep serving your customers.
How Should You Communicate?
There are a lot of methods for marketing and communication. In the case of emergency communication, such as keeping clients informed during natural disasters, social media is an incredible resource. It enables immediate mass communication, letting people know if you are open, available and if there have been any changes to your service. Maybe you have a checklist or eBook that can help your clients. These items aren’t easily sent out over social media, and so a pop-up on your website or an email campaign might make excellent support strategies for your social media accounts.
Stay Your Course
One of the largest problems we’ve seen with digital marketing is the attempt to capture the crisis audience. During the early days of the pandemic, there was a lot of opportunism. Businesses and individuals tried to seize upon the trending topic of COVID-19 in a variety of ways. Some people tried to corner the market on newly valuable commodities like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Others began a bombardment of emails and articles ham-fisting their product or service into the pandemic.
Social media responded. The massive enforcement that followed had consequences that extended far beyond the bad actors. Normal business owners seeking to help found themselves locked out as a result of mentioning the pandemic in a single instance. For many of these business owners, the bans still continue or have just recently been lifted.
So what do you do with this? There are a couple of lessons here. First, don’t get lured in by what seems like easy traffic. The free lunch is a myth, no matter the context, and paying for it can be extremely costly, like a social media ban. Another lesson is to stay the course even if you have seen a decline in traffic. Don’t be tempted to make a quick crisis jump. Truth be told, your customer may not even be looking for you there and won’t follow if they see you.
But Don’t Forget to Be Flexible
Crisis marketing is a really difficult thing to give specific answers on. The truth of the matter is that every crisis is different. This pandemic has created new situations that none of us ever saw coming. Likewise, each natural disaster is incredibly different. It’s important to understand these changes and to be flexible with them. You may have a plan that works and holds the course for you, or you may need to make some changes. Whatever the case, relax and be flexible.
Your Stingray Branding Team
As a business owner, a lot of things are on your plate. But not everything needs to be. Preparing your business for a potential natural disaster is something we can help you with. Our team of experts loves working with people just like you, helping the demystifying the complexities of marketing, and putting a talented team to work for you. If you have questions about your marketing, or it’s time to take it to the next level, contact us today!