As we navigate our way through 2020, one thing is certain: the modern world has never seen anything quite like the Covid-19 virus. The impact on the world has been significant, and only time will help us understand what that impact will mean.
Is this a time we can discuss business and marketing? We think so. It’s a serious time, but even in times of crisis, you must be sure not to neglect your business. Jawaharlal Nehru said, “Every little thing counts in a crisis.” That’s never been more true than now: this crisis means you must be sensitive and safe. You should also be practical and prepared. Safeguarding your business is important for the long-term health of you and your family and those of your employees. There are marketing decisions you can make right now that can ensure you navigate this difficult time properly.
Most states have shut down their economies, shuttering non-essential businesses. But essential services such as healthcare, grocery, civil and commercial construction, and legal services have remained open. These essential businesses have unique challenges as they continue to serve their constituents.
Here are three established practices you should remember in your marketing strategy during the coronavirus pandemic:
Ironically, the advent of the Information Age has simultaneously given birth to a Disinformation Culture. A recent Pew study showed that Americans distrust “official” data 40 percent more than folks did in 1970. With so much information available (and so quickly), people are unsure what to make of it at times.
In a time of crisis, it’s crucial that people trust the information they receive. Organizations need to communicate clear and accurate information to the public.
It’s not a time to be imprecise. It’s not a time to be cute with your messaging. This is a time to be transparent and accurate.
One of the first mistakes some organizations make is to stop communicating during a crisis.
Don’t be paralyzed during a time of crisis. Continue to adhere to your communication plan, and if anything you should over communicate to your customers. It’s ok to tell them that you understand times are hard. It’s alright to tell them that this is an unprecedented time. But be sure to tell your customers what you are doing and how you can assist them.
Don’t make empty promises. It can be tempting to want to seem like a hero. Don’t do that. Communicate your values and your plan for dealing with these uncertain times. Empathize.
Hospitals and healthcare organizations are facing a difficult time as the coronavirus has spread. People are afraid and unsure. For some people, it may be tempting to latch onto anything they hear. This is your time to educate your audience.
Essential businesses are sometimes taken for granted. But they also have many experts and professionals who can articulate the information that’s needed in a time of crisis. Your communication plan should include educational content that illustrates the facts about the situation. Create charts, use quotes from experts, cite your sources, and vet your content.
Educational content (such as tutorials or guides) should be easy to follow and share. Work with partners to enhance your ability to spread your message.
When people face a crisis, especially one that impacts society as a whole, they start to feel as if they’re on unsteady ground. They seek places of trust and dependability. Is your organization dependable?
Dependability means doing what you say you’re going to do. Are you clearly communicating to your customers? Are you telling them what you’re planning during the time of crisis? Most importantly, are you following through on that process.
Consumers will seek brands and organizations that exude dependability. Is your hospital communicating, educating, and sticking to your promise to serve the community? Is your brand communicating your intention faithfully and consistently? Are you adhering to your core principles?
Messaging at any time can be difficult. A communication plan is crucial to your marketing efforts. But during a period of crisis, it’s even more crucial.
Want the short version? Follow the three communication strategies outlined above: keep communicating, provide educational and accurate information, and be dependable.