Bring a little sunshine to your customers’ lives, so you’ll be in their good books when life finally returns to normal
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has turned life as we know it upside down for many businesses, with staff shortages, supply chain issues and changes to customer behaviour and spending habits all taking their toll.
As a result, many brands are now having to revise their marketing strategies at short notice, with 55 per cent of businesses saying they’ve had to put their planned campaigns on hold. On top of all this disruption, it can be tricky to judge how to keep your marketing going during such a difficult time without coming across as insensitive or profiteering.
One way you can make sure your business continues to reach your target customers is by spreading a little positivity through your online marketing campaigns.
Publicise your charity work
The news is full of scary headlines at the moment, but in amongst the doom and gloom there are still heart-warming stories about brands that are doing their part to make a difference.
So if there’s any way you think you could use your resources to help, now’s the time to act. Not only is it the morally responsible thing to do, but if you’re lucky it can give you some excellent material for your online marketing and even net you some great coverage in the press.
There are lots of ways to do this. For example, some manufacturers are using their existing stock to help make essential medical supplies, like chemical company Ineos, which recently opened a new factory to produce hand sanitiser, some of which will be given to the NHS free of charge.
But you don’t necessarily need to be a big multinational corporation in order to help out. Lots of smaller businesses have chipped in by sending essential supply packages to vulnerable people in the local area, offering discounts or free products for NHS workers or donating money to local aid networks.
People are going to remember how brands responded to the crisis, so your actions now will have an impact on your performance when it’s all over. You only need to look at Twitter, where some companies and individuals are already being held to account for their actions during the pandemic, to see that consumers are paying attention.
So once you’ve started doing your bit to help, be sure to get the word out about your charitable work online through blog posts and via your social media channels.
Offer your customers as much information as possible
If your regular operations have been disrupted by the crisis, then it’s only natural that your customers will have questions about this.
The most important thing you can do to protect your relationship with them is to provide honest, upfront and up to date information about any changes - like longer delivery times or reduced stock - along with details of any extra measures you’re taking to tackle the crisis or protect your staff.
You can get the word out and address customer queries using your social media and mailing lists, as well as by creating an FAQ page on your website. Things are moving incredibly fast, so try to keep this information as up to date as you can. Even if they’re directly affected, your customers will probably appreciate the efforts you made to keep them updated, which can go a long way in terms of securing future custom.
Engage your audience and focus on positive stories
Remember, your online marketing during the crisis isn’t just about trying to limit the damage caused by the disruption - it can also be a valuable opportunity to connect with your target audience on a more emotional level.
One way to do this is to use your online channels to promote positive news stories and uplifting content that’s related to your industry. In such trying times, your audience is sure to appreciate seeing a little positivity in their inboxes or on their social media feeds and, when done right, this approach can grow brand awareness and reach new audiences who otherwise might never have found your business organically.
You can also use social media to directly engage with your audience as much as possible. One brand that has utilised this approach to great effect over the past few weeks is smoothies and juice specialist Innocent, which has been engaging its Twitter followers directly by posting funny ‘working from home’ tasks that are perfectly in keeping with its irreverent attitude and brand positioning.
By providing a welcome distraction from all the misery out there, Innocent is managing to keep the brand on their customers’ radars without coming across as crass or insensitive.
Spreading positivity through your online marketing is a great way to reach your target audience during a very difficult trading period. By taking my advice on board and following some of the examples I’ve given here, you should be able to keep marketing your business successfully through the crisis and hopefully spread a bit of joy in these dark times too.
Jonathan Birch is creative director at digital marketing agency Glass Digital.