• Kim Funk

How to Market Your Business During the COVID Crisis

Six things to keep in mind during the pandemic.

Photo by Jetshoots.com via Unsplash

As states slowly start to allow small businesses to reopen, businesses will start to market themselves again. If you're anything like me, traditional marketing seems, well...not quite right.

You want to put your name out there but, you don't want to be pushy.

You need to be sensitive to the fact that many folks aren't going back to work yet.

And then, of course, you need to be mindful of the health crisis.

No matter the situation, it's always important to market your business. Customers who relied on you before the pandemic want to know how you're doing. You may be excited to let people know that you're reopening.

1. Review your strategy - The marketing strategy you implemented at the beginning of this year might not be appropriate anymore. Take time to review that strategy through today's lens. Be sensitive to your customers' concerns. Visuals of large crowds, people shaking hands, or any sort of physical contact might not be a good idea right now. Phrases like "Reach out," "Keep in touch," and "Let's connect," probably aren't a good idea either. Work with your creative team to ensure that your messaging aligns with today's world.

2. Be relatable - instead of pushing your product, have employees write a personal profile or, create a video of what their life is like "working from home." Customers always enjoy learning that the folks they do business with are just like them. Relatable marketing perpetuates a sense of solidarity, and while each person's "We're all in this together," may look a little different - your relatable articles and videos can help your customers feel less isolated.

3. Share how you're contributing to the COVID-19 response. We have a distillery in my town - less than a mile from where I live. Instead of making spirits, they pivoted - retooling to make hand sanitizer for the hospitals in the state. Another company in town retooled so that they could make FDA approved surgical masks for healthcare workers and other front line responders.

I don't know about you, but when I see companies pivoting for the greater good, it makes me want to do business with them even more.

4. Change your messaging to communicate your commitment to safety. If you're one of several non-essential businesses that's opening up soon, you probably have new safety guidelines to follow. Review those guidelines carefully and frame your messaging around those guidelines. It might be helpful to have an attorney review the guidelines with you to ensure that you're compliant.

Once you're familiar with the requirements, make sure you communicate what you're doing to your customers so that they'll feel safe doing business with you. Ensure that your messaging is free of errors both factual and typographical. Have an attorney and a proofreader review the messaging before you publish it.

Keep your messaging neutral - this is not the place for alarmist or cavalier messaging. And include references to credible sources like the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, or your state's department of health.

5. Offer value. Do you have a skill you can teach your customers? Perhaps a hobby that you enjoy doing? Use this time to teach your customers that skill. It doesn't even need to be related to your business. In fact, the more unlike your business the better. Surprise your audience and your customers - surprises leave an impression. I don't know, maybe you're a mechanic who can teach your customers how to knit!

6. Support other small businesses - especially if you do business in a small town. The current situation has the potential to shutter a lot of doors. If you are able, buy gift cards to local restaurants who are doing curbside pickup and run a contest on social media. Our local hardware store, Everson's Hardware Hank, ran such a contest when everything first shut down and it was so much fun to enter the contest and then check in every day to see who won.

Marketing during a pandemic doesn't need to be as daunting as it might seem. It just takes a simple shift in strategy and messaging. If you pair it with a little sensitivity and creativity, your customers will be happy to hear from you. Go ahead - give it a shot. And if you need more ideas or any help, let me know.

And don't forget to wash your hands.

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