The Coronavirus has turned life and the global economy upside down. In the midst of the crisis, brands big and small are scrambling to pivot their marketing messages to echo the severity of the situation as well as rushing to implement the correct safety measures. To successfully keep a business afloat during and after this pandemic brands must proceed with extreme and sincere sensitivity. Failing to do so will be disastrous to brand reputation and sales. What are the essentials to know for marketing during COVID-19?
Striking The Right Branding Tone During A Crisis
Humanity currently faces a bleak outlook, and unbridled positivity isn’t appreciated, even if it is meant well. Over 70,000 of our fellow citizens have perished in the United States alone, as well as hundreds of thousands globally, and that number rises aggressively daily. Our national GDP declined 4.8 in the first quarter of 2020, the worst decline since the Great Recession, and more than 30 million people have filed unemployment claims. A crisis of this scale is not to be taken lightly. It is not business as usual for anyone, and only 37% of people think brands should carry on advertising as normal.
The only ‘upside’ (if it can even be called that in the face of such a tragedy) is that we are ‘all in it together’. Be honest about your personal and company struggles. Your audience is more likely to accept a transparent message of unity and empathy, after all, they are facing a hard road ahead. People appreciate humilityin the face of a force larger than all of us. So what are some COVID-19 business ideas for brands?
1. Offer Joy, But in Context
Despite the severity of this COVID-19 pandemic, and its devastating impact on the livelihoods of millions of Americans it doesn’t mean that brands and small businesses should adopt doom and gloom as their narrative. Our news channels have taken care of that… Being bombarded with fear daily is overwhelming and bad for our health. Joy is allowed! Especially if done in a way that remains sensitive to our current reality.
Ongoing shelter-in-place and coronavirus quarantine measures means a huge chunk of our population is confined at home. Our homes have converted into our offices, schools, entertainment venues, beauty parlours and gyms. Many people are craving distraction and projects. Brands can play a real role in helping make lockdown more bearable.
A few examples of small business ideas that are responsible as well as effective marketing techniques during the coronavirus crisis include harnessing the power of print. Not only does direct mail encourage digitally-saturated customers to get offline for a few moments, but it also provides an element of old-school novelty. Who doesn’t like receiving a letter, if it’s good news? With millions of bored kids stuck at home during school closures, a brochure or booklets that features a coloring-in, foldable-into-origami or stickers page is a considerate and fun touch. Adults may even take a shot at it! Interesting reading or visual material such as a magazine is another excellent product customers have time for during lockdown.
One of the newest additions to our ‘new normal’ lives is face masks. A whole variety is used in our streets, from N95 respirator masks to surgical masks to homemade cloth face coverings. It’s highly encouraged (even mandatory in many situations) to wear a mask. We’re seeing a huge trend emerging in people sewing their own DIY face masks or ordering trendy designs online. Why not send your customers or your employees a fun Face Mask? Not only is it an essential item of safety, but it’s an excellent branding opportunity (your design will be unmissable). It will quite literally put a smile on the face of the wearer as well as those around them. Children that might be more fearful of wearing or seeing masks will definitely enjoy this item.
2. Be Generous and Useful.
What is happening to your product or service? Are there delays? If you have a store, when are you reopening? Will there be appropriate safety measures in place?
Your customers will appreciate it if you keep them informed. However, people are tired of receiving emails (however heartfelt) from companies they haven’t heard from in years. How can you share vital company information without bothering your customers? Be different, be genuine and be giving.
Some marketing ideas for businesses could be sending a printed flyer or brochure to your customers, detailing the essential changes. Don’t forget a QR code to direct them to your website and social channels. Show empathy by offering your customers relaxed payment plansand installments. A study has shown that people prefer brands responding to the outbreak by providing flexible payment terms (83%) and offering free services (81%). Include a coupon, or go a step further and include a helpful product (like a custom face mask?) or a joyful distraction like the ones we mentioned previously.
If your company is giving to a charitable cause, let your customers know about it. People remember brands for their good deeds in a time of crisis, particularly if done with true heart and generosity. Generous COVID-19 business ideas include donating to food banks, providing necessities or face masks for your staff or our medical personnel, or continuing to keep employees on the payroll. Real action or providing something truly useful will resonate much better than the generic ‘stay safe’, ‘stay home’ or ‘wash your hands’!
People are increasingly conscious and focused on their health and most basic needs. They will trust brands that can reflect the same level of care. Therefore, avoid mindlessly pushing products that may be unaffordable or low priority.
3. Turn to the Community
If you run a local establishment, you may be wondering how to reopen business after the COVID-19 lockdown is over. As well as following the OSHA guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19, now is the time to reach out to your neighbourhood! The level of support your community is willing to give may surprise you. Everyone wants their local businesses to survive.
A couple of strategies that will work well for local small businesses include hanging high-visibility posters in stores and outside storefronts. The most useful Covid 19 signs for business include information on the social distancing rules and the maximum allowed capacity of the establishment.
It’s recommended to mail food menus to the surrounding neighbourhood. Include them in orders, as take-out rather than dining-in restaurants will become the new normal and the chance of re-orders is therefore very high. Your community will appreciate postcards thanking them for buying local and will encourage them to support their local businesses.
Now is also the time to send out product catalogues to customers that prefer to shop from home. Good content, design and paper quality helps you stand out from the crowded online e-commerce world and as everyone is staying in their houses as much as possible the possibility your material is read is higher than ever.
It is not easy to know how to reopen business after COVID-19. Because there may be no ‘after covid’ on the horizon right now, this coronavirus may very well be with us long term, even if the global state of pandemic is over and lockdown restrictions are lifted. The best strategy to give your company a fighting chance to stay afloat during this crisis is to get the marketing right, follow the OSHA Covid 19 guidance, genuinely care for your employees, your customers and the local small businesses around you.
The nuances of brand voice are more delicate than ever, and companies that attempt to be commercially exploitative will not fare well. The business ideas we’ve covered ensure brands will stand out with print in an oversaturated digital world. Unique Covid 19 marketing ideas are small ways for your company to both give and receive the support everyone needs right now.