COVID-19 AND YOUR MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS
In this time of unprecedented mass panic surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, by now, you may consider yourself an expert on how to wash your hands, practice social distancing and other CDC.gov recommended measures.
First and foremost, keep in mind these essential crisis communication points from our previous blog to consider the safety of yourself, your staff and your clients, “Crisis Communication When Disaster Strikes.”
Once the health and wellness of your immediate circles are considered, as a business owner, it is critical to also reflect upon your overall response strategy for the health of your business.
TIPS FOR BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS & MARKETING DURING THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK
Be aware of your timing.
Whether you had a book or product launch or corporate conference planned, take a moment to pause all outgoing efforts. If they do not directly correspond with today’s breaking news, it is likely better to hold off to avoid getting lost in the mix.
For example, while the travel industry is being hit hard, putting out a promotion for a cruise to Hawaii right now is definitely not the answer. Failing to reflect on your greater surroundings puts you at risk of appearing unaware and insensitive at best, and exploitative at worst.
Adapt your message to deliver value.
To avoid becoming the next viral meme, don’t put out a mass message unless it is relevant and provides value to its recipients.
Think through your clients’ and prospects’ most immediate needs, fears and concerns. How can your business help be a part of the solution? Have your team brainstorm this exercise.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a widely recognized psychology theory that states until one’s base needs must be satisfied before they can spare attention to needs higher up. Meaning, until immediate physiological and safety needs are addressed, not much else will be of importance. However, if quarantine and social distancing remain in place for an extended period, the need for connection will become a greater motivator to consider in your messaging and efforts as well.
While they may be secondary to immediate health concerns, the extreme market volatility certainly is top-of-mind for our clients in the financial industry. Focusing on communicating strategies that limit losses and keep emotions in check during these times of market volatility helps provide a voice of reason within the chaos. Perhaps a segment of your database may benefit from considering refinancing a mortgage during historic low-interest rates to help alleviate their monthly expenses. Or, as new government loan relief programs are rolled out, they will need to know how they or there loved ones can participate.
As quarantine measures tighten, suggesting a good read or other similar activities to fill the time may become appropriate as well. Know your audience. Be mindful, helpful, proactive and respectful of their needs.
Reconsider your marketing products and platforms in light of COVID-19:
- Conferences/Workshops – At this point, most industry conferences have been or are expected to either be canceled or shifted to virtual formats. If you have not already implemented GotoMeeting, Zoom, RingCentral or other virtual conferencing platforms to convene with your staff, clients and prospects alike—now is certainly the time to embrace technology. A byproduct of social distancing will be an expedited adaption curve for these technologies that will likely impact the way many do business well beyond this pandemic.
- Promotional Items – If you are considering creating care packages, know that many branded items are produced, at least in part, in China and production has indefinite delays at this time. Items such as hand sanitizer are also all on backorder. Additionally, tangible items are much less desirable in a time when everyone is concerned about spreading germs. Review your communication essentials and ways they may need to be adapted to share and communicate digitally, such as explainer and corporate videos, infographics, and similar.
- Google My Business & Social Media – If permitted by your compliance, these can be great tools for keeping your community updated about changes to your hours and policies. Using live functions, such as Facebook Live, could also be a great way to provide a virtual town hall and answer questions. Avoid sharing politically charged or otherwise polarizing content that does not fit the tone of your business or audience. (This point is always true, but worth emphasizing during such an emotionally volatile time.)
- Public Relations – The media is in need of qualified experts now more than ever to help address evolving market conditions. Our team at AdvisorPR continues to be available facilitating these local, national and industry news opportunities.
The bottom line.
During these trying times, remember to stop and think as a human first, and business owner second. Embrace technology to stay connected, even while socially distant. And be the voice of reason to provide a rational plan for those who need it. As always, we are here to help facilitate your communication needs any way that we can and look forward to being of service.
Courtney Browning, vice president of marketing for AdvisorPR, is an experienced financial marketing professional having established integrated marketing communication plans and provided consulting on coordinated marketing and branding initiatives for hundreds of financial advisors over the past decade, as well as firsthand experience as an insurance and securities licensed advisor. Established in 2005, AdvisorPR is a branding, marketing and public relations firm dedicated to providing custom and turnkey marketing communications solutions exclusively to financial professionals and the corporate companies that serve them.