Some say, ”A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” This may sound harsh considering the loss and pain many have experienced, but as marketing professionals it’s a unique reality we have to address to help keep our businesses afloat. When we emerge from this time of unprecedented challenges, we will either come out better or worse… never the same.
As we are bombarded with generic top-ten lists of what you should or should not do, don’t rely too much on one-size-fits-all recommendations. Each situation is unique, and you should plan the best course of action for your specific business.
There are, however, some best practices to follow for creating a plan that helps position your company to emerge even stronger after a crisis.
1: Communicate with ALL of your audiences
More than ever before, you need to speak to more than just your customers. It’s important to keep your staff and partners highly informed and engaged to help put their minds at ease. Create messaging that addresses each of their unique concerns. Welcome their questions, and keep the lines of communication open and active.
2: A trick on how to speak to each audience’s unique needs
Shift your perspective from talking to a large group of individuals to speaking with a single person that best represents each of your potential audiences. Most frequently this would be a client, employee or partner. Then write a message directly to that person. If Jennifer is your ideal customer, be sure to include what’s important to her and write in the way you both would carry on a conversation. If Mark is your best employee, mention everything that he would want to know, and speak in a way you would normally talk to Mark. Working through these scenarios helps to humanize your voice and provides focus as you write.
3: Don’t chase the headlines
News changes quickly, so don’t create content that relies on recently released information. Keep your messaging top-level, and focus on how your company is thinking of your audience and how you are uniquely able to help them come out of the crisis at a better place. Stay true to your brand focus, as this should not have changed and will keep your voice from sounding like everyone else.
4: Be honest about how this experience has changed you
Acknowledge that a crisis has happened and how the experience has changed your company and your approach to business. You don’t need to share every detail, but being open and honest about the impact the crisis has had helps your audiences relate to you. This can be an especially effective strategy in your organic and ongoing communications. Companies who resume marketing after a crisis like nothing has happened will come across as inauthentic and tone deaf. Your transparency will give them a point of connection.
5: Remember all of your communication opportunities
Think beyond paid advertising and incorporate this new approach into all of your communications. This includes company newsletters, social communications, thought leadership and how each client-facing team member interacts with your customers. A well- rounded response will ensure your messaging comes across as genuine and consistent.
6: It’s okay not to get it 100% right, just be ready to listen
There is no one right way to proceed, and like any marketing campaign, your customers will tell you what’s working and what’s not. This situation is no different. Consider testing slightly nuanced messaging instead of going all-in with one approach. If you set up and monitor the correct tracking points, you’ll quickly see what is resonating and what isn’t, allowing you to adjust your approach as needed.
In the weeks to come, we all will have a great deal to figure out. While there will never be one fool-proof path to success, we hope these guidelines will provide some clarity for creating your marketing communications in the near future.
Most of us have never seen a crisis like the COVID-19 virus has caused, but with any change comes opportunity. As the leader of your organization, now is the time to keep your company engaged and poised for the best possible outcome.