The coronavirus crisis is at the forefront of everyone’s minds at the moment and it has or will affect us all, directly or indirectly. I do not want to write on the negative aspects of the topic, of which there is a lot. While these are frustrating times for business owners and marketers, yet there is an extraordinary opportunity to engage your consumers. In the wake of the crisis as more and more people are cooped up at home, they are turning to social media for a sense of community and brands have captive audiences for their campaigns and messaging.

But it is overwhelming to think of how to move forward with our messaging and marketing. I have put together some suggestions that could help you plan your brand strategy and communication for crisis times like we are all facing today.

Continue your marketing activities

While it might seem superficial to discuss brands, pricing, promotions as we are confronted with this pandemic, but we should not abstain from talking about business to our customers as the wheels of the industry need to keep turning. The reality of global economic trade means that we need to market and drive demand (and consumer spending) to stimulate the economy.

Keeping up with your marketing activities even during this pandemic ensures that you maintain brand recall among your audience. This shall pass and consumers will return to theaters, cafes, and travel hence, it is imperative to keep your brand lamp burning because the cost of reigniting later will be huge.

I would suggest steering away from hot deals and sales activation at the moment because your audience is locked inside their homes, unsure of their future and not prioritizing non-essentials items even if they are tempted to do so. You can post interesting and informative content even around your product or service that can help your consumers and uplift their spirits.

Communicate with empathy

Marketing indeed is faced with a conflict as it is expected to stay relevant by leveraging trending topics, the current one being the rather deadly virus which has engulfed us all. While I did mention earlier to not stall marketing and brand promotion, but it is critical to me mindful of how the message is being communicated. At the time of the crisis, people are turning to brands to deliver content that shows true consideration for the consumer. If you are talking of your products or services, do so in a way that shows awareness of the struggles being faced by your audience today. You do not want to be taking advantage of the situation to push sales.

Start user-centric initiatives

Brand can use this time to be helpful and it is now, more than ever that it will count and determine how it shapes your consumers’ views about you. It is one of the best times for a brand to leave a positive impression on their audience by providing content of genuine value. Content centered around mental well-being and keeping healthy is attracting attention of consumers at this time. Content that can keep them busy, positive and excited about the world and life is equally important.

While it might be the easiest for healthcare professionals and providers to share valuable content, but we can be creative and any industry can offer interesting content during this time. Use the online platform, translate your content for the digital medium to deliver messaging and to engage your audience. These strategies will surely build a positive association with your brand beyond the pandemic.

Use the upside of this downtime to review and update your brand

Faced with marketing and business challenges, the smarter option is to focus on the long-term brand building objective. With the unanticipated downtime upon us, every business and industry is on hit and trial, looking for ways to innovate and stay afloat. But we must foresee the bigger picture. As the business landscape enters a new realm, one should review their brand, adapt and be ready for the future. You can use this as an opportunity to analyse your brand’s strategy and design with the checklist that we have prepared for brand owners.

You can update your existing brand touchpoints or create new ones – like e-books, websites that needs to be updated or improved, creating podcasts, video content and webinars. Due to the lockdown, we surely have more time in hand which means that we can work on ideas which were on a back burner and bring them to see light of day.

Prepare for post-crisis days

It is being predicted that there will be a monumental increase in digital ad spends over the next few months as consumers are spending more time online and might continue to shop online. As people travel less and work from home more, a trend that might continue even after we overcome the situation, we expect to see mobile and social media opportunities increase. It might be a good idea to start preparing your brand to move online, if you haven’t already done so and also have a strategy in place to garner results from this platform.

Even though the world will not bounce back to normalcy overnight, brands need to gear up with a contingency plan to fuel their businesses and the economy. There will be a need to see the bigger picture and have a holistic communication and marketing plan to instill confidence back in the audience and reassure them of the need to go back to the pre-crisis days of effective marketing and buying.

While there is no official guide on how to communicate with our audience in times like this, but it will be imperative to constantly learn, adapt and listen to our audience for insights on how to move forward. We need to think long-term and constantly grease the wheels of the economy to keep our families fed and to protect our staff.

Look after yourself, your brand and we shall together get past this, stronger than ever.

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