The uncertainty of this period of time has changed all the rules of the marketing game. In ordinary circumstances you know how the game is played, and so you act accordingly. But now that there is no clear path forward, do the rules even apply anymore?
The answer is not black and white. Consumers and clients are having trouble navigating their own careers and families, and so beyond their homes, they are looking for others to lead. That means they may be looking to both corporations and local government to guide their behaviour and define what “normal” is.
At a minimum, this could just mean what “normal” means to patronize your business. If you are slowly opening your doors as per the provincial guidelines, you know what you need to do physically in your store. But it would be even more helpful if you could communicate your policies before your customers even get to your front door. In this case, putting a Covid-19 statement on your website, Facebook page, Google Business page, and any other directory/platform where you are listed will go a long way to setting expectations and putting everyone’s minds at ease. If there is information out there that is relevant to your industry, sharing those links with your audience could be useful as well.
Going even further, I would venture to say that now is not the best time for a “20% off” sale just to get sales up. People are emotionally sensitive right now, and even though a sale is technically a bonus for your customers, they may not see it that way. Instead of a discount, perhaps you can tie incentives to giving a percentage of the sale to local Covid-19 relief. People might be happy to make a purchase that will also make a change in their community for those less fortunate than themselves. This is a great way to stay top of mind.
And since your social media should always be a mix of information+product & service offerings+community involvement, now is the time to lean more heavily on the latter. Share posts of local community initiatives that offer Covid-19 relief, and if you are doing something as a business, make sure your customers are aware.
If operations have slowed down, this is a great time to get back to that marketing plan you have that’s collecting dust. Look at your business from a bird’s eye view to see if your brand voice is indeed consistent and if not, where the gaps might be. This can be difficult to do as the business owner yourself, so try and bring in a third-party – someone who doesn’t know anything about your product or service. This exercise is always extremely useful but difficult to do during normal operations, but perhaps now is a great time to do a brand audit. In this way when things do ramp up again, you are comfortably in the driver’s seat.
Stay safe and healthy!