Creating digital marketing tips during COVID-19 is like putting together a best practices guide on how to interact with aliens. I could draw upon my many decades of experience interacting with humans, but there’s absolutely nothing in history I could tap into to create that definitive guide. It’s unprecedented. I mentioned in another article about business strategy in the time of COVID-19 that in this unique time, I had to lead my team to completely pivot on messaging for every client–and then do it again several days later because the newly-formed strategy was no longer relevant or appropriate.
For our digital marketing clients, they benefit from having my team in place to be proactive in forming their communication and marketing strategy, executing, and relaying the results back to them as we watch their analytics. Many small business owners, however, are personally handling their own marketing plans. For them, this is an ancillary activity in their business and is not their bailiwick. The tips outlined below are meant to help guide those business owners struggling with how to handle this unprecedented shift in their business.
What NOT to do:
Shut down digital marketing efforts. This is probably the single most damaging thing you could do to your business, especially if you have been active with digital marketing (social media, newsletters, blog posts, digital advertising, etc). There are three very important reasons:
- With self-quarantining, people are more digitally connected than they ever have been, and this will continue for the foreseeable future.
- If your audience is used to you being active and you stop, you will no longer be top of mind. Even worse, they could wonder what is happening with your business.
- Your competitors will still be utilizing digital marketing, one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal.
Ignore the elephant in the room. I have been inspired by the spot-on content from businesses in countless industries and really proud of what my team has created for our clients. What stands out as off-putting is the “business as usual” approach some business owners have taken. There’s no mention of how they are adjusting their business or acknowledgement COVID-19 exists. And worse, some sound opportunistic or fear mongering in their tone. We are in an unprecedented pandemic. People are scared. To ignore it is insensitive.
What to do:
Think outside the box. Regardless of your industry, this is solid advice. I am working closely with clients on what this means for them and I am also finding inspiration in what local businesses are doing to be creative in this challenging time. A few examples:
- A locally-owned Italian restaurant has turned their bartender into the lead on delivery service, which they started to offer to keep afloat. What a creative way to avoid a layoff!
- One of our realtor clients held a 15-home virtual tour of their listings this weekend with positive results.
- Another client is making significant shifts in who her target audience is and adjusting services to help even more businesses who need her help.
Create meaningful content. This is our guiding principle in all that we do. Messaging should never be all about a business, but rather it should be a mix of content. Share things of interest to your target audience, watch your analytics to see what’s resonating, and keep honing in on even better content over time. What that looks like now has greatly changed. Breezy posts about boozy brunches in outdoor seating along the water has been shifted to how to support our local restaurants by ordering a to-go boozy brunch (including the Prosecco for mimosas!). Meaningful content is about sharing your products and services, interesting news, helpful tips, and it wouldn’t hurt to add a sprinkling of hope-filled content.
Be prepared to pivot. Again. And again. This was the theme of countless calls and emails last week. And it was the reality of our content curation for our clients. And this will continue to be a focus for my team in support of our clients as we adjust and our lives shift with the progression of COVID-19. The initial strategy I created on March 12th was completely adjusted by March 16th. I would love for the week of March 23rd to remain consistent in our strategy, but we will continue to be prepared to pivot as I see the need arise. And I just might order that go-to boozy brunch package next weekend if we have to pivot much more in the coming days!
I am very focused on supporting the business community by offering complimentary planning sessions to help business owners figure out how to navigate this challenging time. Additionally, many of my clients who are business coaches are also offering complimentary sessions and discounted packages. I am happy to make the appropriate connections to coaches as well. Please reach out if you need support!