Although every company and brand is different, right now all of them are experiencing the same challenge — staying relevant (and preferably helpful) to their clients. Most organizations face two challenges:
- Clients are cutting back on budgets, bringing previously outsourced activities in house; reducing purchasing in line with business need, etc.
- Company leaders would like to leverage the current crisis in their communications without seeming insensitive.
In times like these, it can be mission critical to adjust, not react. Large companies with equally huge marketing budgets and “war rooms,” from Ford to Google, can respond quickly to the challenges of a crisis. Moreover, big companies have marketing and PR crisis management plans that they can execute quickly. For the average SMB, such an effort can be prohibitively expensive.
Smaller firms may be working on the fly, which can negatively impact results. (The exception to this rule would be those working with a professional marketing/PR firm, which should have expertise in crisis communications). Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean they should “sit tight.” During any crisis that impacts them and/or their clients, every firm should perform an audit of their current marketing plans and take appropriate action.
Following are a few adjustments that can help make the most of a difficult situation. These are just suggestions – every firm is different.
- Identify activities that should be paused or cancelled. Review your current plans to see which items may be tough to execute, at risk of falling on deaf ears or lose their relevance if held off for a few months. For contracted placements, orders and other items involving third parties, if there is no “hold” button, push timelines out if possible.
- Review and rework messages for activities that will proceed. For example, if your next campaign has a theme of “The Closer You Get, the Better We Look,” you might adjust the messaging to read “We’re Working Harder to Look Great from Your Perspective.” Be sensitive to the fact that businesses may be reluctant to make decisions now but still need to be educated.
- Audit your visuals. From social media profiles to billboards and beyond, visuals garner far more attention than copy. Don’t overlook adjusting them if appropriate.
- Highlight how you can help. If your company can provide a service that would be valuable to your clients and prospects, promote it more heavily. Even if it isn’t a service you normally sell, if you have the competency on staff to run the effort, do it.
- Stay updated on the quarantine advisements in your geographic business areas. Every region is on a different timeline. Not targeting your messaging to the current reality will make your firm seem tone deaf.
- Honor your heroes. If any of your personnel or clients are doing extraordinary things during this time of uncertainty and fear, give them the credit they deserve. Use some of the budget you won’t spend elsewhere to thank them: run an ad, pitch the angle to the media, or create a social media campaign (with their permission, of course). You’ll position your firm as altruistic and appreciative — and garner priceless publicity.
- Don’t stop working. Do start dreaming. Savvy farmers don’t rest while fields lie fallow – they review the success of their harvest and plan their next crop. The same should be true for your marketing. Whether your company has an in-house marketing team or works with an agency, now is a great time to update competitive research, ensure websites (including metadata) are still relevant, and review and fine-tune your communications strategy. Then, start planning your next campaign. When we are busy, it’s easy to sweep important tasks under the rug, then never get back to them. Don’t be caught unprepared to launch back into full swing as soon as the time is right.
In the final analysis, missed opportunities won’t do lasting damage to your brand. Not addressing the current crisis in an appropriate manner just might.
This post is courtesy of MMC Content Manager Jennifer Farwell