A crisis often creates a deep sense of fear and dread in the hearts of most people. Marketers must shift their focus fast when faced with unexpected events such as a global or local crisis and change their fears into opportunities.
They need to be pragmatic and creative to handle the crisis and develop new marketing strategies that are consistent with the current times, while being sensitive to how the crisis is impacting their audience.
Let's explore some common fears you may have and determine seven ways to manage marketing strategy development in spite of those concerns.
5 Marketing Fears You May Have During a Global Crisis
It is normal to experience some fear during a crisis as a marketer or other business professional. Here are five common marketing fears you may have when a crisis presents itself:
Addressing Consumer Fears
There are a number of consumer fears that may come up during a crisis, and it may be a challenge to decide whether to address or ignore these fears in your marketing strategies.
As a marketing professional, you may be afraid to approach such sensitive topics because you don’t want to use fear as a marketing tool and risk your business being seen as socially irresponsible.
Allocating Marketing Funds Appropriately
A crisis often causes a shift in the way consumers and businesses spend money. There may be conservation efforts on both sides as consumers and businesses try to strategize their funds effectively to last them throughout the duration of the crisis.
This means that marketers must also allocate their funds and resources effectively to influence their audience to take desired actions. As a marketer, you may find this task harrowing because of the volatility a crisis can cause.
It may take some time to decide which efforts to invest in, and it can often be risky for marketing executives to make these decisions when they are working on a strict budget or with limited resources.
Assessing the Future of Your Business
According to a survey on Fish Bowl, during the COVID-19 crisis, more than 65 percent of marketing and ad industry professionals believed their business would be conducting layoffs.
Like many other professionals, you may worry about the sustainability of the business you work for when a crisis happens. Each week often brings new challenges when a crisis is taking place, which often contributes to widespread fear regarding employment and the overall power your business has to bounce back.
Shifting to Digital Marketing
Many companies have adapted some if not all of the digital marketing practices to help their marketing efforts, but some marketers may still have a fear of shifting to digital marketing completely.
If you haven’t made the change over to digital marketing, and a crisis happens, you may be forced to reevaluate your traditional marketing strategies to adapt to the current marketplace.
Not Doing Everything Right
Most crises don’t come with much warning before you must deal with them.
A crisis management planmay help businesses prepare to handle a crisis, but most often dealing with a crisis is a system of trial and error in marketing. Some of your marketing messages or efforts may be well intended, but they may also fall flat with your audience during a time of crisis.
A global crisis affects everyone in different ways. As you survey the marketplace and truly listen to your audience as weeks or months go by during the crisis, you will have a better understanding of how to market to them.
The true failure would be in failing to respond to a crisis and continuing on with your current marketing strategy. Although there may be many fears you have as a marketer, you can create new marketing strategies to overcome your fears and leverage the success of your business.
How to Create a Marketing Strategy During a Crisis: 7 Tips You Need to Know
Creating a marketing strategy during a crisis is possible, and you may see lucrative and long-lasting results from your efforts. Here are seven ways to create a marketing strategy while in crisis-mode:
Adjust to New Realities.
A large part of creating a marketing strategy during a crisis involves accepting that there is one happening that you might have to adjust your plans. It is easy to get caught up in current plans and habits so much so that it makes it difficult for you to refocus your marketing goals and objectives.
It helps to see your new reality as a way to create meaning and truly delight your customers. This way, you can cultivate a positive attitude about overcoming the obstacles that may be caused by a crisis.
Increase Social Media Content.
Social media has become an indispensable part of most people’s lives with over 3.8 billion people now using it to connect to others. According to research done by Pew, 62 percent of Americans get news from social media, surpassing print news sources.
Social media has increasingly become a tool for individuals to use to find out more information about anything they want to know. During a crisis, it is likely that people spend more time on social media to read the latest news and get updates on any sort of crisis that might be happening.
By increasing your social media publishing frequency, you can engage with your audience more and provide them with meaningful content that adds value to their lives.
Although posting more content on social media is a good idea, make sure you listen to your audience and only post with a purpose. You may also consider changing your social media bios to reflect a new campaign that you developed during the crisis.
For example, UberEats created a campaign called #MoveWhatMatters that centered around supporting local restaurants and delivery drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their Instagram bio reflects this, which lets their customers know what’s important to them and allows them to participate in the Move What Matters campaign.
Their campaign's webpage details how millions of workers in the restaurant industry have been impacted. They explain how they're helping raise contributions for restaurants and partnering with the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF).
Develop a Marketing Contingency Plan.
A crisis often brings about unexpected consumer behavior and various fluctuations for businesses. Your marketing department needs more than a communication policy. It needs a well-developed marketing contingency plan.
You must identify what is going on in the current market and predict long-term and short-term market behavior. Once you do this, you can plan your marketing activities according to the data you collect.
Your contingency plan can help you to respond better to crises in the future, pivot in a proactive way during potential slow seasons, and allow you to recover well from the losses you may have incurred.
Take Care of Your Employees.
It is important to communicate with your employees about the direction of your business or changing practices that may occur because of the crisis you are facing. Try to communicate with your marketing team early on about what to expect and revise your message as new data becomes available.
Your transparency with your team can help reduce the spread of misinformation throughout the company. You may also consider making their commute optional by allowing them to work from home. In some cases, remote work may not be optional, and you may have no choice but to disperse your team members.
The COVID-19 crisis showed how unprepared many businesses were when they were required to allow their employees to work from home. In fact, 51 percent of employees who switched from in-office environment to a work from home environment did not receive work-at-home training.
Try to develop a work from home training plan to support your employees and maintain productivity levels.
Show Your Audience You Care.
It is best to avoid marketing messages that appear opportunistic to your audience. You don’t want to make them think you are trying to take advantage of them in any way while a crisis is happening.
Instead, let your audience know you care and that you are there for them. If it is in your business’ power to do so, then offer to help in some way.
You may not be able to fix the crisis or change the affects the crisis has on your customers, but you can do small things to show them that you understand and that they are appreciated.
For instance, Starbucks offered healthcare workers and first responders free coffee for a couple of months in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Small acts of kindness show your audience how much you care, and it helps make a positive impact on your brand that may help you gain new customers and keep your current customers loyal.
Describe the Actions Your Company Is Taking.
Make your audience aware of how your company is dealing with the crisis. Provide them with a sense of assurance that your company is doing all they can to correspond with their customers or clients.
For example, during the COVID-19 crisis, Michael’s sent out emails to their customers to let them know about the new services they were offering to protect shoppers and employees as best they could.
Describing your actions during a crisis helps make your customers feel more secure, and it demonstrates your social responsibility.
Invest in Inbound Marketing.
Investing in inbound and digital marketing efforts during a crisis can provide your business with value that lasts beyond your current situation. Inbound marketing strategies can help your business to attract, engage, and delight your customers and grow a business that provides value and builds trust.
Because the basic inbound marketing model revolves around providing value and building trust, people are more likely to respond favorably to your brand during a crisis when you use these strategies.
Inbound offers a more human way to market and sell as technology shifts and changes. And, it is a better way to serve the interests of your customers.
A crisis is often negatively impacting your customers, which means it likely will negatively impact your brand. But if you apply inbound marketing techniques, you can offer your customers products and services they connect to, and they will see how good your offerings are.
Be Tactful With Marketing Strategy Development
Crises are going to happen, and they will change the way your business operates and markets. If you are willing to adapt and evolve your current strategies to keep up with the current market during a crisis, you may save your business and come out better than before.
But you need to be sensitive and thoughtful as you consider your ongoing initiatives. Evolving through tactful marketing strategy development can have benefits that outlast your fears.