In the past three months, quarantine conditions sent brands across the world scrambling for a crisis communication plan. Even trained communications experts had to plan carefully to ensure their brands stayed afloat during the global pandemic. From luxury hotels with no guests to wines unsure how to speak online, everyone had to strategize to regain footing when life came screeching to a halt.
Only eight percent of people believe companies should stop advertising during a crisis. Seventy-seven percent want to hear from favorite brands – but for them to be helpful. This means, when disaster strikes, brands have work to do, curating new batches of content that maintain brand values while appealing to their newly confined audience. This can be a crucial moment for maintaining brand loyalty and propelling your business marketing ideas forward, even when the world is at a standstill.
So, how can you manage your crisis communication plan? What do you need to adjust to maintain an appropriate brand voice despite unpredictable circumstances?
Since social media is the newspaper of today, many turned there for answers during the pandemic. Email marketing, blogs, and frequent website updates are among the many other ways brands have continued to touch customers’ lives despite the distance. Online content has kept brands pushing forward, and it can help move your business branding out of quarantine as well.
Let’s take a look at a few dos and don’ts for devising a solid crisis communication plan during a quarantine. Here are seven key ways you can communicate with customers and stay relevant even when the world is facing a crisis.
The worst thing you can do during a crisis is to disappear. Brands that remain present and friendly, and retain their authentic voice, can provide a sense of security when customers need it most. Your business branding doesn’t only exist to sell, but to provide a feeling customers can trust. Communicating online can transmit that feeling even without contact. Brands who go silent lose trust and slip from the minds of their followers quickly.
When in doubt, be helpful
If you’re not sure what to post, ask yourself how the situation is affecting your audience. How have their priorities changed? From homeschooling to work from home, chances are their lives have changed significantly. Start there to find your opportunity for providing support through business branding. Remember, even B2Bs are people too, so whoever your customers are, you can use your crisis communication plan to their needs.
During quarantine, Spotify made playlists of soothing music to listen to at home. Netflix curated top things to watch without even mentioning the pandemic. Come up with some business marketing ideas for using your expertise to help others.
Things change day by day during a crisis of this magnitude. In Australia, much has opened back up, in England certain businesses are still closed, and in Spain people are required to wear masks. These circumstances change with each passing day, so brands need to act fast for their crisis communication plan to stay relevant and effective. These fast reactions win customers. If you had a trip planned and had to cancel, but the hotel maintained rapid communication, maybe you’d rebook the trip. The hotel’s effort helped them maintain a sale. What could a speedy crisis communication plan do for you during a time like this?
There’s no reason why you can’t promote yourself, especially with a seventy percent uptick in web browsing during the quarantine. Just be sensitive to what your audience is experiencing. Depending on your following you may decide to intersperse normal posts with posts related to the crisis or devote a whole campaign to the pandemic. Do what’s right for you, but always be intentional with your business branding. Don’t just post the odd reference to the situation and hope for the best. Followers can spot a lack of authenticity. Develop your strategy with care, craft the message in alignment with your brand values, and commit to it fully.
Go old fashioned
Don’t be afraid to talk to the press to get your brand in the spotlight. The Covid-19 outbreak has dominated the news. Journalists have become desperate for a new angle or something unrelated, and creative stories have emerged. Beauty tips for Zoom calls, apps for home working, and home exercise tips are just a few examples of business marketing ideas that came as a result of the pandemic. Motoring correspondents, travel writers, and other content creators need to keep working too, so use their expertise to find an angle for your crisis communication plan.
Don’t exploit the situation
Exploiting the situation by raising prices or misleading customers should never be part of a crisis communication plan. Your customer-base trusts you, and if they realize you’re unreliable during a crisis, that trust will be broken for good. Now is not the time for communications companies to increase prices or mislead customers into making a purchase.
Now is not the time to make jokes either. Yes, be authentic. Yes, have personality. If you have a humorous brand voice, maintain consistency. But make sure to use humor appropriately in your business branding, if you use it at all. Avoid joking out of nowhere to make light of the situation. You may think it wry and clever, but you never know how the virus has impacted your audience, and the last thing you want is to come off as dismissive.
Now you know some key ways to maintain a crisis communications plan, but how should you communicate post-quarantine? What will business branding campaigns look like once we reach the “new normal”?
It’s tempting to avoid spending money on marketing right now, but that would be a mistake. Spend smarter with these key tips for taking your business branding out of quarantine.
Since your business marketing ideas and insights are now out of date, it’s best to start small and take a trial and error approach. Speak to your whole team about new ideas. This will help make sure your new business branding strategies are appropriate for the life changes your customers have endured.
Look at other markets to get an idea of how they will change. Try to stay on top of these shifts and how they could impact your business branding.
Eighty-nine percent of consumers want to keep up lockdown habits. Can you tap into your audience’s new daily walk or baking habit?
Business marketing ideas like content creation are cost-effective. Avoid huge business branding campaigns by writing blogs and using them for social media content. Devise a short-term content plan to keep your business branding engaging and affordable.
Fewer companies are advertising at the moment, so cost-per-click has dropped in pay-per-click advertising. Facebook ads went down from eleven cents per click in January to nine cents per click in March. Now is the time to get more for your money on advertising.
Conversions have also taken a dip, especially businesses like travel. Consider offering payment plans so people can spend bit by bit.
Look to other markets to see if a shift in focus makes sense for you. Italy and Spain experienced extreme changes during quarantine, but now they’re returning to normal life. However, folks in the UK are still isolated. China is open, but Latin America is struggling. Pivot your focus and direct digital resources at new target markets.
The past few months have been wildly unpredictable. Most of us know it’s not over yet, but there are still ways we can move forward with business branding despite the uncertainty we face. As Einstein once said, “In the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity,” and there’s no reason why you can’t be the one to grab onto it.