It’s no secret that our world has recently been turned upside-down. The spread of COVID-19 has impacted businesses around the country, including ours, leaving many to make difficult decisions as we learn to adjust to a new normal. In response, some businesses are choosing to pull back on marketing efforts and shift their focus in-house in an attempt to simply survive. We get it. We too have felt the urge to minimize digital marketing as we navigate the do’s and don’ts of what is and isn’t appropriate during this time. We’re here to tell you, however, that despite the impulse to ditch your digital marketing plan, it’s more important now than ever to maintain a clear and positive presence online.
As the world retreats inside, online activity has spiked. Consumers are turning to their phones and computers to not only stay up to date on the state of the world, but to also escape the deluge of never-ending negative news. Because of this, now is the perfect time to get in front of consumers through digital marketing. The businesses who are best able to pivot their approach will be the ones who are able to ride the wave of change and maintain success because of it.
It’s important, however, to thoughtfully approach your digital marketing efforts during this sensitive time. Shifting your focus from “how can I help me” to “how can we help you” will be most effective. It’s also important to check in on your employees and co-workers as the workplace transforms from cubbies and conference rooms to kitchen tables and Zoom calls. Maintaining productivity during this time is also a major key to overall success. Don’t forget the community at large, who will be turning to local businesses and organizations leading the way.
If you find yourself struggling to adjust to the changing times, or if you’re just not sure where to start, we’ve compiled five tips that can help drive business success during coronavirus.
1. Stay Positive and Learn to Adapt
Yes, times are tough. Stay at home mandates are continually extended and we really don’t know when life will return to normal. Although the future is uncertain, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude. Why? Because this will end; we will get through this.
After all, in China, where coronavirus originated, travel bans are being lifted and life is slowly returning to normal, albeit a new normal. The businesses that maintain workplace morale and learn to adapt to the changing landscape are the ones that will also maintain success through the storm.
One way to lift team morale is to do what Entrepreneur calls “virtual team building,” including allocating time for one-on-ones. “Think creatively about how to keep people motivated and small ways to get groups to continue building relationships over video conference and instant messaging channels.” Our team at VDG has incorporated weekly Zoom calls and is using Slack company-wide in an attempt to maintain communication while we all work remotely.
It’s also important to learn to adapt because, like many major worldwide events, coronavirus will reshape society in lasting ways. According to Politico, crisis moments present opportunity, including “more sophisticated and flexible use of technology, less polarization, a revived appreciation for the outdoors and life’s other simple pleasures.” Those who can capitalize on the shifting momentum will be the ones to lead the pack once the dust has settled.
2. Do Good Through Your Brand
As the Harvard Business Review recently said, “People will remember brands for their acts of good in a time of crisis, particularly if done with true heart and generosity.” More so now than ever, people are looking for the helpers, as Mr. Rogers once famously said. Be one of the helpers.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mom would say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
— Mr Rogers
These acts of good can take many different forms, from donations to organizations that are providing assistance to those on the front lines of the pandemic to simply providing feel-good content to their customers.
A local example in our community in Georgia is of local brewery Good Word Brewing, which repurposed itself as a soup kitchen and pantry after it was forced to close its taproom and switch to to-go orders only. The brewery transformed itself into a one-stop shop where customers “can order pounds of ground beef, bags of produce and rolls of toilet paper from the restaurant’s ‘pantry’ alongside takeout orders, family-size meals and to-go beer and wine,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
While this may not be doable for all businesses, the ability of Good Word to adjust its model to better serve the public during a time of crisis allowed it to earn nationwide attention as one of the “helpers.” And who do you think people will want to patron when life returns to normal? The helpers.
3. Learn to Optimally Manage a Remote Team
If managing a remote team is new to you, we’re sure you have many questions, including:
- How do I maintain productivity?
- How can we communicate effectively?
- How do I support my team if I can’t physically be with them?
In order to best manage a distributed team, business leaders will need to, once again, adjust the way they communicate. One simple way to do this is to trade phone calls for video calls, which better encourage engagement and interaction. Plus, video calls cut down on multi-tasking since everyone can physically see each other, meaning participants are more present during the conversation.
When managing a remote team, it’s better to err on the side of overcommunication. When you’re in an office environment you regularly communicate with your team and co-workers; it’s the norm. But when the team is all working at different locations, that daily interaction is hindered and therefore essential communication falls by the wayside. To alleviate some of the loss of communication, consider hosting daily check-ins with your team. These check-ins will allow you to oversee productivity, continue the line of communication and add support when needed.
4. Increase Social (Media) Engagement While Social Distancing
As we mentioned earlier, people are spending more time online now than ever. Adults are working from home, kids are logging on for virtual school, and most people are keeping in touch via social media while stuck at home.
66% of social media users believe their social media usage habits will increase in the event they are confined to their home due to the Coronavirus.
— Yahoo Finance
This influx of reach, engagement and time spent on social platforms is a major opportunity for businesses to put themselves in front of their target audience. Consumers are gravitating toward useful, engaging content, so now is the ideal time to refocus efforts on social media, including producing quality content consistently.
5. Use the Additional Time to Finish Your Digital To-Do List
According to Thrive, search traffic has increased significantly following government-mandated stay at home orders. This means more people are online searching Google and browsing through websites. If your website is outdated or features stale content, now is the time to dedicate resources to a website refresh.
Give your website a face-lift. Write timely articles for your blog. Invest in new photography or graphics. Dust off your SEO strategy so that people are better able to find your website through those essential keywords. Most importantly, make sure you have an online presence that attracts customers and has a positive user experience.
By thoughtfully approaching your digital marketing strategies during coronavirus, businesses can effectively maintain success while navigating uncharted waters. If you have more questions about your digital strategy, or if you’re interested in learning how a digital marketing firm can provide additional assistance, contact Veugeler Design Group today for more information.