I don’t have to tell you it’s a new day and new way to do business. Every email, every social media post, and every notice begins with similar messaging on how the organization or business is suspending, changing or cancelling their hours, services, capabilities and events.
The impact on our business and social lives also impacts our economy and many businesses are concerned about life now, during and after we make it through to the other side. Whether we dip into a recession or we rapidly recover from the changes companies are mandated to go through, here are some firsthand insight and recommended marketing approaches to help stabilize and grow – yes grow – your organization during this unpredictable time – whether you are a healthcare organization, a financial services firm, a college or primary school, or part of any other industry.
- Go Big. When our most recent economic
downturn hit in 2008, one of our national financial services client decided to substantially
grow its marketing efforts rather than shrink like its competitors. Its
ambitious approach allowed it to be a voice of reassurance and leadership
during a volatile time, and not only maintained its market share, but grew it
substantially – and continues to maintain 12 years later.
- Lesson: Do the opposite of your competitors and separate yourself.
- Implement an Integrated Approach. Consumers and businesses are learning to live a “new normal” lifestyle and with that in mind, you may need to identify and implement new ways in which to effectively communicate to your audiences.
Are you a college or private school concerned about the lack of opportunity for tours/visits during this critical admissions time? Why not develop a virtual tour or online tour with a guide specifically dedicated to prospective student interests? Are you a healthcare organization seeing office visits dwindle? How about developing interviews/videos and/or blogs with thought leadership on what individuals can do during this timeframe to work through challenges/symptoms? Are you a financial services organization closing down your lobby? Can you create a direct mail campaign or special call-in assistance so individuals can take advantage of news/special rates?
- Lesson: Identify new ways to reach your audience – and attract new customers.
- Create a Microsite. Your website should always be considered your virtual front door and now, more than ever, it has the potential to lay out an extremely inviting welcome mat to current clients and prospects.
Develop an individual microsite with the information and insight that might be most attractive to audience(s) right now. Is your school providing an innovative approach to education that can be shared front and center? Are you offering new interest rates that will allow individuals to refinance? Are you a healthcare organization offering a customized phone line for patients who have concerns? Put these front and center rather than forcing your audiences to dig for the information.
- Lesson: With a bit more time on their hands, individuals may take the extra effort to check out competitors if you’re not easily providing relevant information to them. Be their first and only source – and make it easy.
- Connect on Social Media. It’s no secret that more individuals are getting their information on social media during this time than ever before. Make sure you’re in the mix. Develop a vlog (video blog) or pertinent blogs to communicate. They shouldn’t be about your products or services only, but more critically provide insight and ideas during this unmotivating timeframe.
As a school, can you highlight one of your awesome teachers providing a lesson plan to give individuals a glimpse of your culture and academic excellence? If a financial services firm, can you provide a webinar for different ages on what to consider during this economic downturn? Can you as healthcare organization show your caring bedside manner by offering insight through a video?
- Lesson: Determine a new way to connect with your audience – show your expertise and your personality.
- Identify New Technology Needs. As we all practice social distancing, a new wave of challenges and opportunities arise. From a public relations standpoint, more and more media are requiring interviews through various technology channels such as Skype, Zoom or Facetime. These technology options are not just beneficial for marketing, but for internal communications as well. While your organization may be forced into looking at these technology options based on the state of business right now, why not see it as an opportunity to lean into the change and make lemonade out of lemons?
For example, rather than a lengthy email to your employees (most who will not read), can leadership develop an interactive webinar in which team members can see and hear directly from the C-suite on the current situation?
- Lesson: Those organizations that have technology offerings will definitely have an advantage in the public relations setting today. Additionally, it provides excellent opportunities for your internal audiences to stay in touch with each other and leadership to connect more personally with staff.
Each day a news conference on a local, state and federal level is mandating us – for appropriate health reasons – to continue to live our professional and personal lives in a ‘new normal’ capacity. What we’ve shared with staff and clients is that it will not be forever, but it will be for now.
Lean into the changes, think differently from others, and you’ll find a different outcome which will benefit your organization inside and out.