Marketing During a Crisis

Diamond Media Solutions has changed. America has changed. Hell, the world has changed.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, I am obviously referring to COVID-19 or the Coronavirus. We have stood (at a safe distance) and watched as a lot of our favorite businesses closed their doors, sporting events and other large gatherings of people have been cancelled, and most of us are social distancing ourselves from friends or even family.

In mid-March, the Diamond team split up and began working remotely indefinitely in an effort to keep each other and our families safe. And now here we are; schools are shut down, grocery stores are understocked, and the Governor of Florida has issued a Stay At Home policy. Work life for Diamond has obviously changed as well. Our morning production meeting has turned into a company-wide video conference call, and we have had to rework a majority of our strategies with clients. The work hasn’t changed though. We have been working hard to continue offering the same quality work we present to clients regularly just without the same benefits of working in the same building.

Diamond has changed quite a bit in the last month. But I don’t think we are alone in that. In fact, I know we aren’t. We have been able to watch how huge name brands have handled their marketing strategies in the current business climate. So in my attempt to pick up writing again for the first time since college, I’m going to summarize the top 5 things I believe are key to remember when you are marketing your company during a time of crisis. 

1) Evaluate Your Imagery and Language and Adjust Running/Scheduled Campaigns

First and foremost, review all content to ensure you don’t have anything scheduled or posted that would be in poor taste, could come off as insensitive, or is not applicable because of closures and cancellations. Push timelines back if they potentially have content that may not be appropriate at this time. Obviously, some things you have decided not to run may be able to see the light of day down the line. So, I wouldn’t scrap everything just because you can’t execute the idea now.

2) Stay Connected.

I put this one second because I feel like it is one of the most important things you can do in times of crisis. There are two groups of people you need to stay connected to in times like this – your team and your clients. Communication between employees is crucial to continuing a sense of normalcy. Going from working in close proximity to each other to working remote is frustrating and miscommunication is bound to happen. However, it is definitely doable. Diamond, like countless other companies, has been able to switch to video conferences as a primary mode of communication and though we aren’t physically together, we have been thriving on this change so far.

It is important to stay connected to your clients as well with emphasis on communicating about the proactive measures you’re taking, closures, and business changes related to COVID-19. Although these messages might be getting memed on social media, they do add value to customer relationships. They let your client know you are thinking of them. It is also pretty important to keep an eye on quarantine advice based on where your client is. Every area is on a different timeline, so you have to be proactive in your communications to make sure you’re taking the right steps to market the right things to the right places.

3) Highlight What You Can Do To Help

If you have a business that can do something to help, you should help. Pretty simple. The products or services you can offer to help are definitely something that deserves the attention of those who can benefit from them. Communicate those benefits and make sure to clarify your unique value in this stressful time, and share it. Even if what you do doesn’t directly help singular people, you can still provide value to them. How can you educate, entertain, or inspire people stuck at home all day? Bottom line is that if you focus on helping people (and not patting yourself on the back), your marketing doesn’t have to stop.

4) Don’t Capitalize On The Crisis

This should really apply to any tragedy or crisis, but it’s particularly important to remember in this climate of worry and fear.

  • Don’t be an alarmist. It is important to keep people informed, but don’t add to the panic. Try to keep from using overly dramatic language and try to limit sharing articles about the pandemic (I just wouldn’t share any at all – its not our job to report the news.)
  • Avoid bragging. A lot of people are not working during this time and are genuinely worried. So it might be a good idea to utilize humility and empathy with anything your brand says in the near future.
  • Mind your tone. PLEASE do not use anything like, “19% off during our Hot COVID-19 sales!”. It seems a bit disrespectful and tactless.

5) This Won’t Last Forever

This quarantine will be a thing of the past one day. We obviously don’t know when that will be but being prepared for the next step in post COVID-19 life is definitely something that should be thought about. The good news is, if workflow has potentially slowed down, it could be a good time to start thinking about the next steps your brand wants to take.

It goes without saying that there will be challenges after this is all over but working to better yourself and those around you may give you an advantage once things resume as usual. Find something new that pertains to your business or makes your day-to-day job easier and implement the heck out of it. There’s no telling what conditions will be once we are allowed to leave quarantine but any new found talent or ideas that will progress your team will, at the very least, make you feel like you did something productive to help your company out.

Now is also the time to begin to prepare for the “next” cultural moment and determine what content will be most relevant and impactful. Once life starts to go back to normal, sales messaging will be out in full force. Count on that. Some brands are going to want to hit the consumers hard and fast with everything they’ve got. And while that window of time, post-quarantine is going to prove incredibly important to gather your consumers back, you’re going to want to remember that the consumer is still a person. Continue to show that you are still willing to help in any way your company can. Great brands solve problems for the consumer, not just sell them things.

During times of crisis and uncertainty, we are reminded that marketing is not life and death. We know that it does affect people though and I speak for Diamond when I say that we are willing and able to continue working to develop a new normal in this bizarre time and we will come out of this mess stronger than we ever have been as a brand.

We wish everyone health and safety at this time.

Benjamin Tomlin is a Graphic Designer for Diamond Media Solutions.

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