The coronavirus (COVID-19) and related regulations have forced the world economy to its knees. But no matter how bad the situation is there are ways you can facilitate your sales.
There even are marketing opportunities here. And it has nothing to do with profiting FROM human suffering, so please don’t take this out of context.
First of all, I’m no expert on marketing during recession. This is the first big recession I’ve been dealing with in business. As a matter of fact, this is the first of its kind for everyone. Never in our lives has a virus caused such measures and thus distress.
But I understand marketing trends and I love to analyze ads. And I know quite a bit about successful online marketing.
I want to be helpful so I collected the best strategic marketing insights during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic for you. I do this without asking anything in return, meaning I don’t ask for your money or email address for this valuable info. You can even download this as a PDF file to your devices.
My mission here is to help you so much with your online marketing that you just naturally want to come back and maybe buy something from me later when things get better.
All that being said, let’s dive in.
What happens during recessions?
What happens during recessions? Well, people stop buying bad products and services.
A lot of people start to cut excessive costs in their lives and businesses. Families and entrepreneurs go through their expenses and consider whether all those things are really important.
Companies whose products and services are seen as non-essential are the first to go.
Such a situation almost forces you to defend your brand, product or service and justify why it’s important—and more especially—why it’s important right now.
What you can do now is to explain them why it’s important and why they need it.
What is the reason why they shouldn’t cut your service from their budget? Maybe there are negative outcomes in this situation when your solution is not used.
Use this in marketing
– You could tell your customers and prospects why they can’t afford to be without your product or service.
– Think how the coronavirus pandemic has changed their lives and how you can solve their problems they are facing right now.
Stand out from the rest
You have to have a business that is willing to go through the hard times. Being able to keep producing and keep your output up during hard times is not only an advantage you need but also shows a good spirit.
When people are afraid or uncertain they look toward genuine authorities. Could you offer some credible data in your field that would help your customers and prospects and therefore make them feel better? It would create an opportunity to become one of the industry leaders. People would remember who helped them during the bad times, right?
To stand out from the rest during the coronavirus pandemic you need to show that
- You really care about others,
- You are trustworthy and
- You can offer safety.
These three messages are now more important than ever, because right now people feel (and are) vulnerable.
So, let’s walk through the benefits of these messages.
Build trust by showing empathy
Expressing empathy and a willingness to act compassionately toward others can bring a competitive advantage in business. When your company is perceived as empathetic, your sales will increase.
When your customers see that you understand what they are going through, it’s easy to have rapport with you.
In other words, letting people know about your ability to see the world from their perspective builds trust. They also see that you are not trying to get rich from their suffering. Instead, your actions are based on a genuine good-will.
And, because you’re actually helping them instead of trying to sell them just anything you can, or trying to profit from their bad situation, you’ll stand out from the rest in the marketplace.
Being empathic is more important now than it has ever been.
Another way to show empathy is to be flexible.
For example, you could waive late fees temporarily. You could help with cancellations and refunds, defer scheduled payments or delay first payments. You could give your customers some paid features of your service for free.
When you’re helping them, and they’re getting value from you, your brand is perceived as the kindest.
Build trust by helping
Because helping builds trust to you, and therefore accelerates the sales process, prove that you’re there to help.
To show that you care about your customers and people who are in a bad situation, actually help them.
According to Google (and Benenson Strategy Group) “84% of U.S. consumers surveyed say that how companies or brands act during the current market is important to their loyalty moving forward“.
Do your best to enrich people’s lives somehow and be useful. Share your knowledge. Give them something helpful. Give as much as you can.
Giving to people not only helps them and the community, but also builds trust between you and your customers. You’ll also find that it will drive more visitors to your website.
Use this in marketing
– If the product is particularly useful during a pandemic, you can encourage people to buy for their loved ones too.
– Maybe you could donate for every purchase made?
Think about all the best reasons why people should trust your company, especially now. What precautions the company takes to prevent the virus from spreading and to keep its’ customers safe?
It helps to build trust if people can see who is responsible for the company’s actions. Could you give a face for the company and make the communication more personal?
Regularity increases confidence. If you can, update or publish more often and consistently. You should publish credible and real-time information about what you do.
Keep your customers updated on any new information that may concern them. Remember to share this information on all of your online channels and where people try to find you.
Also, be extremely transparent to ease consumers’ concerns.
Use this in marketing
– Empasize that it’s safe to use your products or services.
– Let your audience know what precautions the brand takes so it’s safe to use your products or services.
Emphasize longevity and well-being
Now is the time when people need content that entertains and connects. Positive messaging alleviates anxiety.
You could shift the focus away from death tolls and anything scary by highlighting longevity and promoting wellness in your content.
Use of social proof
During times of uncertainty, people feel safer to be in a group. Even though the coronavirus pandemic has made it very undesirable to gather physically together, people still feel safer when they can “follow the herd”. And that’s what they do now. Look what happened to toilet paper in supermarkets.
In other words, social proof means that people are more likely to take action on something if they think other people in a similar situation to them are also taking it.
So, based on this fact I would recommend using social proof in your marketing during the coronavirus pandemic in the way that it features people, not brands.
Use this in marketing
Your message should say that
—A lot of other people, just like you, have done the decision to buy.
This drives them to follow the path that others have taken to avoid a bad situation.
Oh, and if you DON’T WANT that people, for example your customers, take a certain action, like sneezing all over the place or whatever, be really careful with the choise of words and images you use.
In that case, do not highlight that a lot of people are doing the wrong thing. Highlighting it would normalize it in people’s minds and actually entice them to make the wrong choise. It’s because people want to follow what others are doing.
Instead, show a bigger group of people behaving desirably. At least avoid to exaggerate the frequency of the problem.
New personal values
Due to regulations, people have had to change their everyday lives and give up some of their hobbies. Many have done that voluntarily.
For this reason, those who see such changes as important for society as a whole may find it pretty difficult to understand people who, for example, don’t seem to obey regulations or who like to show off their cool lifestyles.
Lifestyles of the rich and the famous may not be the most interesting or admirable message at the moment. Research by WinBigMedia shows that status, influence, good public image, being successful and admired are the values that influence the least consumer decisions during the coronavirus pandemic.
This is why you should consider VERY carefully what you post on social media.
For example, I love downhill mountain biking. Every mountain biker agrees that downhill mountain biking is considered an extreme sport and it has safety concerns. Medical staff and authorities have appealed to people to be cautious during this pandemic, so people don’t end up in emergency rooms due to such accidents. This is why I haven’t gone riding the scariest paths in the woods lately.
Now, if you look at the Covid-19 Consumer Report I linked above, you’ll find that safety and helping others are currently the primary personal values that influence decision making.
While no professional athlete releases new videos that look dangerous (they are also role models for many), some still practice the sport as if they hadn’t even heard of such warnings. From this point of view, their actions simply look stupid.
Use this in marketing
Personal values such as helping and caring, preserving safety, treating every person equally and justly are important and influence consumers’ decisions the most.
What else you can do
Do your best to respond quickly to changing situations.
TARGET ADS to those who are actively searching ‘coronavirus’, and maybe even located in the coronavirus hotspots. They understand the importance of your coronavirus related messages. So, this way you can exclude those who don’t care about your message.
LOCALITY is also now in a prominent position. People trust the local media and get their info from there. So, you could advertise in local media or you could somehow take advantage of locality in your advertising message.
Keep your focus on the business and avoid consuming fear-mongering news media (that’s how THEY sell and it’s totally uncool). Set goals that redirect your attention from negativity. Try to stay positive because negativity is a bad state of mind.
As mentioned, social proof is powerful in this situation. It could also make you vulnerable to this marketing tactic. Concider carefully all your decisions. Ask yourself, are the actions of others right for you.
Check that your customers are still using the same channels you use.
Invest in yourself.
If you’re working from home, design your work space to encourage different productive behaviors.
You could also subscribe to my email list and download my brand new eBook Break Through The Ceiling for free. It’s an 8 step approach that works best for winning more sales.
Check out this page where Google shares their insights. Maybe you find some of them helpful.
Every storm runs out of rain. If you haven’t already started, start planning for better times now. That’s when you’re prepared for the new opportunities that come up.
Like Robert Cialdini puts it, “If you prepare for the dawn now, when it arrives you’ll be much more successful than others, who are looking only at the darkness”.
Update 18 Aug, 2020.
One of my readers suggested that I add free printable posters for local businesses to keep employees aware and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
It’s a great idea!
Unfortunately, I don’t have time to make them myself now, but here you will find several free printable posters: