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These are weird times that we’re living in. We’re walking through uncertain times and it’s affecting us personally and professionally. Many businesses have had to shut their doors and  others are trying to figure out how to adapt so that they can survive this crisis. 

One thing that we can guarantee you should not stop during this time? Marketing your business

Studies have shown that businesses who continue marketing during a crisis or economic down turn are more likely to survive and thrive through it and after it, when compared to businesses who slash their marketing budget. (Additionally, if you slam on the brakes and halt your marketing, you are going to have a costly time ramping back up again. I like to think of it as a plane. Don’t bring the plane in for a landing – continue on the ascent). 

But, how can you continue to market your business in a way that isn’t sleazy and promotes true connection with your customers and potential customers? We’ve got some tips for you!

  • Address Your Customers & Acknowledge the Situation. 

Thank them for their patronage over the years that you’ve been in business. Acknowledge the situation and remind them, that we’re in this together. Daily life is different for everyone right now – but we’ve made it through hard times before and as long as we stick together, we’ll make it through. 

  • Focus on the Good News.
    During a time where every news outlet, social media feed, and radio station is focusing on the bad news, provide some good news!  This can be done by thanking front line and essential workers, bringing light to other small businesses who are affected, sharing how your business is helping, and how your customers can join you to help their community. You could even ask customers how they are helping their community and share their stories!
  • Be a Resource.
    We’ve seen many businesses pivot to fulfill needs for PPE, staff volunteering for a relevant cause, or providing meals for medical professionals. You may not be able to make grand gestures, but don’t forget you can be a resource for your customers at this time, too! Here are some examples:
    • If you’re a boutique, with many people being cost conscious, you can share tips on how to create multiple different looks with items already in their closet. 
    • If you’re a tutor, you can share educational resources, activities, and perhaps virtual services. 
    • If you’re a coffee shop, share recipes for classic or specialty drinks that people can recreate at home. 

The list goes on and on, but think of how you can provide help and support to your customers at this time. Foster Community!
We use the term social media very nonchalantly today. But, think about it – the entire point is to be social! It’s in the name! Encourage your customers to engage and interact, not just with your business, but with each other. (Remember – you need to engage with customers too – more than just a like on their comment!)

Let’s revisit the resource ideas from above and see how customers can become engaged and build community around your brand:

  • Boutique Re-Style Ideas: Share your brand tips in a post and encourage people to share a re-invented outfit they create! Encourage everyone to comment and share ideas on how to style each other. 
  • Tutor: Host a virtual workshop or trivia time. You could even make a certain day of the week your trivia day on social media and people could win a prize if they are correct. 
  • Coffee Shop: Encourage people to post videos and photos of themselves recreating their favorite drinks at-home. You could even have them submit directly to you and create side-by-side comparisons to vote on the best looking drinks. 

Don’t Forget! It’s important to engage with other business owners, too! They are just as uncertain about this time and future as you are, and could use some encouragement! Pop into their comments or direct message and send a nice note. 

One of the best examples I’ve seen during this time is Guinness’ St. Patrick’s Day commercial. 

Why is it so great?

  • They addressed their loyal customer base and the importance of sticking together – not only encouraging brand loyalty, but also a greater sense of human decency and connection.
  • They addressed the current global issue and encouraged their customers to safely celebrate (referring not only to drinking responsibly, but also to CDC guidelines).
  • Encouraged people to still patron their favorite local restaurants and pubs – to support local businesses – as well as to thank those who are first responders and healthcare workers.
  • All of the video content is B-roll from prior footage – which means that they did not have to film anything new and therefore, maintained social distancing and followed CDC guidelines.
  • Reinforced their longevity and brand loyalty; encouraged everyone that they will make it through this.
  • Finally, they announced their Guinness Gives Back Fund and that they will be committing $500,000 to help the community.

Not everyone will remember the good marketing that happened during this situation, but they will remember the bad. They’ll also remember your brand’s response. It’s more important to remain connected on a human level with your customers, than focusing on sales tactics. By addressing your customers, acknowledging the situation, sharing good news, being a resource, and fostering community, you will encourage goodwill and brand loyalty for years to come.

Alyssa Gay is a Bradenton native and graduate of the University of Florida. She is passionate about the Bradenton community and is a strong advocate for local businesses. Alyssa Gay Consulting is a marketing agency that elevates brands and businesses by harnessing the power of social media and digital marketing.

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