30 Jul 2020 Crisis marketing

6 ways to absolutely nail crisis marketing

women using laptop

You likely had a marketing plan for 2020, or for each quarter, or at the bare minimum you have a note with ideas scribbled on. No matter how thorough your plan (and contingencies) might have been, I’d bet that you didn’t plan for coronavirus. If you did, please let us in on your future-reading abilities.   

As marketing teams, we’re often shouting about how flexible and adaptable we are and now’s the time to put our money where our mouths are.   

If you’re thinking ‘now isn’t the time to be marketing!’ then you’re wrong (sorry, not sorry). Some of the world’s most successful brands were created during a recession – Disney, Airbnb and Uber, to name but a few.

What is crisis marketing?

Crisis marketing is how you communicate from your brand to your audience, during difficult times. This usually means adapting your marketing strategy to make it more appropriate for the times you find yourself in.

Here are our 6 ways to nail marketing in a crisis

Despite the natural temptation to pause or stop marketing when things get tough, it’s important to keep the momentum around your brand going. So, let’s look at how you can hone your crisis marketing plan.  

1. Keep calm and communicate   

Let’s start with (what should be) the most obvious point: Keep communicating, with customers, employees, stakeholders– anyone that you need to. At the outbreak of coronavirus, many businesses chose to stay silent out of fear. The problem is, this silence can be interpreted in many ways and you’re in control of none of them. Put your fear aside and take the reins when it comes to communication.  

Crisis or not, your communications should always be open, honest and clear. Sometimes that means being open about your uncertainty, particularly if the crisis is occurring outside your business and, therefore, out of your control.  

2. Review and refine your offering  

Crises trigger changes in your audience and the products and services they seek. When disaster strikes, reviewing and adapting what you offer should be a top priority.   

When coronavirus struck the UK and lockdown began, many businesses were forced to close unexpectedly. This led to restaurants switching to takeaway mode and personal trainers moving their services online. Finding ways to adapt in a crisis can be the difference between sinking or swimming.   

If your business can continue to operate throughout the crisis, taking time to assess your offering is still key. Depending on the nature of the crisis, make sure you’re not offending anyone and that your products and services meet the demands of your audience.   

3. Email still has its place  

Believe it or not, the first email was sent almost 50 years ago. As a method of communication, it’s come a long way since then and has been a staple of marketing strategies since the late 1970s. According to Statista, approximately 281 billion emails were sent in 2018 and this is expected to rise to more than 347 billion by 2022.   

When it comes to crisis marketing, email allows you to contact your audience directly. Sending a message straight to their inbox with all the information you need to tell them is one thing removed from their to-do list in a crisis. For example, if you closed your restaurant during the COVID outbreak but reopened on a takeaway-only basis, be sure to let your customers know via email.  

4. Incorporate blogging into your brand strategy  

Writing a blog can take time but, while it’s not a quick task, the effort is well worth it. Understandably, you might want to spend your time working on activities that fill the bottom of the sales funnel as they’re the highest converting.  

Blogging should be an invaluable part of your marketing strategy because it’s your chance to show off your expertise in your field. You can show your website visitors just how much you know and why you’re the right choice for them to work with.   

5. Focus on social media  

The best thing about social media? It’s free. Well, sort of. It costs the time of your employee or agency but there are no additional costs such as subscriptions or add-ons. This makes it the ideal communication channel for your crisis marketing – there are no cost concerns to worry about.   

Over the past few months, social media usage has risen with more people staying at home than usual. You can use your social media channels to put out important messages, keep up to date with your audience or just to add some cheer during difficult times.  

6. Lead with visual  

Crisis or not, this is a rule that we swear by. People remember 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read and a huge 80% of what they see and do. The more visual and interactive your marketing, the higher retention and engagement levels you’re likely to achieve.   

Just remember to review your imagery during the crisis to make sure it’s always appropriate.   

Whenever a crisis occurs, your to-do list suddenly gets a lot longer. It’s important that you don’t let your marketing slip so, if you need a helping hand, take a look at our relaunch package

Crisis management marketing examples

Ford’s helping hand

As a business that’s been around for more than a century, Ford has seen (and survived) many crises. The car company has extended its existing Ford Credit program that offers financial relief to buyers struck by disasters to include those affected by coronavirus.

They also dropped their planned ads and replaced them with promos about their efforts to use their factories to manufacture medical and protective equipment.

IKEA’s home campaign

When lockdown began in March and people across the globe were forced to stay inside, IKEA reminded their audience about the beauty of being at home. From a child’s first home to being the place where you can be yourself, IKEA’s message was about making the most of being in the place you made your home.

Zara’s change of focus

Inditex, owner of fashion brand, Zara, put their factories to good use during the COVID-19 outbreak by making the switch from clothing to medical supply manufacturing.

Executive chairman, Pablo Isla, said:

Thanks to the companies strong financial position and principles we stand ready to respond in any way necessary.” 

Post-COVID recovery packages

The world is preparing to reopen for business and you don’t want to be left behind. We can support you with a strategic plan that puts you on the path to make your brand the best its ever been. Find out more.

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