Brand Marketing in the Coronavirus Age

Whatever you think of Covid-19 and the danger it poses, nobody can deny that the crisis brought about wholly disrupted the way we live and work. In a few short weeks, the entire world went from “business as usual” to full protection mode. Although the situation mostly changed for the better since the early days of the crisis, things are not what they used to be. It is especially true for business owners – if a company continues to operate the way it used to and hopes that things will work out somehow, it is unlikely to survive. Everything, from distribution to marketing, has to be reinvented from scratch. So how do you market your brand in the coronavirus age?

1. Be thoughtful

Crises make people especially sensitive to the tone of messages they receive. People are also quick to organize and come down upon businesses whose behavior they perceive as insensitive or offensive. This means that you have to be particularly careful about both the content and your communication tone. Avoid anything that can be seen as cynical or sarcastic, instead opting for positive, reassuring, empathetic rhetoric.

2. Support your community

You can now view it from a purely pragmatic or a humanistic viewpoint, but a crisis – any crisis – is not a time when you should look for ways to maximize your profits. While most crises offer such opportunities, at least to some industries, and it can be too tempting (especially when the future looks as uncertain as it does today), going after immediate profits right now is going to come back to bite you later. The crisis will end, but people will remember you as somebody who was opportunistic enough to triple the prices when they did not anywhere else to buy what they needed or did something equally unsavory. In the long term, it will cost you reputation and customers.

So, whether you believe in giving back to your community or not, behave as if you do. Instead of increasing prices, offer your products or services at a discount to people suffering from the consequences of the crisis, or even donate them (just make sure to use custom packaging with a clearly visible logo to make it obvious where they come from). It will be a gesture your clients will remember for years to come, and it is bound to win you the loyalty of at least some of them.

3. Employ user-generated content

Starting to use UGC or broadening its application kills two birds with one stone: it saves costs in the period when it is particularly important, and brings your business closer to your clients when they are especially prone to drift away. The thing people need most during any crisis, and particularly during a healthcare crisis, is connection and safety. Focusing on user-generated content allows you to create a more homely feel about your brand, build up trust and relationship between you and your customers, make them feel that you support them in their hour of need. They will remember it when things go back to normal.

4. Listen and react

Many times during the current crisis, the situation changed overnight as the new developments became known and immediately started influencing the public. A course of action adopted yesterday was already outdated the day after. Although the things slowed down considerably as Covid-19 turned from a new threat nobody knew anything about into an unpleasant but familiar reality, the general idea stays the same. In order to manage and promote your brand successfully, be it on social media or elsewhere, you have to listen to what your audience has to say and try to understand the situation. You can use anything from Google Alerts to specialized social listening tools – just make sure you use the information you receive immediately.

5. Stay connected

It may sound counter-intuitive when businesses are encouraged to distance from their customers and move online. However, during this crisis, it is particularly important to stay in contact with both your regular and potential clients, keep reminding them about yourself, and demonstrating that your business remains current and relevant in their lives, even if these lives are nothing like before.

The situation keeps changing – but these tips will remain important throughout the entire pandemic.

Photo: GettyImages
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