How do you effectively plan to communicate and market your business in times of crisis?
Every company has been asking themselves this as we navigate these unchartered waters. We all want to make sure that we are communicating effectively to customers, vendors, employees, and friends. While the tasks have changed and the urgency has increased, the method by which we strategically communicate remains the same. When confronted with a problem, whether a small one or one on the scale of a pandemic, it is helpful to break out your needs into stages.
Step 1: Define Immediate Communication Needs
Priorities should center around consistent, clear communication to customers, vendors, employees and other partners. Dedicated (and organized) web pages and knowledge centers with all updates and changes are essential to provide clarity.
Avoid sending out too many emails, written letters, or social media posts. Too many sporadic messages are easy to lose track of and difficult to manage. Not to mention, they can contradict each other. Defining methods that can easily help people answer their questions is crucial to combatting confusion and helping them move forward.
Step 2: Anticipate Intermediate Needs
Depending on the scale of the problem and how long it may last, you’ll need to identify what position you want to take during this crisis. That position will be informed by your values, and those values should trickle into all of your correspondence and materials. If a value is honesty, be honest about the pain associated with crisis and how you are overcoming it.
It may be necessary to pause existing advertising or marketing campaigns in order to amplify efforts in other areas. Now is the time to hone in on professional development, innovation, and finding ways to safeguard against future risk.
However, marketing and advertising activities should not halt completely. Consider ways that you are promoting care, responsibility, forward-thinking. How are you treating employees, encouraging positive change, and promoting ways to get through this? These choices can be a critical part of your marketing strategy, which may include hiring new talent or attracting new customers.
People will be curious how you treated others during challenging times. How do you want your actions to be remembered?
Step 3: Plan for the Future
While no one has a crystal ball, we can plan for various scenarios. Brainstorm industries that will be thriving in the next three months, six months, a year. New niches and needs will emerge, and those may be opportunities to adapt and pivot.
With that said, there will always be industries that will be hard hit. How can you lend a hand, and help them move forward? How can you be the solution to some of their problems?
A critical portion of your long-term plan should be to reflect and adapt. Have the challenging times caused your company to reassess its values? Have you noticed your company pillars, processes, or messaging change? Maybe employees now need to be trained remotely. Maybe outreach needs to be more clear.
No one has the answers for what to do in unprecedented times. Yet, having a semblance of a plan–with frequent moments to breathe, reflect, and process–can help us all move forward together.