As cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to increase around the world, brands are faced with deciding if and how to implement their marketing plans during the pandemic. Every industry has been impacted in some way. Travel has been halted, entertainment venues have been cancelled, and non-essential retail stores have been pressured to close. In response to this outbreak, marketing strategies should be reevaluated and alternative plans considered as some efforts, like events and sponsorship, may no longer be practical or even possible in today’s environment.
As marketing plans and budgets shift gears, new approaches must be considerate of consumers’ wellbeing and financial restraints in the near-term while looking ahead for the long-term. Even though it may be more challenging during a crisis like this coronavirus, it is important for brands to promote their message – they may just need to do it in a different and more thoughtful way.
When assessing marketing strategies during the current COVID-19 outbreak, brands should:
Communicate regularly: During times of uncertainly, it is important to communicate routinely and directly with consumers. As concerns heighten, consumers want facts, a candid perspective, and reassurance amidst news that may be inaccurate or sensationalized. Any marketing outreach should be careful to not belittle the consequences associated with the outbreak and to demonstrate empathy to consumers who have been impacted.
Prioritize consumers while protecting reputation: Brands that put their consumers first can ensure their reputations will be well-protected, trusted, and respected. For example, in the travel industry, many airlines waived fees for changing flights and offered travel credit vouchers in exchange for cancelled flights. Efforts like this go a long way in retaining status and loyalty. Brands that put other motives ahead of their consumers can jeopardize their reputation and future business.
Consider post-coronavirus planning: For all brands affected by the outbreak, and particularly those directly impacted, like hospitality and entertainment, marketing is critical to attract consumers once the situation subsides. Following the aftermath of past crises, hotels responded with marketing campaigns inviting consumers to certain countries to show their support for the city and tourism. The tone and timing for these campaigns should respectful and not celebratory as the virus has caused substantial illness and loss of life worldwide.
Another challenge for brands during the coronavirus outbreak is redistributing marketing budgets. Funds set aside for conferences, sponsorship, travel, and entertainment may need to be reallocated since they are no longer necessary or beneficial. Focusing on online content marketing may be a better way for brands to stay engaged with consumers and promote products and services, especially with so many people working remotely. Content marketing can include blog posts, articles, social media, live-streaming, and paid media for advertising and publicity. Regardless of the method used, effective content marketing plans should be consistent, timely, interesting, and interactive.
Most importantly, during uncertain times, brands should not lose sight that marketing is also about sales. By increasing spending on digital lead generation channels during the coronavirus outbreak, for example, they can endorse overall brand awareness now and position themselves to generate leads and sales later. Digital events also provide brands with the opportunity to scale globally and increase engagement while maintaining concern for consumers and upholding company standards.
Feel free to contact Tolmao Group if you are interested in exploring new marketing approaches in the Chinese marketplace. Visit www.tolmaogroup.com to discover more.