It’s no secret that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the business world in various ways. Since the beginning of the public health crisis, many small businesses have had to significantly alter their regular operations to adjust with the new lockdowns and social distancing guidelines. These significant changes also impacted the products and services that these businesses previously offered to meet with their customers’ expectations. Still, it’s important for businesses to remain firm with their brand’s mission and values, regardless of any changes they make to their operations.
Throughout this pandemic, your target customers’ needs are constantly evolving, and they will find brands that will meet them all the way. This is a daunting task for numerous small businesses, who face the challenge of adapting their brands to the “new normal.” According to a report from Sprout Social, “41% of marketers say they lack the bandwidth they need to make the greatest business impact with their strategies.”
During this unstable time, adapting your brand strategies while emphasizing your brand’s core mission is key to long-term success. Follow these 10 effective tips to help sustain your brand throughout the current pandemic and beyond:
- Revisit your mission. During these difficult months, it’s very tempting to lose focus of your brand as a whole and stray away from its original core values. You may try to focus your attention solely on generating as much revenue as possible. However, you may risk alienating your current consumer base that knows your brand’s mission inside and out. To avoid this risk, recenter your focus on your brand’s mission. Brainstorm the numerous ways you can service your customers without sacrificing your brand’s values.
- Emphasize the value of your brand’s product or service. The pandemic has drastically changed consumer behavior. More customers are mindful of the products or services they’re purchasing, according to Accenture. This may mean the value of your brand’s product or service may have changed, depending on your customer’s individual needs. Therefore, it’s highly imperative to your business model that you emphasize your brand’s value in the lives of your customers. For instance, you may decide to shift the focus on one product or service to a more relevant one. You may also create a series of content pieces that emphasize or educate how your product or service can help your audience in this current time. This can allow you the opportunity to connect with your audience and build stronger relationships with them.
- Meet current consumer needs. Apart from promoting your brand’s offerings, you also need to ensure that your products and services are actually meeting your consumer’s expectations and needs. You can do this by providing helpful tools, relevant promotions, and informative content that fuels brand awareness and consumer loyalty. Your focus should be on making your customer’s shopping experience a pleasant one, whether it’s through offering online services, curbside or no-contact pickup, or a live Q&A chat.
- Enhance your digital marketing efforts. Many people are online right now, actively searching for the products and services they want. It’s important that you are online as well! Place extra emphasis on your digital marketing efforts including search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, email marketing, and social media. Make sure your brand’s website is updated regularly and that your content establishes you as an expert in your respective industry. This can be achieved through blogs, videos, social media and other digital marketing content that can boost your online visibility.
- Switch up your email marketing efforts. When it comes to email marketing, you need to adapt your campaigns to the unique situations that your customers face today. Before sending an email newsletter or any type of email content to your customers, be sure to alter the tone and content that matches your customer’s challenges. Your email content should reflect your brand closely while adding value to your audience during these tumultuous times.
- Focus on social media marketing. Your audience is likely on social media so it’s a good idea to join in on the conversation. Center your attention on your social media channels, particularly your customer engagement. What social media channels do your customers engage with the most? What posts attract their attention? What social media ads provide value to them? You can use social media tracking tools within certain social media platforms to gauge data from your audience’s interactions and conversations. As with email and content marketing, your main goal is to provide value to your audience, not promote sales.
- Communicate important and relevant information. Communication is crucial to a brand, and this has been true throughout this pandemic. Always facilitate a clear line of communication between your brand and its audience. You must strive for transparency to avoid creating an environment of distrust in your audience. We also recommend keeping your audience updated regularly with relevant information about how your brand is impacted by the pandemic. You may create a post about your new hours of operations or list pickup options.
- Use an empathetic tone. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected a number of people across the nation and the world. Many are dealing with financial and emotional hardships that directly impacts their shopping behavior. As such, your brand should express a compassionate and empathetic tone that reassures them. Be genuine; show that you care about what they’re going through. Use words and messages to help your customers heal during these trying times.
- Incorporate your audience in the conversation. Your brand shows leadership and expertise when you reevaluate priorities, shift hours of operations, and encourage your audience to be a part of the conversation. Invite your target audience to share their experiences and insights on the direction of your business. This allows them to express what exactly they want and need from your business. By incorporating your audience, you also demonstrate to your customers that they’re being heard, which fuels brand loyalty and trust.
- Give back to the community. Whether you’re collaborating with other businesses, donating products, or volunteering at a center, remember to give back to your community as much as you can. Helping your community helps your brand increase brand awareness and community support. It also encourages your team members to build a positive company culture by taking part in social responsibility.
While it’s important to mention the current pandemic in your marketing efforts, you shouldn’t discuss the situation more than needed. Avoid giving your audience an influx of information—instead provide them with informative or engaging messages that work to improve their overall experience with your brand. As Skye Schooley from business.com writes, “the economy and marketplace are in a state of constant change, forcing your consumers into a wide variety of purchasing phases. How you pivot your marketing efforts to match those needs can make or break your business.” Therefore, you want to avoid being pushy, especially when promoting your products and services. Remember that the current times are difficult for many people so be sure that every chance of communication you have with your customers has purpose and value.