It is no secret that we are currently in uncharted territory. These are some weird times and if you own a business, you’ve probably been trying to understand the implication this has on your business and how to react.

But the good news is that you’re not alone in this!

The coronavirus pandemic has been very unexpected and even the most prepared brands have been left scrambling to understand how to best navigate their business through these uncertain times.

That being said, this is a generational turning point that could influence how customers behave for years to come so it’s important that you do act.

This is not the time to be quiet, it’s the time to communicate. Marketers need to have a plan as to how the company will shape their response to the crisis- from what message they’ll be communicating to how they’ll be communicating and the type of voice they want to adopt.

In times of crisis like this, it could be hard for marketers to know where to start. So we’ve come up with some tips on things you should be doing, along with examples of some companies doing this right. While a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works, this will at least give you some ideas to jumpstart your marketing strategies for the coronavirus crisis, if you haven’t already!

Acknowledge and Communicate Clearly

Coronavirus is affecting everyone around the world right now. So ignoring it or pretending like everything is normal can come across as distasteful.

Instead, you need to listen, acknowledge the new normal, empathize and be clear about how things could change within your business.

Everyone’s in a state of flux and confusion right now. So it has become more important than ever that you provide clear and constant information about your business. Make sure your customers know whether you’re still operating and whether your sales channels or timings have changed.

A great example of this is Namshi, the online fashion platform. With the lockdown going on in Dubai, I wasn’t sure about whether I should be purchasing anything at this point or not. That’s when I received this notification from Namshi which made me click ‘purchase’ immediately.

This notification has got everything. Not only are they reassuring you that everything is running as normal, by checking in that everyone’s okay and reassuring customers that they are doing everything they can to keep them safe, they are also being empathetic to their customer’s concerns.

Being empathetic and showing compassion is what will keep your customers thinking of your brand even after this pandemic. Taking the time to think about how your posts will be received by those living a different reality than yours will only stand to strengthen your brand.

Essentially, during these trying times, you’re better off over-communicating than under-communicating. However, always be sure to empathize and let your customers know that you’re doing everything you can to keep things running as normally as you can for them while also taking every measure to keep them protected.

Keep Posting

With everyone stuck at home, your followers are online more than ever now. So make sure that you aren’t neglecting your social media accounts.

If your business is still operational, continue posting as you would have or post about any changes in your business. If your business is not currently operational or even if you are, you can also post content that aligns with your brand values. Videos that your customers might find interesting, articles that they need to read or you can even share interesting content from your partners. This will make sure that you remain in your follower’s minds.

Screenshot from PRNT’s Instagram account

You could also use this time to provide organic value on your social media accounts. Keep your customers engaged by providing educational content that they might find useful and help them stay busy. We’ve seen this from Kuwaiti brands like PRNT, who’s provided their adult coloring books for free in a PDF format for their followers who are stuck at home.

You could even address social distancing and provide content that your customers might need during this time at home.

At Tap, we’ve been focusing on doing that this week through our Instagram stories. We started a segment called #QuarantineTales where we highlight businesses within the Tap family under different categories that can help you make the best out of this period of self-isolation such as fitness, self-care, home-entertainment and many more. By doing this, we are hoping to direct customers to businesses that they might find useful during quarantine, while also providing them an opportunity to support local businesses during these trying times. Check it out on our Instagram stories to learn about businesses that you may not have known about before!

Adjust Marketing Mix to Where Your Customer Is Now

With everyone indoors and online, offline marketing, such as billboards, are no longer a priority. Instead focus your marketing budget on online marketing, especially social media marketing and paid ads.

Since ad networks make money through an auction system, the trend now is that paid ads are becoming a lot cheaper.

This is because it’s usually the small businesses that hike up the CPC (Cost per click), but since a lot of small businesses are not operational anymore or focused on advertising, there isn’t as much competition for paid ads resulting in cheaper ads.

So if your business is still operational, now is the time to invest in these paid ads and showcase your brand, since people are currently spending more time online than ever before. If you’re looking for tips on how to get started with digital marketing, have a look at this article where I’ve highlighted some key strategies for small businesses to follow.

We are also seeing a lot of businesses changing their product to stay updated with current times. We’ve been seeing a lot of businesses that used to only sell in-store now selling online, through websites or even their Instagram accounts.

Screenshot from Deliveroo's Instagram account

Another trend we’re seeing a lot of now (and loving!) is the DIY kits that many restaurants like Solo Tacos, Slider Station, Vigonovo and others have been promoting. This trend, started by the online food delivery company- Deliveroo, lets you buy kits for specific meals so that you can put on your chef hat and cook fresh dinner at home. This is a great example of adjusting your product to current conditions since the partial curfew imposed in Kuwait right now makes it impossible to order any food after 3 pm.

Associate Your Brand With Good

During times of crisis, people remember brands for the good that they do, especially if it’s done with a true heart instead of as a publicity stunt. People recognize authenticity.

This could be in the form of donations to families affected by this crisis, giving free products to medical professionals or continuing to pay employees even after the business stops being operational.

Screenshot from Zyda's Instagram Account

Zyda, the e-commerce platform from Kuwait, is a prime example of this. They have offered 1-month free on all their standard plans to all of their existing as well as new clients, across the GCC, in light of the current times. They have also offered 3 months free on their standard plans to help ease the transition for all co-operatives in Kuwait looking to go online. This is a particularly helpful move for co-operatives that have traditionally always been offline, considering that during these times an increasing number of people prefer to stay away from the crowds in-store and shop online.

People love feel-good stories during times of worldwide crisis so, if your business can afford it, try to help out as much as possible. This positivity will only help towards enhancing your brand, now and after this is all done.

We are currently in the phase of acknowledging and adapting to the coronavirus crisis, but businesses must need to start planning for life after the crisis. Without a doubt, this has pushed businesses to accelerate their digital transformation program but what is equally exciting to see is how quickly customers have embraced and learned to trust online purchasing for products and services.

Moving forward, it’ll be interesting to see how brands operate and adapt to these new circumstances but for now, we hope that these strategies help your business. Are there any more marketing tips that you think small businesses must adopt during this pandemic? If so, let us know by commenting below!