Here in the states COVID-19 is in it’s 4th week and it’s all but shut down society and the economy as a whole. But as business owners, what should you be doing? Or better yet, what should you NOT be doing?
Starting in early March, COVID-19 has torn through the States within about 3-4 weeks. All events and conferences have been cancelled into summertime, Schools in the traditional sense are pretty much done for the year and almost half of the US Population has been recommended to “Work from Home”. The new normal at least for the next month or two (or longer?) has pretty much set in. What do we do as small business owners? Equally, what do we not do?
April Fools? Hope Not
Tomorrow is April Fools day and while this article is probably a bit too late to warn any businesses of the huge mistake it would be to do some “cutesy” April Fools joke. It’s one thing for us to joke around with our family, friends or neighbors, but it’s another for a brand to try to jump into the fun. Even Google “cancelled” April Fools this year. it’s just not cool. Please don’t. If you already did, apologize to your users.
Emailing Your List? Don’t State the Obvious (Unless Your the CDC)
Everyone was blasted with emails from brands all around the world with “COVID” this and “COVID that”. Even though COVID-19 kind of old news by now, I wrote this to a few colleagues and clients when it was just starting. “Don’t state the obvious” Do not share tips on how to wash your hands? Or what crowds to avoid. I’ve received more emails from big brands on how to wash hands, who to avoid and what not. Thanks Harbor Freight Tools and Delta, but I’ve got the news, and social media, and all of my Apps keeping me up to date.
Side Note: I still chuckle how many brands and organizations feel the need to remind me about Daylight Savings time changes. Maybe they’re still using analog clocks.
So, Unless the outbreak is affecting your actual operations in regards to staying open, lead times, or anything that would affect your customer’s experience with you, then I recommend leaving it out.
Pause Your Marketing, Don’t Be Tone Deaf
I read the below article about the Democratic debate between Bernie & Joe. it happened the 2nd Sunday night as the outbreak was ramping up. Did you even know it happened? Either did I. The article resonated with how I feel about companies, brands and organizations attempting to go along with “business (and life) as usual” especially celebratory messaging.
The first 3 sentences in her article sum it up for me
“Why was the Bernie v Biden debate so absurd? It might have to do with the coronavirus”
1. The cloud of coronavirus
“It felt downright strange when the candidates were talking about anything other than coronavirus. A week ago, when life still felt fairly normal, I probably wouldn’t have felt this way. But now, let’s be honest, it’s pretty much all we think about and talk about and read about. And talking about anything else — even important, era-defining issues like climate change — just felt off.” I can’t agree more. Anything else just seems a bit off. aka “Tone Deaf”
Another organization I’m close with just with launched a big announcement about a promotion of a team member. Video, email blast, social media, etc. It just didn’t seem right.
I was in Costco earlier and it was jam packed – like newsworthy-crowded. I saw 2 poor sales reps for SunRun solar standing at their booth. Not a single person talking to them. Everyone was wizzing by heading towards the frozen foods and toilet paper. Also, the clothing section was DEAD Empty. Literally, not a single person in there. I bought a few new polos.
That’s exactly how people feel about your marketing right now.
- Pause celebratory announcements
- Consider pausing sales & promotions
- Hold off on unvaluable information
And this might only be for a few days or a week or two. Things are just too fresh and raw right now. Just consider what you’re putting out during the near future.
Ramp Things Back Up, But Speak to the Situation
Now that we’re setting life and business into a new normal after a month of turmoil, it’s good to start back your marketing. The last thing you want to do is to hide away for a few months. This very newsletter / article is proof. But don’t ignore what’s going on. Don’t ignore that many people (the same people who run the businesses you’re trying to market too) are feeling uneasy, maybe scared. Speak to them and their situation. Kind of like the “avoiding celebratory” messages note above, don’t go into an email campaign acting like the economy is awesome and everyone is doing great! Those who “speak” to their users’ situations connect best.
What Gives for the Near Future?
So what should you do as this unfolds? There are lots of “lists” going around. My wife is a teacher and she’s now on a 3 week break. She’s already made a list of things to do around the house such as clean the garage, organize the kids’ clothes and the like. You can do the same for your business:
- Update your website – either a few pages or the entire thing
- Start blogging, writing content, expanding your presence*
- Evaluate your internal processes and procedures
- Clean up some of your marketing (flyers, brochures, etc.)
- Avoid filing a tax extension for the first time 😉
*Now is a great time to set the foundation for things to come. The economy (and business) WILL be back, and possibly sooner than expected. Everyone will be searching for this, exploring for that. By getting all of your ducks in a row now with fresh content, a new design, or expanded social media presence, you’ll be ready to be found, trusted and contacted.
We’ve been in business for over 15 years and we’ve seen a few ups and downs in the economy and society. Those business who double down on their marketing are usually the ones who come out ahead when everything is back to normal.