Now it is more important than ever to remember your brand purpose. With thousands of businesses across Australia shutting their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers, restaurants, bars, cinemas, and schools—resorts, gyms, hair salons are redefining their brand purpose. If a business is deemed non-essential, there’s a good chance it’s closed right now or operating in a limited space (for example, restaurants doing takeout only).

While it’s hard to find any silver lining during this crisis, it is a time for small businesses to clarify their brand purpose. It’s a time to start helping rather than aiming for sales goals. We’re not suggesting you abandon your marketing efforts, either—we’re asking you to redirect them.

On the other side of the Coronavirus, your customers will remember how you responded. Did you flood their inboxes with pushy emails, or did you offer free trials and subscriptions for the time being? Did you express negative views, or did you innovate to be there for your community? You have to manage your business kindly when people are scared. You have to be purposeful, accommodating, useful.

Here, we explain what to do (and what not to do) during this crisis, as well as how to reinforce your brand purpose as an honest one.

First, Keep Promoting

Don’t abandon your brand purpose! Instead, reinforce its purpose by reminding the community you’re there for them. You can continue marketing, even during a weak economy, as long as you do so tastefully.

There are several advantages to continuing your marketing campaign, even amid a global pandemic:

  • Other industry competitors are likely cutting back on their ad spending, minimizing your competition. Well known Marketing Guru, Mark Ritson, talks about ESOV – excess share of voice, an important concept in times of recession.
  • Customers will see your business as one of stability—something that’s comforting during challenging times
  • The price of advertising usually drops
  • If you stop advertising now, you could lose current and potential future customers

We’re definitely advising you not to sell, sell, sell!

We all hate being sold to and even more so in a crisis. I am sure that many of you have received emails, social media requests and the like, then as soon as you accept, BANG! The next thing they are hitting you up with promises of increased sales or some special pricing.

Stop selling to people and start communicating and remember your brand purpose. If you are like me, I am not interested in maintaining contact with anyone who hasn’t taken the time to understand my business, get to know me and really understand how they can add value.

The other day I was contacted by someone trying to sell me content services. Clearly her organisation didn’t even check my website or LinkedIn profile to see that content marketing is one of the core services we offer. Often, ill-informed people try selling me virtual services and offshore deployment options. Their lack of research simply wastes their time and mine, as my services are already very agile, and we have the ability to scale up or down at any time.

Advertising means many things besides selling unnecessary products. It can take the form of releasing safety information that’s relative to your industry. It can also be having a social media presence that advertises other local businesses, non-profits, or healthcare workers, showing a sense of support and community.

Of course, if your business does revolve around selling a product, you can still do so—but there are some considerations.

Perhaps you offer free and/or discounted rates, mentioning that standard pricing will return after safety measures have lifted. You can also highlight the value of your brand in an informative way.

As long as you understand that people can and will notice if you’re taking advantage—because that’s something that will taint your image long after the economy has recovered.

Next, Start Helping

It’s a now-common complaint: people are getting emails from businesses they haven’t heard from in years, offering them products they simply don’t need right now. Maybe it’s an email from the place they got an eye exam three years ago, or even a retailer they frequently use who’s now bombarding them.

These “takers” stand out like a sore thumb. Their transparent efforts to make a name for themselves during this crisis will likely cost them loyal customers in the long run. On the other hand, businesses that are “givers,” that make an effort to show up for their communities, will be remembered long after this pandemic is over.

Let’s offer some examples.

Rather than ending your marketing campaign, readjust. Now is not the time to promote flashy, new, expensive products. Furthermore, it’s not time to price-gouge!

Instead, change your message and your price to match the current economic climate. Many companies are offering free trials or subscriptions, offering extended payment deadlines, or even adding supplies (like toilet paper) in with their orders.

You can also use this time to market safe practices. If people see you as being cautious, careful, and calculated, you’ll become more trustworthy.

For example, if you own a brick-and-mortar business that’s still running, you can add tape lines on the ground that reinforce the safe distance rule. Or, you can offer a no-contact takeout service where people stay in their cars, their food gets dropped on a designated table outside, and they receive a text message to get their order when it’s ready. You can also reinforce no loitering.

If you abide by rules and guidelines outlined by the Australian and or State Government’s Department of Health, your clientele will, too.

Finally, It’s Time to Innovate

It’s your job to provide value, to pivot your marketing campaigns as needed, and to communicate wisely in this ever-changing climate. Now is not the time to concern yourself with closing a transaction—people will notice, and they will talk (or mention it on social media, where everyone is spending more time nowadays).

This means you’ll have to be innovative. And the great news is, you can be transparent about it, too. Inform your customers that this is how you’re doing something one day—but it may change next week concerning new guidelines or safety concerns. Remind them to hang in there and ride out the storm with you.

People will respect your brand if you can be flexible and people focused.

For example, if you own a gym or fitness studio, you can begin offering virtual classes. Perhaps they’re free for now, but you may start charging minimal fees next month if this distancing continues to be mandatory. As long as you’re clear on your practices, people will respect any changes that come their way.

If you’re a restaurant, perhaps you can market take away meals and focus on pantry items or meal kits. You can even ask your clientele what they need from you and try to cater to that, depending on your resources. They’ll never forget the business that sold them quarts of soup when their kitchen was sparse.

Redefine Your Brand Purpose

Don’t shut down your marketing campaign. Remember your brand purpose.

Instead, advertise your business as transparent, honest, safe, and supportive. Be an anchor in the storm—show that your brand purpose is community- and people-focused—not money-hungry or insensitive.

Rest assured, your present and future customers will remember the moves you make during this time, so ensure your business abides by current safety laws and provides value.

Contact us at the Content Box for an affordable, strategy-led marketing consultation. We’re fully aware of the trying times, and we want to help you define yourself as purposeful. Let us help you through the current climate in a tasteful, meaningful way.