At its launch, any business venture or startup must develop a comprehensive system for crisis management. From financial risks to losing personnel and organizational crises, companies have to be prepared for worst case scenarios at all times.
Although only 30% of startups survive their first ten years and investors and managers are continuously anticipating risks, no one has ever anticipated a global health crisis of such epic proportion. The novel Coronavirus pandemic outbreak, much unexpected and underestimated, has left devastating impacts on both the private and public sector, causing not just slowness but acute disruptions to global value chains.
Although investors are trained to anticipate all types of crises, marketers are often not. The outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic has therefore brought in new challenges for marketing teams seeking to continue grabbing the attention of their audiences while also taking into consideration the state of confusion, panic and fear spread everywhere.
Marketing strategies and responses have greatly varied. Some companies have turned to cause marketing strategies, concentrating their efforts on alleviating public panic and spreading awareness on prevention methods. Others were forced to completely redesign their marketing strategy to cater for the online world. A few minority resumed their marketing strategy as if the pandemic never took place.
Whichever route businesses have taken, the need to create ever-lasting positive perceptions about your brand continues to be a priority. The question is as such, how can companies achieve their marketing goals without crossing the line or taking advantage of the Coronavirus pandemic situation?
Below, we will be sharing some communication mistakes your organization should avoid in times of crisis:
1. Lying to achieve your short-term goals at any cost:
At this shaky stage, companies are doing their best to ensure that they still get paid for their services or products and to make up for revenue deficits.
Some companies take the smart road by promoting new products, while others make unwise choices by seeking short-term solutions to their revenue deficits.
For example, to protect their customer bookings, Norwegian Cruise Line, a Bermuda-based luxury cruise line, lied to its customers claiming that the novel Coronavirus does not exist in tropical conditions. A strategy such as this one, implemented for short-term profit increments, could end up negatively affecting your revenues for life.
Managing a crisis goes hand in hand with long-term thinking. Rather than worrying about how much money you will make during the current mandatory lockdown and therefore lying to your customers, opt for long-term strategies instead. Focus on how you want your customers to perceive your brand identity for the rest of their lives.
If you employ data measurement tools like Google Analytics, you can predict when the demand for your products is about to increase. No need to lie to your customers to re-gain your share in the market.
2. Advertising out-of-stock commodities:
Criteo, an advertising platform, reports that retailers selling health products, electronics and other household needs are seeing a surge in the demand for their products, and because the demand for such products is high, ecommerce is gaining momentum -some form of panic-shopping is also spreading-.
As a result, it is very likely that ecommerce stores will run out of stock inventory but nevertheless continue to advertise about it, to take advantage of the high demand and bring more traffic to their platforms. Businesses should check the availability and volume of inventory in real-time, especially when they have on-going product awareness campaigns in the making. Advertising out-of-stock commodities is a waste of time and money. It could also affect sales because consumers will resent you for pushing products that are not readily available to just trigger their interest and peak their curiosity.
Drawing the line between opportunism and opportunity in this case is vital for your company’s success.
3. Stuffing keywords for higher visibility:
Generally speaking, advertisers prefer to avoid upsetting or alarming topics or covering bad news altogether. In fact, The Wall Street Journal reports that ‘Coronavirus’ is currently the least used keyword in the world. This is because many brands are blocking ‘Coronavirus’ as a key search term because they are afraid that their business is mistaken for bad news about the pandemic.
Businesses are following this direction because taking advantage of a common keyword to rank high on social engines or to be more visible online is not just unethical, but it makes your business look desperate for revenue.
As such, when choosing which channel to distribute your content on or to make your ads appear against, don’t feel intimidated by the demand for Coronavirus-related news. People are indeed searching for news but they are also -and even more so- hunting for entertainments and sports-associated platforms to take their minds off of the situation.
As mentioned earlier, thinking short-term could jeopardize your ability to sell in the future—once life resumes its normal course.
4. Depicting a world that’s totally different than your consumers’:
Before the Coronavirus pandemic, it was common for brands like Coca Cola to launch ads with large crowd gatherings. Today, amidst the outbreak of a pandemic that can only be fought through with social distancing, it is almost unrealistic to feature this on television or online.
If you depict a different world from the one in which your customers live, less people will engage with your ad because they do not find it relatable. Such adverts feel strange because they are not in touch with the reality of the majority of global consumers.
For example, it doesn’t make sense that your apparel company publishes tutorials on how to style an outfit for a date, since this totally ignores the fact that your customers are practicing self-isolation. Instead, you can double-down your marketing efforts to help customers dress up for their next Zoom meeting (virtual conference call).
Offer solutions through your product or services to real-world challenges and acknowledge the current reality with your offering. This will earn the attention of your customers and also their respect.
The bottom line…
Don’t be tempted to increase your revenues in the short-term today, forgetting about your survival tomorrow. Any attempt to ignore people’s realities and the challenges they are currently facing will only be met with resentment and indifference. Make sure your tone and ad copy recognize the Coronavirus pandemic first as a medical emergency before considering its economic ramifications.