As businesses around the world are being forced to close due to COVID-19, lay-off staff, or invest in tech to survive, it makes sense to bring together some of the best ideas we have and become more collaborative to help one another stay afloat during this time of need. What works in one industry may help another, ad we all need to lean on one another, as business owners, to ensure our survival.
The Path to Purchase and the Buyer Journey are evolving; things change by the hour and as such our digital marketing suggestions are evolving too. Customer communication should focus on community-building efforts and addressing consumers’ changing needs and concerns. We’ve created a Facebook group where the Carmella Crew will encourage collaboration, problem solving, employee sharing between businesses, and focus all efforts to help local businesses survive.
The World Health Organization has declared the Corona Virus, or COVID-19, a global pandemic. It’s an uncertain time with lots of unknowns and while we don’t have all the answers, we want to share what we do know and offer some guidance for our customers and other small businesses that may be experiencing shifts in their business.
The intentions here are not to re-state the WHO’s facts, or the province by province restrictions and closures — the CBC and the New York Times do a great job of that. Instead, I intend to help the local small businesses survive and possibly re-tool if necessary. Working together during this time is of the utmost importance.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has accelerated trends that were already developing fast in China, including investments in e-commerce, gamification, and live streaming. According to a consulting firm, L’Oréal pulled offline advertising in February and re-invested it online. After Shanghai-based cosmetics brand Forest Cabin temporarily shut around half of it’s 337 stores in China, it proceeded to use live streaming to engage with consumers. If you haven’t upgraded your tech in a long time or are still operating traditionally, think about this; Wuhan province was forced to close businesses for a month (so far), if (and when) that happens to us, what measures do we need in place and how will our businesses survive?
Schooling throughout the Bow Valley has been cancelled, and possibly will be until September, when the next school year begins. Teachers are scrambling to figure out how to take the curriculum online, and if you’re trying to buy a laptop you’re probably going to have to wait a while. Some tech companies are relaxing their terms of service or making tools available for free. Zoom, Webex, Loom, Salesforce, Google, Microsoft and several others are offering varied versions of ‘free tools’. While the average person might see some of this as generous and about helping the community, it is also about new user acquisition.
At Carmella, we have made the move to change some processes we are doing with and for our clients right now. For example, Carmella will be going virtual and our office will not be accepting in-person meetings. Additionally, the Carmella Crew will work virtually (from home) in the coming days and weeks, as we are already set up to do so. Carmella, in collaboration with CIPR Communications, was set to host the annual Rocky Mountain Summit in Banff, Alberta this week, but instead we have moved to take the conference online and host a digital conference instead.
If you can move your sales, meetings, and other processes online, this is the time to do so.
It is your responsibility to communicate realistic risk to your community so clients and customers can decide whether or not to venture into your establishment. You may believe the media is overreacting, or you may believe that this will be a pandemic of epic proportions in a matter of time, but ultimately people just want to know the facts and how they can best protect themselves. Keep your messaging tight, on-point, and factual and offer a calm, cool, and collected response to their worry.
Adjust your strategy.
There has been a lot that has happened as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19. As people are being encouraged to wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs, there has been a shortage of hand sanitizer, bleach, cleaning wipes, and other similar disinfectant products. Work culture will be temporarily and forever changed as companies start to deploy mandatory work from home policies. We will see a huge shift in travel and tourism, as it will be affected as our government temporarily bans travel and closes boarders to certain places where cases of the virus are high.
Cafe Marketing During COVID-19.
When all your business is in person, what can you do as a cafe to get cash flow during the Coronavirus pandemic?
For starters you can set up a gift certificate with a promotional ad, and use it to raise money to help people in your community who cannot afford to stock up on supplies or need additional help during this difficult time. A great idea for an offer can be something like $40 for a $50 gift certificate and a portion of all gift certificate sales will go to charity. The best tip I can give you is to launch this TODAY. To see Opentable restaurant performance data, click here.
Travel and Tourism Industry.
If you are in the travel and tourism industry, things are changing by the day. Canada likely will close its borders in the coming days and Canadians are advised to not travel outside the country, with restrictions imposed on international flights and cruises. The U.S. currently has banned travel to high-risk countries, and other nations have instituted similar bans on non-essential travel.
There will be an impact on the experience industry, particularly around large scale events with a global audience, and brands need to think proactively about how to approach branded experiences.
Marketing for travel and tourism during COVID-19.
There is an increased interest to do so in the future, especially while flight costs are low. Knowing this, focus your strategy on the long term. Advertise trips or activities in low-risk areas (like the outdoors), and provide additional content about what trips and activities are still safe.
Outside and adventure tourism companies have a big opportunity in front of them.
Event Marketing during COVID-19.
Many event organizers are wondering how their communication strategies should evolve at a time when the appetite for travel and live events has decreased due to COVID-19. Although we’re all still learning as we go, here are a few recommendations that could help guide your approach to public relations and marketing.
Update your audience often. Things are changing by the hour, so rather than just making an announcement on Facebook (when not all of your audience is on Facebook) use multiple channels; send emails, post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google.
Our event, the Rocky Mountain Social has gone virtual. Our attendees paid for an experience in Banff, Alberta and we are doing our best to provide the most we can for them. We have gift cards planned as surprises for them during the event and extra bonuses in the form of videos and e-books. We are focusing on emphasizing content surrounding educational offerings, like keynote speakers and presentations because it doesn’t give people a reason to associate that with the virus. We will create a case study in the coming months on this event. If you would like a virtual pass, please contact Carmella directly.
Update your audience on all platforms, ensure they see the same messaging on social media, website, google, and newsletters. Make sure your novel Coronavirus position is on the homepage of your website, with a link to more information. Also, make sure everyone within your organization is aligned around consistent messaging.
It might also be best to avoid images of large crowds, international audiences, handshaking, and hugging. Usually content like that is a draw, but right now it could encourage social media posts and fear around the virus spreading at an event. Overall, keep an upbeat outlook on the situation, and keep a calm demeanour.
Medical communications for COVID-19.
We just saw the first doctor move all appointments online. This is my aunt’s clinic so I will go ahead and post this with her name still intact.
“All visits will be converted to phone visits unless deemed required-in-person by either Drs. Sabine or Wellwood: all patients will be contacted regarding their appointments (All nurse and SW appointments will also be canceled unless deemed urgent).
The office door will remain locked. All walk-in patients without an appointment will be turned away.
Patients with appointments are asked to remain in their cars until their exact appointment time.
To the right of our door will be information sheets regarding the new office procedure about handwashing requirements and office protocols (Proper handwashing).
If you require a prescription renewal, please consider asking your pharmacist for an extension rather than booking an office appointment.
Please, ALL PATIENTS, stay tuned to our Facebook page for updates. MyHealth will be terminated in less than 2 weeks and, as such, further communication made difficult. Facebook is the easiest way for us to disseminate critical information.
NEW: Can’t get through on our phone? You can now request a callback.
Drs Sabine & Wellwood will be strictly enforcing a no-sick-note policy. If you are requesting a travel note or sick note, we will be unable to accommodate these requests and ask that you provide your employer with one of the following letters. Letter One or Letter Two.
All patients are advised to postpone any non-urgent labwork: if you’ve previously been given a requisition for bloodwork that is non-urgent, we ask that you delay it’s completion until the Covid-19 pandemic is no longer deemed a public health emergency.”
Use the power of social media influence
Social media will become more powerful in the days to come. As people are confined to their homes, many will turn to the digital space to collect information and keep themselves busy. Now is the time to get started on creating groups and places for people to congregate and ask questions.
Social media is another greta way to connect and host conferences. You can use Facebook or Instagram live feature to connect with your audience in real-time. Another great tool is Youtube, which may be of benefit for larger corporations.
Google My Business
If you are making changes to your business, communicate these changes online as soon as possible. “If your business is affected, Google recommends updating your business hours and description in your Google My Business profile. Aside from letting people know when they can stop by your business, you can also update your description to give more information regarding any additional precautions you are taking or if there are changes in services. These changes will update your business information on Google Search and Maps.”
How are Google and Facebook responding to COVID-19?
In addition to making it easier for people to learn more about symptoms, vaccine information, and travel advisories, Google is removing any content on YouTube that claims to prevent the Coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment and is also blocking all ads capitalizing on the Coronavirus. Similarly, Facebook is blocking anyone running ads to exploit the situation.
Although these platform policies will not likely impact your account, the pandemic and the resulting market changes will. Here are a few recommended strategies to prepare and adjust your accounts accordingly.
Review your accounts
It’s important to stay on top of how changing markets might affect your paid search and paid social accounts, from changing click and impression volumes to changing costs.
Analyze your past performance data, current registration trends, and the latest news. Do you need to shift from international marketing to marketing that’s more localized and regional? Are there segments of your audiences under travel restrictions? Monitor the situation on a daily (or at least semi-weekly) basis and adjust your tactical plan and marketing spend accordingly.
Marketing during COVID-19 Checklist:
- Businesses should look to build trust whenever possible
- Refund policies should be stated upfront
- Clear communication
- Go digital
- Move sales online
- Be social while practising social distancing (social media)
- Move events online
- Discounted gift certificates to be used online or in the future
What other ideas do you see happening in your business community?
A rising tide floats all boats. Join our Facebook group to be part of the discussion or ask a question.
– Stephanie O’Brien.