Marketing in a Crisis: The Fundamentals are More Important than Ever

Marketing during a crisis of this magnitude is uncharted territory for all of us. Fortunately, we can navigate the “new normal” with some of the same excellent tools we already use. The fundamentals of marketing are more important than ever. Here are some examples of ways you can deploy your marketing expertise, based on projects our clients are working on right now:

(If you haven’t read our previous post about marketing during the pandemic, you can catch up here.)

1. Perfect Your Website.

Since so much work has migrated online, it’s vital that you have a modern, well-functioning site right now. Unless you’ve recently relaunched, it’s likely that your company’s site could use an update or even a total redesign. (This is also a great project to work on if you are experiencing or anticipating downtime in your usual workload.)

Some things to assess:

  • Is your home page accurately representing your organization’s priorities?
  • Is it providing the information your audiences need (see personas, below)—and has it adapted to any new information needs driven by the pandemic crisis?
  • How is the basic functionality of your site? In other words, does it work the way it’s supposed to? Are there broken links? Does e-commerce function well? Can users reach you when they need you?
  • Beyond the basics, is the site delivering a user experience that is optimal for your audiences?
  • Does the site visually match your overall organization’s brand?
  • What kind of user feedback have you received about the site? If there any trouble spots, you’ll want to evaluate which ones are quick fixes and which necessitate more serious consideration (and potentially long-term investment).
  • Are people within the organization satisfied with the website’s effectiveness? Are there departments within your organization who want or need a section updated?
  • If you’re a non-profit, is the development section of your site optimized? It may be appropriate to shine a larger spotlight on fundraising at this time.
  • Do you have content that appropriately addresses the pandemic crisis for your audiences front and center on your home page?

2. Work On Your Personas.

Maybe they need to be adjusted for your customers’ newly changing needs. Or maybe you’re asking “what’s a persona?” Either way, this is a good time to take a deeper look and make sure your personas are working hard for you.

A persona is a kind of composite character that represents a key segment of your audience. Creating personas is a great way to think strategically about what kind of content and messaging you need to deliver to communicate effectively. Personas are useful in many facets of marketing, including understanding user experience for a website redesign; crafting an effective new brand; and launching new product lines.

During this crisis, take some time to check in with your personas on a regular basis. You can learn a lot from them.

  • Do your personas have new, or shifting, pain points? How have their wants and needs changed?
  • Are there any new products or services that you can offer them to satisfy these changing needs/wants/pain points?
  • What about their behaviors: Are they accessing information in different ways during the crisis? Can you find them different places online or deliver information to them in different ways?

3. Start A Blog. Really.

We often hear from clients that they know that their business would benefit from a blog, but they don’t know where to begin. Blogging is a great idea right now: With everyone online all the time, it’s a terrific way to communicate important information with your audience, showcase your company’s thought leadership, and improve your SEO to drive traffic to your organization’s website.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Brainstorm initial ideas
    • What is crucial information for your customers right now? What do they need to know about your industry?
    • What’s most important to tell them about what your company is doing? For example, have you changed any products and services, or delivery systems, due to the pandemic?
    • Any good news to share? If you’re doing any charitable work related to the covid-19 crisis, don’t be shy about putting it front and center. We all benefit from hearing good news right now.
  • Be realistic about the time commitment
    • You can start by thinking about what month one would look like. How many times a week do you intend to post to the blog? Think about how often your audience will need (or want) to hear from you, and how you will balance that with your available content-producing bandwidth.
    • Develop a plan for posting content. This is a good time to look at apps that can give you a leg up.
  • Create an “editorial calendar”
    • Look at the entire year in your industry. What are typical cyclical events in your field that you might blog about? An editorial calendar is like a blueprint for a year of content ideas—a gift that keeps on giving.
  • Be mindful that even the best-laid plans are subject to change—quickly.
    • The current crisis does make it challenging to plan ahead. Content creators need to “read the room” and tread carefully. What sounds like a great idea for a post this week might seem painfully out-of-date as soon as next week. So you’ll want to keep an eye on newsworthy developments that affect your audiences.

Understanding your audience’s needs and delivering them an effective digital experience is what marketers do. Yes, it’s challenging to adapt your work to an unprecedented crisis. But with the fundamental tools of marketing, success is well within reach.